Saturday, November 26, 2016

Gale Garnett & The Gentle Reign - 1969 - Sausalito Heliport

Gale Garnett & The Gentle Reign
Sausalito Heliport

01. Freddy Mahoney — 6:19
02. Peace Comes Slowly To The Thrashing Fish — 4:07
03. The Pretty Is Gone — 3:36
04. This Year’s Child — 5:26
05. Berkely Barb Want Ad — 3:10
06. Deer In The City — 4:38
07. Water Your Mind — 5:15
08. My Own Mind’s Morning — 3:32
09. The Trip Note Song — 4:38
10. Man In The Middle — 3:27
11. Freely Speaking — 3:30

Gale Garnett – vocals
Bruce Horiuchi — guitar, kazoo
Tony Hill — piano, organ, harpsichord, celeste, guitar
Rob Fisher – bass
Michael Aragon – drums
Paul Robinson – percussion

Before hooking up with the Gentle Reign in the late 60s, Gail Garnett had already been a successful actress and Grammy award winning solo artist, releasing six LPs on RCA between 1964-67. Her last solo album, ‘Gale Garnett Sings About Flying & Rainbows & Love & Other Groovy Things’ (1967), was a head-first dive into the pop-psych genre, which was the direction she would continue to follow after collaborating with the band Gentle Reign between 1968-69.

The Gentle Reign had also been a moderately successful entity in its own right, issuing a self-titled LP on the Vanguard label in early 1968. Members included Michael Aragon (drums, percussion, tabla), Tony Hill (piano, organ, guitar, harpsichord, celesta), Bruce Horiuchi (guitar), Rob Fisher (bass), Paul Robinson (percussion), Dick Rosmini (acoustic guitar) and Bob Ingram (guitar). In 1968, they hooked up with Garnett (vocals, guitar, kazoo) and were signed to Columbia where they released two LPs as Gail Garnett And The Gentle Reign.

The first album issued, ‘An Audience With The King Of Wands’ (1968), makes a strong attempt at psychedelia, but contains several jumbled music styles which unfortunately give it a rather sketchy vibe. Highlights however include the Garnett penned ‘Breaking Through’ and an outstanding cover of Fred Neil’s ‘Dolphins’. In 1969, they released a second LP, ‘Sausalito Heliport’, which contrary to most critics, is actually a more consistent and overall better effort than their previous record. Highlights on this album include ‘My Own Mind’s Morning’, ‘Peace Comes Slowly To The Thrashing Fish’ and ‘This Year’s Child’.

Unfortunately, neither of their LPs sold that well, which prompted the band to split up and Garnett to exit the music business altogether. Garnett resumed her acting career and also became a successful writer.

1969's "Sausalito Heliport" was Gale Garnett's second album for Columbia.  Co-produced by Garnett and Paul Robinson, you'll be hard pressed to recognize this as the same woman who sang 'We'll Sing in the Sunshine'.   Material such as hysterical 'Freddy Mahoney' (which always reminds me of Tracy Ulman), 'Berkeley Barb' and 'Water Your Mind' is quite psych-ish, full of goofy lyrics and sports a distinctive West Coasty musical feel.  Garnett certainly had a nice voice (much deeper than I realized), though her delivery was occasionally a bit on the campy side ('Deer In the City').  She also had an uncanny knack for sounding a bit like a hard rocking Cher - check out the blazing 'Pretty Is Gone'.  It's doubtful anything here will change your life, but the album's probably weird enough to make you smile.  Personal favorites are the previously mentioned 'Water Your Mind' and the janglish 'Freely Speaking'.  (In case anyone cares, the title refers to a musical commune Don McCoy established in the San Francisco area.  Garnett and company were apparently members of the commune.)

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