Race With the Devil
LAUGHTER: RACE WITH THE DEVIL
Something a little more fun, this time…… I well remember watching this on Top of the Pops as an eleven year old, held in awe by the sheer power of it, revelling at the guitar and the speed of the soloing, at least to my innocent ears, to the size of the singer’s hair and to the mention of the devil. Such a potent mix of sound and imagery was enough to have my mother asking what I was smiling at. And looking worried. I never understood why this was their sole chart botherer, as surely these were the four horsemen of the apocalypse, or three of them perhaps. Mind you, and to this day, I have never heard any other of their work, even as the brothers Gurvitz, for it was they, as Gun. They later hooked up with Ginger Baker as the Baker Gurvitz Army, another gap in my listening history, of which there are arguablyfew.
So, apart from me smiling at the fireside 45 years ago, what can this possibly have to do with laughter? Listen, dear reader, listen: maniacal laughter occurring twice in the song, as an alternative, I guess, to a more conventional middle eight. It sounds a little, um, forced and, even, feeble, in the harsh light of today, but back in the 60s I found this every bit as thrilling as Christopher Price baring his fangs in various and assorted Hammer Draculas. In fact, I loved it. 1968 was actually very fertile for maniacal laughter, it being round about the same time as Arthur Brown was cackling madly as the God of Hellfire in his similarly sole hit record. (Maybe he was the missing fourth horseman?)
Trivia merchants may now be champing at their bits, eager to remind of the Judas Priest cover version of several years later, a shabby patch on the original, primarily as it replaces the laughter with a slightly incongruous guitar motif. So that couldn’t possibly have any place within this strand.