Sunday, July 19, 2015

Warm Dust - 1972 - Warm Dust

Warm Dust 
Warm Dust

01. Lead Me To The Light (5:22)
02. Long Road (4:50)
03. Mister Media (3:10)
04. Hole In The Future (8:39)
05. A Night On Bare Mountain (1:05)
06. The Blind Boy Parts I - V (18:19)

- Dransfield "Les" Walker / lead vocals, percussion
- Paul Carrack / organ, piano, percussion
- Alan Soloman / saxophones, flute, keyboards, synthesizer
- John Surgey / guitar, saxophones, flute
- Terry "Tex" Comer / bass, percussion
- John Bedson / drums, percussion

Guest musicians:
- John Knightsbridge / guitar
- Eddy & Casper / percussion

Third and last album from this sextet that can be included in the fairly closed category of brass rock. With only a change of drummer (Bedson coming in for Bailey), this album is the logical continuity of the two previous albums, entertaining us with a brass-heavy proto-prog rock that is often uneven, but can reach awesome height of brilliance. Coming with an rather amazing but naïve gatefold artwork depicting an orca whale having swallowed the band on their raft, along with a couple of sexy mermaids.

The first side is filled with short tracks (bar one) that have more to do with pure brass rock ala Blood Sweat & Tears than with prog, even if Long Road is one of those pleasers that even the harder-lined progheads would have a hard time resisting. The lengthier Hole In The Future has a long Indian-laced mid-section where Surguy's flute hold the centre stage before a fairly flawed Moog solo from Carrack destroys the previous effort and the track suddenly and abruptly (no warning) reverting to its original pattern. Gone are the superbly subtle chord changes of Rejection in their previous album, so much that this track has a "botch job" written all over it.

Obviously on the flipside, everyone is waiting for the 18-min+ Blind Boy suite to save the album, but one has to be patient and suffer a rather tedious (but thankfully short) rendition of Sibelius' Bare Mountain. However the Blind Boy suite does come in to save the album from sinking to depths of no-return, as it is easily the album's highlight and is often as inspired as the previous album was. The opening movement called trouble In The Mill sounds like a superb Oblivion Express track meeting Chicago Transit Authority for a full speed crash on rails. The following Clogs And Shawls is a quiet starter where Surguy's enchanted flute is leading through a slow crescendo with all the finesse you hoped they would developed on the first side of the album and finally climaxing with Walker's delicious gutsy vocals in the following self-titled movement. Superb stuff. But with such climax, the fall could only have been a shattering one, and the band takes a few minutes to collect the scattered parts and start reassembling them to rebuild an awesome groove called Slibe, where Soloman's sax might be reminiscent of Traffic's Chris Wood. Spine chills and goose bumps assured. The closing Dustbust is just a short recall of the original riff

With only the 5-part Blind Boy suite to save the album from drowning, that very same track being worth the ticket price alone, Warm Dust's last album is a very uneven affair, not matching the constancy and consistence of Peace For Our Time, but the album's centerpiece is definitely the group's best achievement without the slightest hint of a shadow of a beginning of a doubt. Hard not to give it at least equal rating than its predecessor.

Warm Dust - 1971 - Peace For Our Time

Warm Dust 
Peace For Our Time

01. Blood Of My Fathers (5:05)
02. Winds Of Change (5:13)
03. Justyfy, Things Your Hands Have Done (8:50)
04. Rejection (4:41)
05. Very Small Child (4:13)
06. Song For A Star (4:50)
07. Peace Of Mind (3:34)

- Dransfield " Les" Walker / lead vocals, vibraphone, harp, shakers
- Paul Carrack / organ, piano, tympani, vocals
- Alan Soloman / saxophones, flute, clarinet, organ, keyboards
- John Surgey / guitar, saxophones, flute, oboe, vocals
- Terry "Tex" Comer / bass
- Keith Bailey / drums, percussion, vocals

"Peace For Our Time" Warm Dust ,have titled their second album. This quote from Neville Chamberlain, with Selbiger statement to waiting journalists held out the contract paper of the Munich Agreement of September 30, 1938, and apparently a soldier Performing Cover suggest it to know: The LP is a concept album or against the war and its consequences (eg, hunger and environmental degradation).

