Monday, February 9, 2015

Masters Of The Airwaves - 1974 - Masters Of The Airwaves

Masters Of The Airwaves
Masters Of The Airwaves

01. In It for the Thrill (5:45)
02. I Believe in God (4:26)
03. Stay Away From Mirrors (3:23)
04. Light Up the Heavens (5:15)
05. Anna King Jamaica (3:40)
06. Back in '51 (3:35)
07. Squeeze Me Positive (2:35)
08. Highway to Hell (3:43)
09. Gettin' Tight (6:00)

- Jimmy Berick / guitars
- David Rada / drums
- Randy Schuchart / bass (credited as Randy Rand)
- Jonathon Fredrick Boring / vocals (credited as Jon Flak)

The short-lived Masters of the Airwaves was built around the talents of lead guitarist Jimmy Berick.  Berick had been kicking around the Northwest music scene playing in a number of local bands when his unique double-necked, 16 string, steel guitar caught the attention of Epic Records.  Signed to a contract in 1973, Berick turned around and recruited singer Jon Flak, who he'd previously worked with in the experimental band Acejet and Heatray.  At the time Flak was playing in the Oregon-based blues-rock band Silverhill.  Flak jumped at the opportunity, bringing Silverhill drummer David Rada and bassist Randy Rand along with him.

Settling on the hopeful name Masters of the Airwaves, the quartet went into Sausalito's Record Plant studios with producers Jorman Kurban and Michael Sunday (who was responsible for signing Berick to Epic).   Released in 1974, "Masters of the Airwaves" featured a set heavy on originals written or co-written by Berick (including two tracks with the infamous Kim Fowley's fingerprints on them).  On the surface this was a fairly conventional mixture of mid-1970s AOR with occasional progressive nods,.  The album mixed the usual formulaic young-horny-guys-suffering-from-an-overdose-of-lust rock songs ('In It for the Thrill') with a couple of pop-tinged numbers ('Highway To Hell').  Flak was certainly a decent lead singer who seemingly picked up most of his cues from listening to the likes of Paul Rodgers and Robert Plant, though he had a tendency to turn shrill (think John Waite) whenever he pushed himself too hard.  About all I can say is that in the lead vocalist department you've certainly heard worse and you've certainly heard better.  To his credit, most of Flak's performance grew on you after awhile.  The band's rhythm section was more than proficient with bassist Rand turning in some impressive moves (check out his work on 'Light Up the Heavens').  Still, the band's not-so secret weapon and major draw was guitarist Berick whose 'rocked-up' steel guitar made for some unique and entertaining material - imagine the sound of a Hawaiian slat-key guitar fed through the biggest fuzz guitar pedal you've ever heard.  It probably doesn't sound all that promising, but the man certainly generated some interesting sounds hat should readily appeal to any Jimmy Page fan out there.

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