Keeping up with my pledge to be eclectic this week; The Winstons, an Italian trio who have been making waves on the Contemporary Psych/Prog-Rock scene these past several months. Initially from other bands of note, The Winstons have taken the form of Drums, Bass/guitar and Organ in much the same general vibe as Robert Wyatt/Kevin Ayers-era Soft Machine. But they site several examples from the period as kicking-off points, including the Dutch prog band Supersister. And they’ve been getting considerable buzz over that. There have been a few who have pronounced them a sort of Cover band, or too-much-on-the-money to be considered original, but I think the intention here is not to be an exact replica of those bands, but to take what they were all about and use that as a prototype for a more contemporary take on things.
But truths to tell – the majority of people listening to The Winstons for the first time would never make those associations because those earlier bands were not hugely popular at the time – they were influential, but as for album sales; not great. And with the exception of certain underground FM stations, getting airplay for Supersister or Soft Machine was practically impossible, as they were considered just too weird for most tastes even though Jimi Hendrix was a huge supporter of Soft Machine, and even had them open for his 1967 U.S. tour.
So, it is entirely possible to have a listen to this band and not make any previous associations and judge them for what they are – a competent, power-trio who have an interesting point of view on things and would certainly be a good addition to the library, at least in line for repeated playings.
The good news is – they are heading over to the U.S. this month, in what I think (though I’m not sure) if their first stateside set of gigs. So far, only New York is listed as a destination. They are playing in Berlin, even as we speak. And like I said, they are creating a stir in critical circles which bodes well for them being with us for a good long time.
As anyone who has been following the International side of Music, Italy is certainly no stranger to innovative bands – they pretty much wrote the book on Prog in the 1970s and have continued with a rich tradition of doing engaging and challenging music. That a band like The Winstons comes from Rome, is no surprise.
I would certainly check them out in the coming months. They have a website and two albums so far (their debut studio album and a live album that came out early last year). In the meantime, crank it up and enjoy.