Each of the tracks begins with a brief spoken introduction, in a historic, mostly war-related event is described, followed by a moral world-improving warning or confirmation. Underlaid the whole thing each with a slightly dissonannten sound jumble of different instruments and threatening organ Wabern. With the Munich agreement mentioned just now it starts, then follow inter alia Pearl Harbor / Hiroshima, the Korean War, the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia and Vietnam before is read to the last track, the "Constitution Of Life" by Timothy Leary. But this musical program actually does not match the serious subject. An almost cheerful, easy-fuzzy jazz rock is to come out of the speakers that can not deny a certain relationship to simultaneous productions of Canterbury.

Most accentuate rather gentle, just behave roaring organ tones this music, rhythmic support from a pretty powerful bass and drums. In general, the sweeping solos and duets of the two blower from working on various saxophones and flutes, oboe and clarinet at. Sometimes sounds even once a vibraphone, a jazzy piano or a guitar solo, rarely gets really rocked level. The somewhat silly Honky Tonky number "Wrote A Letter" and the final "Peace Of Mind", a ballad worn with longer oboe solo, but do not fit into this scheme. Dransfield Walker no longer sings more than ever on "And It Came To Pass", but his voice will occasionally be electronically altered. But when he sings, he acts quickly affected and intrusive. "Peace For Our Time" is a pretty decent album in which (in my opinion) the underlying concept does not really fit the music, and from today's perspective anmutet a little naive. Nevertheless, one has to acknowledge the dedication of the group.

Warm Dust but are at their best when they jazzy rock in the form of long sequences, the lines of the various instruments devour complex, as in the middle of "Justify The Things Your Hands Have Done". The rest of the album is very nice, not necessarily surprising, but certainly not bad.
by Adamus67

The second album from UK '70's prog band warm dust - Peace For Our Time - highlights their jazz rock fusion sound with several War themes. The sax really stands out counterpointing the organ nicely and combined with some great vocals shows how Jazz fusion should be played.

Peace For Our Time” is an excellent progressive album with strong vocals, long sax and flute instrumental sections and good organ work. Several tracks like “Rejection” and “Wind Of Change” veered towards jazz but one, “Wrote A Letter”, was an acoustic bluesy number with interesting lyrics.

Warm Dust - 1970 - And It Came To Pass

Warm Dust 
And It Came To Pass

01. Turbulance (11:00)
02. Achromasia (7:13)
03. Circus (5:35)
04. Keep On Trucking (4:27)
05. And It Came To Pass (10:24)
06. Loosing Touch (7:44)
07. Blues For Pete (7:18)
08. Man Without A Straw (4:26)
09. Wash My Eyes (14:05)
10. Indian Rope Man (6:10)

- Dransfield "Les" Walker / lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
- Paul Carrack / organ, piano, guitar
- John Surgey / tenor & Alto saxophones, flute, oboe, clarinet, vibraphone
- Alan Saloman / baritone, Tenor & Alto saxophones, flute, oboe, piano
- Terry "Tex" Comer / bass, guitar, recorder
- Dave Pepper / drums, percussion

Among the wave of brass rock groups that embraced the rock world from 68 until 71 or 72, Warm Dust was a late-comer, but quickly became one of the most interesting and progressive group of the genre. The sextet developed a solid psych-laced progressive brass rock, lead by the twin sax players of Alan Solomon and John Surguy and featuring future Mike Rutherford and Steve Hackett acolyte Paul Carrack.

