It has always been the case that if you really want to understand a band, you need to see them live. Back in January, Oli Brown & The Dead Collective released a brilliant EP. A couple of months later, they opened for The Answer. I was there, in Birmingham, to see the new look band (Sam Wood of Black Star Riders/Wayward Sons was in) play. Except they didn’t “play”, not really. There was something else going on. There was a force, somewhere, flowing through it. All music matters. This mattered more. This wasn’t an artist who was playing for the sake of it. Oli Brown needed this.

That feeling is all over the quartet of songs that make up “Prologue” too. There’s one, “Father”, that comes from deep. “The devil’s on your mind”, sings Brown, and before the end of the first verse, “he wants to see you burn”. This is Brown laying it all out for his benefit, these words simply had to get out. Anyone who has struggled will understand. Those that haven’t can just enjoy a brilliant song.

It’s one of four here. The EP – it’s a physical-only release, no Spotify, as if to force you to actually properly listen to something for once – begins with the epic “Your Love”. Brown used to be a blues guitar player, the first time I saw him he was a young man opening for Walter Trout. If this is blues – and there are hints of it, perhaps more so than for a while, then it’s on a grand scale, a vast soundscape. And if you chuck names like Jeff Buckley about, it’s not far from the mark.

“Everything You Want” follows up with a crunching, and look, Soundgarden isn’t too far away. But it’s got a class all of its own.

The last one, “Sinking Ship” – features Wood in the studio for the first time – the studio band has Andrew Banfield (piano, percussion), Steve Amadeo and Alex Phillips (bass) – also has Jo Quail on cello. It was originally on the first EP. Here it is gloriously claustrophobic before exploding, perhaps in a message of hope as the demons are vanquished?

Whatever, this is a brilliant collection. One which underlines that Oli Brown & The Dead Collective are perhaps the most promising bands in Britain.

We’ve had the “Prelude”, now we’ve got the “Prologue”, yet somehow, you know, the story isn’t written yet.

Rating: 9/10

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