Jigsaw is best remembered for their 1975 hit “Sky High”, but the British band wrote and recorded many great songs that remain available on compact disc. The 2006 CD release “Free Soul Drive with Jigsaw” showcases some of the band’s best songs dating from the early 1970’s to the early 1980’s. Led by the gifted songwriter and singer Des Dyer – who co-wrote the vast majority of the group’s songs with keyboard player Clive Scott – Jigsaw proves to be capable of doing some great songs which were never popular but well worth listening to. Now considered something of a disco classic, “Sky High” was composed for the 1975 Australian-Hong Kong movie, “The Man from Hong Kong.” It did not take long for the film’s theme song to reach #3 on Billboard and #9 on the UK Singles Chart in 1975 when the movie hit the theatres. In Japan, the song went straight to #1, a nation where Jigsaw is still popular, given to the number of compact discs released there. “Free Soul Drive with Jigsaw” is one such disc, released on the Victor Entertainment label.
“Sky High” introduces the twenty-four song set on the disc, followed by a sampling of every genre Jigsaw has thus far covered to date: psychedelic, pop rock, funkadelic, and soft pop. This variety might sound like a mishmash, but it’s Des Dyer’s vocals that make the song transition listenable, if not a pleasure to hear. Des’s singing is pure gold: capable of executing a clear falsetto on a song like “If I Have to Go Away”, a lower register such as “Tell Me Why”, or pure soul on “Here We Go Again.” For those only familiar with the group’s biggest hit, just hearing Des Dyer sing is a treat in itself. Of course, he is not just a great vocalist, what with his drumming and prolific songwriting skills which shine in every Jigsaw song, but Des has a voice that evokes an active ear, rather than just passive listening.
“See Me Flying” is from the 1971 LP Aurora Borealis, a delightfully psychedelic song showcasing Des’s ethereal voice. “Listen to the Joker” is danceable funkadelic, reminiscent of Stevie Wonder or Wild Cherry. The beautiful but sad song “Have You Heard the News” which appears on their 1973 LP “Broken Hearted” is a throwback to the 1960’s. The psychedelic “Say Hello to Mrs Jones” appeared on their first LP titled “Letherslade Farm” released on the Philips label, a rarity that fetches up to $300.00 and over in U.S. dollars.
The one song missing from “Free Soul Drive With Jigsaw” is “Blow Blow Thou Winter Wind”, a true Jigsaw gem from “Letherslade Farm” which does not appear in this collection but should – the musical arrangements to a classic Shakespeare poem would no doubt have the English literary giant, as they say, getting down. Transformed into a bluesy song, Jigsaw is nothing short of brilliant in their arrangements here.
Personal favorites on “Free Soul Drive With Jigsaw” are “Summertime Wintertime”, “Who Do You Think You Are”, “Tell Me Why”, and “Face the Music.” This disc has appeal not just for Jigsaw fans but for anyone who prefers blue-eyed soul, classic 1970’s soft pop, or psychedelic music. Outside of the genres, individuals who appreciate great vocalist talent will find room in their compact disc collection for Jigsaw. Time has been very good to Des Dyer, who still sings and performs as half an act in England today. What is really amazing about the former lead of singer of Jigsaw is that he sounds just as fabulous now in his mid-60’s as he did in his early 20’s.