They released their debut album And It Came To Pass on the small Trend label and the double vinyl was a small tour-de-force (all things considered for a debut effort) with long compositions, thought-provoking lyrics and plenty of instrumental interplay, including sax, flute, organ, guitars etc.. Their second (conceptual) album released the following year is a frightening recount of the horrors of war and remains their most even album and usually pointed by connoisseurs as their best. It came out in Germany under a different name (Peace For Our Times) on the BASF label. Their last self-titled album with a striking whale artwork is mostly remembered for the sidelong suite blind boy, a stunning full-blown progressive track, which remains their crowning achievements.

Warm dust is definitely of of one the Brass Rock genre's more interesting band along with Brainchild, Galliard and in all honesty deserve at least as much recognition as the much more celebrated early Chicago, If or the cheesy BS&T and certainly much more fame than The Greatest Show On Earth. Exactly why the group broke up remains a mystery for me, so if anyone knows anything, please let us know!

Warm Dust was one of those obscure progressive rock bands that slipped through the cracks, but released three albums. This was an early band featuring Paul Carrack before he earned his fame with Ace ("How Long"), Sqeeze ("Tempted"), and of course Mike & the Mechanics, not to mention the solo albums he did in the '80s. Now I understand the name Paul Carrack might make many of you run like hell, but what he's done in Warm Dust is nothing like those groups I mentioned.

In 1970, they released their debut album And It Came to Pass, and like Chicago when they were still Chicago Transit Authority or the Mothers of Invention's Freak Out, is one of the rare examples of a double album debut. Aside from Paul Carrack, the group also featured vocalist/guitarist Dransfield "Les" Walker, John Surgey on wind instruments (flute, sax, oboe, clarinet), Alan Salomen on additional wind instruments, Terry "Tex" Comer on bass and guitars, and Dave Pepper on drums and percussion.

Frequently this band was described as Chicago meets Caravan, but they really weren't a brass rock band like Chicago, Blood, Sweat & Tears, and such British counterparts as The Greatest Show on Earth or IF, but musically they could also bring to mind such groups. For one thing, Warm Dust wasn't really a horn rock band, but sax and flute, on top of Paul Carrack's Hammond organ was what made up this band's sound. If anything, they remind me a bit of Web/Samurai (Dave Lawson's bands prior to Greenslade that had a sound dominated by wind instruments).

Cuts like "Turbulance", "Achromasia" and "Circus" are full of pleasant use of sax, flute, and organ, often in a jazzy and bluesy manner, with some psychedelic overtones. "Keep on Truckin'" really is out of place on this album, a more boogie-oriented number, but the album goes back to familiar territory with the epic title track, which is in the vein of the first three cuts. It's my opinion the second disc (the last five cuts) is even better.

"Blues For Pete" is the perfect example of the band exploring the blues in a rather interesting way, while "Washing My Eyes" for some reason reminds me a bit of what the German group Birth Control did on "This Song is Just For You" off their 1975 album Plastic People, especially the organ work, although it's a wonderful, extended piece. They also do a cover of the much covered Richie Havens song "Indian Rope Man" (that Julie Driscoll with Brian Auger & The Trinity and the German group Frumpy had also done) and did it in style with funky organ work and great use of wind instruments.

Given what Paul Carrack had later involved himself musically, he finds Warm Dust an embarrassment from his youth (he was just 18 when they recorded And It Came to Pass), and strongly encourages everyone to avoid Warm Dust like a plague. I'm sorry I can't agree with him on this opinion, this is perfectly good progressive rock, it's his only real foray into this kind of music (Mike & the Mechanics hardly counts despite the Genesis connection, they were simply a pop group, much like Genesis was at that point).

The great thing about listening to a Warm Dust album is you get completely no reminders of "How Long", "All I Need is a Miracle" or "The Living Years" whatsoever, which is a good thing. The reason Warm Dust didn't get much notice was it was released on a small label called Trend, meaning they probably didn't have the means to promote the band properly (even those little known British horn bands like IF and The Greatest Show on Earth had the benefit of being on major labels like Island and Harvest). Even if Paul Carrack gets you running, but you enjoy groups like Web/Samurai, IF, The Greatest Show On Earth, and the likes, you really can't go wrong here!

