The Pipe brothers are siblings born out of time and the songs they create have been unashamedly rooted in the 60’s and 70’s. Add to that the very appropriately named ProgBlues Music label which their latest album Recipe For Change is released on and those two facts more or less tell the story of The Mentulls sound… OR DO THEY? Heavily influenced by the blues rock of bands like Free, Bad Company etc. on their first two albums Time Flies and Reflections (plus mini album The Long Road To Home) mixing those moods with a Pink Floyd/Wishbone Ash progressive edge to varying degrees. One thing which is blatantly apparent is that Recipe For Change is a very different beast and requires a complete reset when comparing it to their previous works.
Full album number three has been in the making for four years and was finally completed during the enforced restriction of lockdown. For the project brothers Jamie Pipe (Keyboards) and British Blues nominee 2012 Andrew Pipe (Guitar) are joined by highly acclaimed vocalist and multi-instrumentalist David Neil Crabtree whose latest solo single ‘Gasoline’ was released in June 2021. Recipe For change is a concept album of sorts centring on a person who is tired of the 9 to 5 and yearns to up sticks, escape the city, head to the great outdoors and find a simpler way of life.
As soon as the album gets underway it is obvious that this is very different musically to anything that has come before for The Mentulls. Out with the blues rock with a hint of prog and although the prog influences remain it is now wrapped in a honeycomb of melodic adult rock. Think FM meets Calling All Stations era Genesis, and you’ll get the rough idea. Across its nine tracks you’ll find things bouncing along to a recipe of guitar and synth drenched power interlaced with intricate quieter patches which show off this newfound direction. Opener and lead single ‘Easy To Walk Away’ sets out the stall nicely with its 80/90’s punch. The album continues with a mix of polished keyboard driven soft rock on title track ‘Recipe For Change’ and closes out on a similar tone with ‘Worlds Made Of Sound’. Throughout the album the vocals are enhanced with harmonised backing vocals supplied by blues shredder and RavenEye band leader Oli Brown and although subtle the album benefits greatly from his involvement. These vocal interactions really stand front and centre in the softer moments such as the piano led ‘Open My Eyes’, ‘Learning Through Living’ and ‘Saviour’ with its verses contrasting with its big choruses. The more prog leanings get an outing within the Mike Rutherford riffs and high-end progressive keyboard sounds of latest single ‘Summit Fever’ and the instrumental (although it would also be a great vocal track if lyrics were added) ‘Find A Way To This Journey’s End’ both showing off the depth of feel in the current configuration of the band and shines a spotlight on Andrew Pipe’s technical guitar prowess. Within the lines of ‘Summit Fever’ I feel we get a hint at the story behind the change of direction with the “Climbing the ladders what’s important to me” and “I know the aim and it’s get to the top” lines repeating within its dual themed lyrics. The one hint of what has come before within The Mentulls previous musical life lies in the Hammond organ running through ‘Smoke And Mirrors’ but this is used in a very different context. If Recipe For Change presents a band taking their future in a new direction… tick! If they were chasing a polished, pristine, melodic rock sound… tick! If they want their old fan base to come along for the ride… question mark! I certainly hope so but only time will tell.
It will be very interesting to see how the band blend this new material with their existing catalogue in the live setting but with shows lined up in the run up to release their audience are about to find out. Available from the band’s website in either signed or unsigned formats on CD and vinyl this marks a new beginning for these unquestionably talented siblings… and their extended band of brothers. It seems The Mentulls are about to take their next steps into a post-pandemic world with their own “new normal”.
- Reviewed By Peter Brockwell.
- Recipe For Change is released via ProgBlues (available here) on 22nd October 2021
- Official Website
- YouTube Channel
1. Easy To Walk Away
2. Recipe For Change
3. Opened My Eyes
4. Learning Through Living
5. Summit Fever
7. Find A Way To This Journey’s End
8. Smoke & Mirrors
9. Worlds Made Of Sound