By 1970, there were certain things you could count on with an Alexis Korner album. Those included an almost manic stylistic diversity that ran from near-trad jazz and blues to near-blues-rock; a top-notch cast of supporting musicians; and seriously inconsistent quality, in large part because of Korner's hoarse lead vocals. Both Sides has all of these, and remains one of his more obscure efforts, in part because it was issued only in Germany and Holland. Certainly Korner enlisted some top talent, including Free's Andy Fraser on bass; Paul Rodgers (also of Free) on backing vocals; Lol Coxhill on tenor and soprano sax; John Marshall on drums; and Ray Warleigh on sax. Give Korner credit, too, for trying to move with the times, including some nods to soul and heavy rock music along with the blues and jazz that were at his musical core, and making substantial use of a horn section within a loosely blues-oriented format. Still, it must be acknowledged that the material was both erratic and wildly eclectic in nature, including a cover of Curtis Mayfield's "Mighty-Mighty Spade and Whitey"; a generic soul-rock instrumental (the Korner-penned "Funky"); a Free cover "Wild Injun Woman" that was much better suited to Free themselves; and yet another cover, of the Staple Singers' "I See It," that couldn't help but pale next to the original. Adding to the unevenness are a couple of live cuts, one of them a jazzy eight-minute instrumental duet between Warleigh and bassist Colin Hodgkinson, the other a ragged, overlong twelve-minute performance of the traditional blues "Rosie." Korner came off best on the gentle folk-blues of his self-penned "To Whom It May Concern" and an interpretation of William Bell's "You Don't Miss Your Water (Til Your Well Runs Dry)" that, while again no match for other versions, is heartfelt and doesn't over-reach itself. The 2006 CD reissue of the album added historical liner notes by Korner biographer Harry Shapiro and nine bonus tracks from 1969 studio and BBC sessions. AMG.
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