Phluph - 1968 - Phluph


01. Dr. Mind - 2:51
02. It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry - 2:41
03. In Her Way - 3:03
04. Another Day - 4:40
05. Girl in Tears - 3:10
06. Ellyptical Machine - 2:30
07. Lovely Lady - 5:50
08. Death of a Nation - 2:30
09. Love Eyes - 6:56
10. Patterns - 2:33

* Lee Dudley - Vocals, Drums
* Ben Blake - Vocals, Guitar
* John Pell - Vocals, Bass
* Joel Maisano - Vocals, Organ

Hailing from Boston in the late sixties, Phluph recorded their one and only album for the Verve record label before drifting off into obscurity. One wonders why such a talented group never achieved success in the music industry.

Perhaps Verve, being a predominatly jazz based label, did not know how to promote the band properly. Or perhaps it was because Phluph were part of the ill-fated "Bosstown Sound" scene which caused such a furore in the music industry at that time.

The “Bosstown Sound” was started as a publicity campaign by producer Alan Lorber, aiming to market the various Boston based psychedelic bands on MGM’s books (The Ultimate Spinach, Eden’s Children etc) as being part of one singular movement.

The idea was to rival the burgeoning San Francisco scene as well as the Mersey-Beat sound that was being imported from across the Atlantic. Unfortunately the rock critics and the underground took umbrage at what they deemed was a shallow corporate attempt at selling the counter-culture back to them as a package.

There was strong anti-establishment feeling at this time because of the Vietnam War, and this helped to fuel the fire against the Boston scene.

This coupled with the subsequent pressure from those on the West Coast who declaimed them as frauds, meant that many of the bands became black- listed, never getting the sales figures that they deserved.

Phluph never survived the backlash and disappeared, leaving behind their sole album cut for Verve in 1968. Since its rediscovery the album has garnered some disparaging reviews from some quarters, yet has been lauded by others.

In all honesty Phluph is not as ground breaking or experimental as other albums from that era but nevertheless it still stands as a great slice of psychedelic pop.

It is an album very much of its time, combining all the elements most people would expect from a late sixties piece; fuzz guitar, close harmonies, thinly veiled drug references in the lyrics and a heavy amount of organ grinding.

Sadly the sleeve notes don’t reveal which band member played which instrument, but working on the assumption that all organists from the sixties looked like Ray Manzarek, one can probably ear mark the chap with the enormous glasses and cunning haircut as being the man in charge of the keys.

And what a player the organist was. Just as Manzarek was the musical genius and driving force behind the Doors, so too the organist on this album steers the group to safety, manipulating the instrument in every way possible in order to draw from it all possible sounds.Whether it’s conjuring up mournful paranoia for “Girl in Tears” or propelling the group through the brilliant “Patterns” or the Beatles-esque “Ellyptical Machine”, the guy on the organ holds the day.

He even gets a freak out on the bizarre “Love Eyes”. This tune also boasts a haunting guitar solo which DJ Shadow sampled for his Private Press LP. Apart from those moments of genius the rest of track doesn’t hold up to much scrutiny.

“In Her Way” has got to be the pick of the bunch. Spaced out vocal harmonies and jangling guitar chords open the song before the band gets into a bass heavy groove.

The shimmering organ fades in and out under the bass line, before the track moves on to a great fuzzy guitar solo, with the guitarist making the instrument sound like a busted sitar. It’s a near perfect 3 minutes of psychedelic pop.

In the liner notes on the original LP there is a quote about the band from Cashbox Magazine: “We can’t see anything that could possibly hold back a group like this.When their reputation catches up with their ability, Phluph may very well be famous throughout the world”.

