Saturday, January 16, 2016

Edgewood - 1972 - Ship Of Labor

Ship Of Labor

01. Is not Had No Lovin '- 4:19
02. Why Do not You Listen - 5:02
03. Burden Of Lies - 3:54
04. Ship Of Labor - 6:34
05. Unconscious Friend - 3:14
06. Medieval People - 3:44
07. We Both Stand To Lose - 4:44
08. What You See - 3:07
09. Silent - 6:32

David Mayo - vocals, guitar, keyboards
David Beaver - vocals, keyboards
Jim Tarbutton - lead guitar
Pat Taylor - vocals, guitar
Steve Spear - bass
Joel Williams - drums, percussion

Every time I see the cover on this LP I marvel at the audacity some marketing folks had ...  Can you imagine trying to sell an album showing manacled hands and legs in Memphis, Tennessee?  In this day and age you'd probably find yourself with a riot on your hands.

Edgewood's roots are kind of interesting in that keyboardist David Beaver, bassist Steve Spear, guitarist Jim Tarbutton were all members of the Memphis based The Gentrys (albeit a late inning version of the group).  Apparently increasingly bored within the pop confines imposed by The Gentrys, the three quit in 1970, promptly recruiting drummer Mike Bleecker (replaced by Joel Williams), multi-instrumentalist David Mayo, and guitarist Pat Taylor for Edgewood (named after the Memphis street Taylor was living on).  The band spent several months writing, rehearsing and playing local clubs before signing with the small Memphis-based TMI label.

A quick word of warning - anyone expecting to hear a collection of Gentrys-styled garage/blue eyed soul moves is going to be in for a major shock when they hear 1972's Jimm Johnson produced "Ship of Labor".  With all six band members contributing tot he album, material such as 'Why Don't You Listen', 'Unconscious Friend' and 'What You See' featured a distinctive progressive edge, though the longer and more complex song structures retained a highly commercial edge that would have sounded good on FM radio. Imagine a group like Ambrosia or perhaps Kansas with a penchant for Southern garage rock and you'll be in the right aural neighborhood.  Sure, songs like the ominous title track, 'Burden of Lies' and 'Medieval People' (when's the last time you heard a Memphis band singing about the sins of Christian Crusaders) were a little bit quirky, but blessed with three strong vocalists in Beaver, Mayo and Taylor (they turned in some great harmony work on the title track and 'We Both Stand To Lose'), that was a minor drawback that could easily be overlooked.  Unlike anything you'd expect to hear from a Memphis band, the whole LP is worth hearing.  Personal favorite was the gorgeous ballad 'We Both Stand To Lose'.  There was also an instantly obscure single: 'Ain't Had No Lovin'' b/w 'Silent' (TMI catalog number ZS7 9011).

Over the next year the band served as the TMI house band, while continuing to play local clubs and opening Memphis dates for national acts ranging from Jeff Beck to Deep Purple.  They also recorded material for a follow-up album that was never released.  Having a tough time making it financially they finally called it quits in 1972. 

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