Liverpool-born drummer Aynsley Dunbar was one of the most respected musicians on the
international rock scene of the late ‘60s. His work with trailblazers such as John Mayall, David
Bowie, Lou Reed and Frank Zappa, with whom he had a lengthy association, have assured
his place in history. But Dunbar also laid down a marker as a bandleader in his own right. His
debut album, Doctor Dunbar’s Prescription was a confident set of electric blues that was full
of snappy tunes and high energy riffing.
Recorded in 1971, Blue Whale is considerably more experimental, though. It is really a case
of Dunbar drifting towards a hybrid of progressive rock and pyschedelia not far removed
from Zappa’s surreally comic, bitingly sardonic world. And indeed the cover of his seminal
‘Willie The Pimp’ is one of the highlights of the set. Accompanied by excellent rhythm
section players and soloists such as guitarists Ivan Zagni and Roger Sutton, bassist Peter
Friedberg, pianist-organist Tommy Eyre, and vocalist Paul Williams, Dunbar hit a creative
peak here that is emphatically maintained elsewhere on the album, which has mostly long
pieces full of notable light and shade.
This newly re-mastered version of Blue Whale puts one of the highpoints of Aynsley
Dunbar’s illustrious career back under the spotlight. He was rightly inducted into the Rock &
Roll Hall Of Fame in 2017 and there could be no more fitting example of his achievement
than an album that sounds impressively fresh 50 years after it was made.