Unfortunately something did stand in their way and all the potential from such a talented bunch was never fully realised. In a different world maybe they would have been given a chance to become more than just a bargain bin relic
by Gerard Fannon

Vision Of Sunshine - 1970 - Vision Of Sunshine

Vision Of Sunshine 
Vision Of Sunshine 

01. Mourning Word 01:15
02. She Said 05:41
03. Mr. Bojangles 04:24
04. For You Alone 03:11
05. Stranger Here 04:02
06. Vision Of Sunhsine 04:26
07. Woke Up Staring At A Fire Hydrant 02:53
08. Summer Sundown Woman 03:51
09. Bizarrek Kind 03:23
10. You Get What You Pray For 05:18

Vision Of Sunshine:
 Jane Baltinhouse - Vocals
 Gerald Hauser - Guitar, Piano, Vocals
 Sean Allan Nelson - Celeste, Calliope, Harpsichord, Organ, Piano
 Terri Osiecki - Flute
 Mary Tiller - Flute

 Guest Musicians:
 Michael DeTemple - Banjo, Bass, Guitar
 Andy Douglas - Drums
 Jessie Eurlich - Cello
 Flint - Electric Guitar
 Joyce Miller - Cello
 Jack Carone - Voices
 Bill Lazarus - Percussion

This Californian quintet was led hy Gerald Mauser, who was romantically involved with singer Jane Boltinhouse. They rehearsed their material at the Lake Sherwood home of TV star Bob Denver (best-known for his role in Gilligan's Island), in what drummer Andy Douglas has subsequently decribed as 'a large rec room overlooking the pool, with a view of the lake'.

The link with Denver came through guitarist Mike DeTemple, who was house-sitting for him. Recorded at the legendary .Sunset Sound Recorders studio in Hollywood, their sole LP was produced by Howie Kane (a founder member of Jay & The Americans), and appeared in March 1970. Billboard wrote that 'the five regulars known as Vision Of Sunshine have come up with a unique sound on their debut LP.

The use of such unfamiliar instruments  as flute, celeste, calliope and harpsichord in a rock context, together with Jane Boltinhouse's haunting soprano, produces an ethereal A sound that is not only different but pleasing. She Said and the title cut are the best songs.'

Though they were disaffected by their label's reluctance to pay the session musicians used on the album, the band promoted it with gigs at the Troubadour club in Hollywood and at Los Angeles' Greek Theatre (on a bill with comic Don Ho and poet,folk singer Rod McKuen), ' but they disintegrated whilst on the road, shortly after Hauser and Boltinhouse's daughter Bright was born in 1970.

Their relationship disintegrated simultaneously, with Boltinhouse departing in search of herself. Hauser returned to LA and gradually made a name for himself as actor Wings Hauser (with parts in The Young & The Restless, Beverly Hills 90210 and Roseanne), while Mike DeTemple earned international acclaim for his guitar-building. Their album, meanwhile, was largely forgotten about four decades, though its cult reputation has steadily grown.

Rich Mountain Tower - 1971 - Rich Mountain Tower

Rich Mountain Tower
Rich Mountain Tower

01. Uncle Bob White
02. Circle Sky Moon Mix
03. Thank You, Maggie
04. If You Don't Look Back
05. Our Passage Home
06. He Ain't Got No Color, Boys
07. Song Of The Sea
08. The Same Thing Applies To Me That Applies To You
09. One Last Farewell

The Rich Mountain Tower
*Dana Paul - 12 String Guitar, Keyboards, Lead Vocals, Harmonica
*David Carr - Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
*Sandy Garrett - Bass, Vocals
*Randy Haspel - Guitar, Vocals
*Bob Tuccillo - Drums, Percussion

Additional Musicians
*Lamonte "Skip" Ousley - Congas, Percussion
*Charlie McCoy - Harmonica
*John "Hoffy" Hoffmann - Banjo
*Sonny Pitman - Bass
*Weldon Myrick - Steel Guitar
*Don Tweedy - Moog Synthesizer, String Arrangements

"Rich Mountain Tower's debut self-titled album, released in the fall of 1971, combines southern rock with acoustic ballads and psychedelic flourishes to create a sound well ahead of its time. Originally issued in quadrophonic sound, it's a superb recording that shows just what a fine and underrated band this Tennessee quintet was.

