Where (In Conclusion)
02. Stoned Silence (Ron Terry/John DeMartino/Ralph DeMartino) - 5:24
03. Odyssey (Ron Terry/Michael Rodriguez) - 3:39
04. The Mothers Day Song (Ron Terry/Ralph DeMartino) - 6:15
05. Aza (Ron Terry/Ram) - 20:53 including:
a) Spiral Paths
c) Peril And Fearer
d) Where? (In Conclusion)
- John DeMartino - saxophone, flute, clarinet
- Ralph DeMartino - guitar, vocals
- Michael Rodriguez - bass, vocals
- Bob Steeler - drums
- Dennis Carbone - piano, vocals
Fluffy goat with spiralling horns beckons you
Ram's sole album Where (In Conclusion) is a bit of a head scratcher, not because of its rather lame title, but because of it living in anonymity in all of these years. Normally I'll be suggesting you to pick up some out-there Krautrock obscurity, which in all fairness does have a narrow and small following - even within the psychedelic listening fold, but here there is absolutely no excuse not to get excited, wild and rambunctious(ho ho). Ram was a short-lived American band who played a form of heavy rock meets psych - in a manner that should feel right at home to all you Atomic Rooster, Uriah Heep and T2 aficionados. This is fantastic stuff - and I'll stake my portion of the space station Mir, that every rock n roller out there over 35 with a penchant for any of the aforementioned bands probably will adore this very album like they do a well served glass of beer.
Ram were not out to reinvent the wheel. They didn't break the rules - make up their own perimeters with trail blazing froggy emanations of belching oboe sections, but what they do, they do incredibly well. Consisting of two different personalities, Where (In Conclusion) takes the listener through a well oiled hard prog machine with grunt, power and balls to the walls attitude in all the right places. The other side of the equation delivers the umphh - the progressive tendencies - just like the space pistol wah wah, the shepherd flute, the Canterburian sax ornamentations on top of the beat, and a series of furious drum sections that snarl and roar with the confidence of an urban black panther.
The vocals here are heartfelt, soulful and not entirely unlike those you'd find on a Grateful Dead album from around the same time, albeit with a decisively more meaty expression to them. What I'm reminded most of though is German obscurity Nosferatu - especially in the way the wind instruments compliment those vocals. It's all part of the big rock n roll picture here, even if things are quieted down a bit with the breezy and psychedelic Odyssey, where the band opts for a slicker ethereal atmosphere that celebrates the natural progression of the whole thing.
My absolute favourite thing about this album is when it throws away the linear storytelling of the first couple of tracks. Like I said previously, the album dabbles in alternate musical expressions, and to some extent we are facing a two headed horse here. -Or let me rephrase that: a two headed ram. The ram is actually a pretty cool image to mirror this music in, and if you can picture this band riding over stock and stone on this testosterone filled creature, that crashes down doors like a hot knife slices through butter, then you're not entirely far off. It's that kind of rock music we're facing here, at least in the first couple of tracks leading up to the big kahouna. It feels earthy, rocking, streamlined and American like chewing tobacco and driving a big roaring Ford Mustang. Then for the final epic my guess is that the band went for a little walk around the studio -lighted up a doobie and bought a fish tank they would somehow incorporate into the music. Something certainly happened that's for sure...
Aza is where things get really interesting - at least to this listener, and sticking to the ram illustration here, it truly feels like the band throws away the harness - letting this creature run free out on great majestic planes - whilst being reduced to mere passengers tagging along for the duration of the ride. The music transforms into a space rock excursion with foggy ethereal vocal bits, lofty flute accompaniment and a looser and more wobbly guitar that puts the gelatine into this sponge cake. The track doesn't sound like it's bereft of focus or coherence, but rather like it takes these individuals through a multitude of alternating sections, that are every bit as funky and tight as the preceding songs, though Aza feels much more like a feat - like a voyage on its own premises. This is also where you encounter the most progressive material within this album - like the sudden jazzy polyrhythmic outbursts from the drums or the trippy stuttering keyboard section at the very end, which slowly and comfortably segues into this beautiful liquid surface of sonic experimentation, where the keys take on the hybrid form of a supernatural harmonica mixed with a yearning viola(?). It all ends with the moaning cries of the lead singer that melt the way into this otherworldly organ exorcise, and you wonder where those 21 minutes went.
This album is recommended to every progressive rock fan out there, and just now thinking about pears and other fruits, I suddenly remember which other act these guys remind me off: Polyphony! Yet another American obscurity that mixed hard rock with psych tendencies, back when your dad looked like a girl. If you want a hot sweaty slice of the 70s complete with the proverbial space excursion, high soaring guitar solos, mojo filled vocals and a band that propels itself forward like a fluffy goat with spiralling horns, then do yourself a favour and watch out for Ram. This is one smoking album!