Saturday, January 9, 2016

Ambergris - 1970 - Ambergris


01 - Something Happened To Me
02 - Play on Player
03 - Gotta Find Her
04 - Chocolate Pudding
05 - Forget it, I got it
06 - Walking on the water
07 - Sunday Lady
08 - Home Groan
09 - Soul Food
10 - Endless Night

*Larry Harlow - Piano, Organ, Percussion
*Jerry Weiss - Fender Bass, Piano
*Charlie Camilleri - Lead Trumpet
*Harry Max - Trumpet, String Bass,, Violin
*Jimmy Maeulen - Vocals, Conga Drum
*Billy Shay - Guitar, Harmonica
*Lewis Kahn - Trombone, Violin
*Glenn John Miller - Trombone
*Gil Fields - Drums

Ambergris, as it turned out, was a one-shot album from a band formed by Jerry Weiss, who’d played keyboards with the first version of Blood, Sweat and Tears. Leaving before the group recorded the second album, he formed Ambergris and got Steve Cropper of MG’s fame to produce it. It’s not groundbreaking in the way that the first BST album was or in the way that Chicago’s first two albums were. There are hints of Latin influences in some of the tracks, while some of them sound as if they could easily have been lifted from sessions by BST or Chicago. Highlights, from my listening, are “Play On Player” and “Walking on the Water.”

Jimmy Maelen (vocals & percussion) who played with John Lennon, the Jacksons, Talking Heads, Alice Cooper, Marlena Shaw, Jimi Hendrix, Peter Gabriel, Buddy Rich & too many others to mention. Lewis Kahn (trombone / violin) who later played live with Tito Puente. Larry Harlow (piano, organ & percussion) who had previously put out releases on the lauded Fania label and would much later record with the Mars Volta.

Produced and engineered by founding member of Booker T & The MG's, Steve Cropper. Love this record.



  2. If you're a Blood, Sweat and Tears, or early Chicago fan this one-off project might be of passing interest. Otherwise, you can stop reading right here ...It's hard to believe now, but in the late 1960s/early 1970s horn rock was all the rage. Driven by the success David Clayton Thomas and BS&T, Chicago, and others enjoyed, record labels began scouring the countryside for any entity that could be marketed as a horn band. Paramount Records contribution to the feeding frenzy came in the form of Ambergris. If you were a horn band then bigger was apparently considered better and as a ten piece ensemble Ambergris was up there. The band featured the talents of drummer Gil Fields, keyboardist Larry Harlow, singer Jimmy Maeulen, guitarist Billy Shay, former BS&T bassist Jerry Weiss, and a horn section showcasing Charlie Camilleri, Lewis Kahn, Harry Max, and Glenn Jon Miller.

    Produced by Steve Cropper, 1970's cleverly titled "Ambergris" should have resulted in something interesting, but judging by these ten tracks, these guys didn't bring anything original or unique to the genre and Cropper was apparently clueless as to what to do with them. Exemplified by tracks like 'Something Happened To Me'' and 'Endless Night' the players were all pretty good with Bill Shay distinguishing himself with a couple of impressive turns on guitar. Unfortunately, among the weakness, as lead singer Maeulen was an acquired taste; his raw voice managed to hold its own against the horns, but it wasn't all that much fun to listen to. Add to that none of the ten songs was particularly memorable, or impressive. Best of the lot was the oddly titled 'Chocolate Pudding',but this LP one was a major disappointment all around, best thing about the album is the cover art!