Really, though, these folks are mainly anchored in psychedelic folk, with a driving, rock rhythm and lots of jangly guitars and Southern-style slide balancing out the nascent twang. The lyrics are very hippie-dippie and diffuse, spacy, celebratory stuff about being alive and in nature, sung in airy harmonies with pedal steel an 12-string guitar providing sweet counterpoint -- all in all, a very Byrds-y sound.

A few Nashville studio pros were brought in to beef up the band's sound -- Charlie McCoy lays down a few hot harmonica riffs, and steel player Weldon Myrick adds gorgeous accompaniment throughout. There's not a lot on here that I would call "country," as opposed to rock, and a few songs may get irritating if you're just in search of country sounds, although for psych/folk-freak fans this record is a real treat. A mixed bag, but a great document of its time.

Earth Opera - 1969 - The Great American Eagle Tragedy

Earth Opera 
The Great American Eagle Tragedy

01. Home To You    4:27
02. Mad Lydia's Waltz    3:47
03. Alfie Finney    2:34
04. Sanctuary From The Law    2:54
05. All Winter Long    5:57
06. The American Eagle Tragedy    10:41
07. Roast Beef Love    3:16
08. It's Love    4:09

- Peter Rowan / acoustic guitar, electric guitar, tenor saxophone, vocals
- David Grisman / mandolin, mandocello, piano, alto saxophone, vocals
- Paul Dillon / drums, acoustic guitar, percussion, vocals
- John Nagy / electric bass, cello, mandocello

Earth Opera was joined on this recording by:
- Jack Bonus / tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, flute
- Richard Grando / c-soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, bass recorder
- John Cale / viola
- David Horowitz / piano, organ
- Bill Keith / pedal steel guitar
- Herb Bushler / double bass
- Bob Zachary / triangle

Earth Opera was one of several groups to come out of the rather infamous “Bosstown” scene, a motley wave of rather disparate bands modeled on the highly successful San Francisco sound and pushed by MGM publicity man Alan Lorber. Despite being grouped together in marketing and subsequent rock and roll history, the only real common denominator among these groups is, well, Boston. Each band really did have its own unique sound and aesthetic, and each deserves to be looked at independent from the record company hype that clouded their reputations back in the late 1960s. Earth Opera, headed by future bluegrass pioneers David Grisman and Peter Rowan (who had already made something of a name for himself singing with Bill Monroe), gave testimony to this spirit of individuality when they released The Great American Eagle Tragedy in 1969.

This is the second of Earth Operas two albums, released in 1968 and 1969. Their first was ornate, combigning tight songs with jazzy arrangements.

But between 1968 and 1969, rock changed. The Byrds replaced their fuzz-wrapped experiments with country. The Band became stars with roots Music From Big Pink. The Stones got shredded with Satanic Majesty's Request, but invited you to a Beggars Banquet, the stripped calling card to their peak years. Even the Beatles-who ushered in psychedelia and still indisputably ruled the hen-house-came back to base. Elvis joined in, making two masterpieces of Memphis soul.

The Great American Eagle Tragedy followed this parade. Peter Rowan, singer and mandolin player for Earth Opera, had bluegrass roots. The album's first side reflects this. "Home To You" could be straight from Nashville. "Alfie Finny" was a folk ballad. These and other tracks create a homey, rustic landscape.

But next is the title track, a long, driving peice about Vietnam carnage. Rowan sings operatically, building to a scream. "Stop The War. I can't take it anymore." Moving, almost violent, it still maintains an organic sound. The song was used in protest sets on FM progressive radio.

The album ends, returning to roots music. Rowans voice is searing, giving an ominous hue to even the lighter material. The title track is the only topical one here, and still works. The lyrics date it, but the music and the emotional impact is fresh.

Earth Opera may be buried in long-ago rock history, but both albums hold up.

