It was wonderful to be speaking to Mr Bass last year, the one and only John Jowitt, and to be told that he was forming a new band with his ex-IQ and ex-Frost* bandmate Andy Edwards, bringing together once again a powering rhythm section. While they provide the platform, they are joined by Rob Groucott, (son of the late ELO bassist Kelly) on vocals and keyboards along with Mirron Webb (Hey Jester) on guitar and vocals. Any band that comprises people of the pedigree of John and Andy will always be tagged with the moniker “Supergroup”, while one can only imagine the pressure on Rob to deliver, given that his father was such a high-profile presence in the music scene, playing on multiple million-selling albums.
Anyone who has followed John’s career like I have will be aware he has played in multiple bands (often at the same time) in different genres, not all of which have been progressive. I first came across him when he was in the mighty Ark, a band who to this day I still feel have not had the recognition for all the great music they produced, while he of course came to major recognition when he joined IQ for their comeback album, ‘Ever’. In Rain he has re-established the relationship with Andy that only bassists and drummers who have worked together for years really understand, and it is as if they have never been parted. Here they are providing a platform which is not as complex as the other bands they have worked in, but ensure there are touches here and there, and times when they simply smile at each other and go off on some runs, just to show they can.
The main focus is very much at the front of the band with Rob and Mirron often singing in dual lead harmony (even both hitting falsetto on “Walkaway”), and in many ways this album is all about the vocals. This is commercial crossover where the guitars can come in blasting neo prog at all and sundry, or be delicate and restrained, and the same goes for the keyboards which may provide a gentle curtain of sound for the others to layer against, often behind the bass, or they too can be a driving force. It is incredibly polished, and in some ways makes me think of American prog bands as opposed to British, yet with an edge which ensures the teeth do not hurt from too much sugar. That this was recorded during lockdown is nothing short of remarkable, as there is no disconnect whatsoever and it sounds as if the guys were in the studio honing and honing to the very end.
This is an incredibly impressive debut, moving and shifting, yet always inviting the listener in, with an easy style which makes it such a joy to listen to from beginning to end. If they keep going like this, then people will only be talking about John and Andy as being from Rain and given their history that will be some achievement indeed. One for progheads to seek out if they enjoy crossover.