Year of Release: 1974
It's tempting to describe the different genres of seventies rock in broad strokes - prog (widdly-wanky-woo), glam (thump, crunch, yeah!), hard rock (devils, witches, blues guitar, screeches and wails) and art rock (synthesisers squelch, vocals brood and yearn, unexpected ambient interludes). In reality, the scene was rather more confused and disorientated than that, and elements of any of these noises tended to make themselves present in many discs. The Sweet, for example, loved to play around with hard rock on B-sides when they got the chance, and the line between art rock and prog rock was often blurred - lest we forget, Davy O'List of The Nice was in the early line-up of Roxy Music.
Similarly, it's hard to know where to place Jackal in the grand scheme of things. There's an unquestionable pop glamness about "Year of the Tiger", but its doomy, apocalyptic lyrics seem to stem from Black Sabbath, and the wellington boot-in-mud noise of the synths sounds could only be inspired by Moroder. It's a wonderful single, though, which seeps atmosphere and saunters with sheer conviction - a lesser band could have made the whole affair sound truly ridiculous, but the A-side here draws its inspiration from the likes of Locomotive's "Mr Armageddan" rather than "In the Year 2525". Named after the Chinese astrological year which apparently frequently summons war, earthquakes and famine, it broods on your turntable for three-and-a-half minutes utterly confident in its own ability to summon up the four horsemen, and as such is one of the rare singles to dominate a room without a powerful chorus or even an upbeat rhythm to aid it. Apparently it managed to pick up some radio play in the UK at the time of release, but it flopped - though perhaps unsurprisingly, it's been plundered by a psychedelic compilation series since, and is available on iTunes to buy. You can find a brief clip of it below, however, and somebody has been kind enough to upload it on to YouTube here.
The B-side "Big Star" is rather more straightforward, but nonetheless points towards a band who could have had some success if they'd had a chance to put out more singles. As it stands, "Year of the Tiger" was their only effort on the short-lived UK arm of BASF records - a company more known for tapes and storage mediums in Britain than anything much else.
Jackal hailed from the Craven area of Yorkshire and consisted of Paul Sutton on lead vocals and guitar, Geoff Appleby on bass guitar and backing vocals, and Gary Burroughs on drums. Great things were apparently expected of them in some quarters, which hopefully means that there may have been further recording sessions and therefore more material out there somewhere - so if anyone knows what happened to the band and where they are now, do leave a comment.