Highly recommended

Earth Opera - 1968 - Earth Opera

Earth Opera 
Earth Opera


01. The Red Sox Are Winning    3:30
02. As It Is Before    7:21
03. Dreamless    2:50
04. To Care At All    3:34
05. Home Of The Brave    4:46
06. The Child Bride    4:40
07. Close Your Eyes And Shut The Door    2:45
08. Time And Again    5:45
09. When You Were Full Of Wonder    3:55
10. Death By Fire    6:05

Peter Rowan - guitar, vocals
David Grisman - mandolin, mandocello, vocals
John Nagy - bass
Bill Stevenson - piano, organ, vibes, harpsichord
Billy Mundi - drums, percussion
Warren Smith - drums, percussion
Paul Dillon - drums, vocals

Earth Opera emerged from the Boston folk scene (as did Appaloosa and James Taylor) and recorded two folk rock albums in the late-60's. The main figures of Peter Rowen and Dave Grisman played in various eastern US folk music groups as far back as the early 60's, and their early works can be found on the String Band Project released in 69 by folk-specialist label Elektra. Earth opera's signing to the label occurred at a moment when they were having success with rock acts, such as The Doors, Love and even Tim Buckley, so Earth Opera got their shot as well. Often portrayed as acid folk rock, they were also pinned by the reductive Bosstown (Boston) Sound syndrome, even if Earth opera didn't have much in common, certainly not in sound.

They recorded their two albums over 18 months, both produced by in-house producer Peter Siegel, with a rather stable line-up, although their second album had many guest musicians, including Velvet Underground's John Cale. Their music is a gentle folk rock with some unusual instrumentation (vibraphone), but also had a dark side, which provided some quite interesting songs, usually their longer tracks. Their second album The Great American Eagle Tragedy is maybe a bit weaker, but holds a real class title track, that should appeal to most progheads.

Not commercially successful, the group folded, and the two leaders headed for California and joined Bluegrass group Muleskinner (offshoot of The Byrds) and Old and In The Way (with Jerry Garcia, this will lead in Grisman playing on the Dead's American Beauty album). Later Rowan will form Sea Train (later Seatrain), which is of some interest for progheads. Then he joined his brothers in The Rowen Brothers.

Armed with a bizarre mock-Hindu gatefold artwork, Earth Opera's eponymous debut album is a typical US folk rock album of the time, but can't hold back the odd country flavour sprinkled here and there. Lead by guitarist and main songwriter Rowen and mandolin player David Grisman (both also play sax and sing, with the latter also playing KB), the group also has Bill Stevenson on vibraphone and keyboards, giving them a distinctive slight edge in terms of sound, even delving ever so slightly a bit in jazz realm. Rounding up the group is bassist Naggy (sometimes on the cello) and drummer Dillon who adds vocals and percussion.

Right from the leading track, Red Sox Are Winning, Earth Opera show their Boston (baseball) roots with the vibraphone providing a fun edge. But the fun is quickly over as they plunge into a 7-min+ As It Is Before, with a plaintive moaning tone taking on a dramatic twist around the end of the track; surely one of the album's highlight. The following two tracks are hesitating between different types of boosted (rocked) up folk styles, none of which are really standing out, then followed Home Of The Brave a track is grave and dramatic war track (not related to baseball or Atlanta), which finishes rather strongly and can be pointed as another highlight.

Assuming we are now on the vinyl flipside, The Child Bride is again a rather sombre track and resonates with foregone traditions. Shut The Door and Time & Again are both less interesting (wouldn't call them fillers, especially the later with its fuzzed-up guitar solos), before the weakest Full of Wonder overstays its welcome. But the album closes very strongly on the album's best moment, the superb but eerie and dreary Death By Fire, dealing with an adulteress woman, dealt away by a gay pastor.

Although a quite impressive folk rock album as such, I wouldn't dare dreaming exaggerating its importance (it didn't chart on the US billboard) and wouldn't call influential or even less essential, but it remains a good (even strong) album, borderline folk baroque and acid folk with grave Vietnam-era lyrics. Definitely worth a listen anyway.