Friday, October 2, 2015

Sea Train - 1971 - Marblehead Messenger

Sea Train 
Marblehead Messenger

01. Gramercy 2:59
02. The State of Georgia's Mind 4:01
03. Protestant Preacher 5:23
04. Lonely's Not the Only Way to Go 2:23
05. How Sweet Thy Song 5:00
06. Marblehead Messenger 2:40
07. London Song 4:20
08. Mississippi Moon 3:13
09. Losing All the Years 4:34
10. Despair Tire 5:29

Bass, Flute, Vocals – Andy Kulberg
Drums, Percussion – Larry Atamanuik
Violin, Mandolin, Vocals – Richard Greene
Vocals, Guitar – Peter Rowan
Vocals, Keyboards – Lloyd Baskin

More of the same, but the songs aren't quite as good.  The Kulberg/Roberts pairing seems to have gone in an odd direction; Roberts' lyrics are better ("The State of Georgia's Mind"), but Kulberg's music did not tread any new ground.  This, and the decisions to restrict Greene, simplify Baskin's parts a bit, and bring Rowan up more, deprivec the band of any real musical identity (the jaunty folk of "Gramercy" could be anyone and the anti-war title track, which sounds like a flop single).  Kulberg surprisingly tried to resurrect Sea Train's classical-hybrid sound right down to the fuzzy guitar on "London Song," but note that surprise does not equal great, however, or especially good.  Where surprise does equal good is with Rowan, whose writing skills blossomed.  He contributed three songs, two of which are fun down-home songs ("Protestant Preacher" with Roberts-like lyrics, the 3/4 ballad "Mississippi Moon").  Baskin wrote one song, "Lonely's Not the Only Way to Go", which on first listen might sound like a song about being friends, but upon closer inspection appears to deal with multiple personalities!   Another warning sign is the resurrection of Sea Train's "As I Lay Losing," retitled as "Losing All the Years."  This Seatrain gave a different (inferior) feeling, imbuing it with the warm friendliness of a 70s roots-rock band, instead of its original colder, dark reading.  Greene has one showcase number ("Despair Tire"), an odd combination of his hyperspeed bluegrass fiddle interspersed with Roberts reading intentionally goofy lyrics somewhere between Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein.  A strange mixture, and one would much rather listen to Greene than Roberts continually pun on the phrase "despair tire."  Fans of Seatrain will want to check this out, but it is not a good place to start with the band.  Produced by George Martin.

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