Wednesday, October 24, 2018

3PM - 1980 - Better Late Than Never

Better Late Than Never

01. Banana Daquin'
02. Knuf
03. Blues Epilog
04. One Step Ahead
05. A River Of Ears
06. Better Late Than Never

Bass, Synthesizer – Jerry Peek
Drum, Percussion – Doug Morgan
Guitar – John Wheliss
Guitar, Synthesizer – Bernie Petteway

Never heard of this Raleigh based fusion group?  Don't feel bad, not many have but this little gem from the early 80's is excellent.  There's some influence from Allan Holdsworth and Frank Zappa, which is rarely a bad thing. and two of their guys (Jerry and Doug) went on to form the first incarnation of the Steve Morse Band

The music is an eclectic mix of fusion, funk, prog and hard rock, and I gotta say, this caught me off guard. This is some damn good stuff, how come I've never heard of these guys before? The album starts off with "Banana Daquiri" a good solid song and a nice album opener that more or less showcases all of what they have in store. There's some heavy dual lead guitars, funky basslines and drumming, but it isn't quite as heavy as some of the other tracks and a bit cheesy in places. "Knuff" follows, a decent track but nothing too special. It has that early 80's cheesy jazz-fusion vibe which I normally enjoy, but here it just seems out of place and not really these guys' strong suit. It's passable, and not terrible or even bad by any means, but it's far from the best track here.

And now we get to "Blues Epilog", a fuckin' monster of an almost 7 minute track that's heavy as hell with near insanity levels of awesome dual guitar work, heavy funky basslines, and fantastic complex drum work. A five star song, no doubt. Starting side B is "One Step Ahead" which is... well, bad. After about 2 minutes of it I picked up the needle and manually moved it to the next song. It's lame, incredibly cheesy, and feels like it belongs on a cruise ship deck and certainly not on this album. The only good thing about it is it's the shortest track here.

"A River of Ears" on the other hand, is another of my favorites from this album. It's just as good as "Blues Epilog" for all the same reasons. Heavy guitars, fantastic playing all around, and more prog elements this time and varied instruments. Another 5 star track. Finishing off the album, "Better Late Than Never" is another great track. While not as good as "Blues Epilog" or "A River of Ears", it's still a fantastic track with probably the most prog elements of any song on the album, it's just not QUITE as heavy and in-your-face as some of the songs here. Still very good, and a great album closer.

Sadly overlooked, if you ever find a copy of this definitely buy it. 

Sugarloaf - 1973 - I Got A Song

I Got A Song

01. I Got A Song 5:10
02. Myra, Myra 5:12
03. Lay Me Down 6:45
04. Wild Child 4:03
05. Lookin' For Some Fun 4:11
06. Round And Round 3:33
07. We Could Fly So High 3:32
08. Easy Evil 3:59
09. Colorado Jones 3:30
10. I Got A Song (Reprise) 2:43

Bass – Bob "Ray Danger" Raymond
Drums – Larry Ferris
Guitar – Bob Webber
Vocals, Organ, Piano, Clavinet – Jerry Corbetta

Decent, solid but pretty standard early 70's mainstream AOR with a strong Prog flavor (..lots of Hammond Organ). Best stuff is on side one...especially "Myra Myra" which is a first class Pop/Prog semi-instrumental.

I was originally looking for the original issue of the 1973 "I Got a Song" Lp, but ultimately the 1975 "Don't Call Us, We'll Call You" (Van Halen used to cover this track in their early days!) issue I found instead is better value as the title track here is much stronger than the track "Easy Evil" on the earlier issue that was sacrificed to make room for it. and then I found and posted the CD version that has both Enjoy!

Sugarloaf - 1971 - Spaceship Earth

Spaceship Earth

01. Spaceship Earth (4:27)
02. Hot Water (4:10)
03. Rusty Cloud (3:01)
04. I Don't Need You Baby (5:11)
05. Rollin' Hills (3:36)
06. Mother Nature's Wine (2:58)
07. Country Dawg (2:36)
08. Woman (4:19)
09. Music Box (2:28)
10. Tongue in Cheek (7:39)

Jerry Corbetta / Vocals
Rob Webber / Guitars
Bob Raymond / Bass
Bob Yeazel / Guitars
Bob MacVitte / Drums

We all know this Denver-based band for the 1970 hit "Green-Eyed Lady", which you can find the full version on their 1970 debut. Shortly after their debut the group brought in Bobby Yeazel, which helped the band focus entirely on originals this time (the debut had some originals, but a bunch of covers too). Also the songs are shorter. I actually find this album better than their debut, because they went for tighter compositions and not so much stuff that meanders. This album is really all over the place musically, but surprisingly well focused for a band pulling something like that off. The title track is a great prog number, while "Hot Water" is a heavy number, with some great organ playing. "Rusty Cloud" has a bit of a Southern Rock feel. "Rollin' Hills" is no doubt the work of an American band, with that folk/country/blues feel. "Mother Nature's Wine" was an attempt at another "Green Eyed Lady", complete with that same Hammond organ playing and clavinet, but as you know, it was never a hit. "Woman" features some great vocal harmonies. "Music Box" is basically a song about a person in love with the music box dancer, and the music imitates a music box, with the celeste, and the way the music slows down at the end like the music box slowing down after it was wound up. "Tongue in Cheek" is a rather heavy number. To me I found the album rather enjoyable, but for many progheads, I have to warn you: not everything here is prog, and the music is often very American, the vocals sound very American, because they were American (unlike, say Cathedral with Stained Glass Stories who went out of their way to sound like a British band, same for Starcastle or Fireballet). But I was surprised to enjoy the album as much as I do given the diverse styles explored here. Certainly the album didn't spawn a hit like "Green-Eyed Lady", but that didn't matter to me as this was quite good.

Sugarloaf - 1970 - Sugarloaf


01. Green-Eyed Lady (6:49)
02. The Train Kept-a-Rollin' (Stroll On) (1:23)
03. Medley: Bach Doors Man / Chest Fever (9:00)
04. West of Tomorrow (5:25)
05. Gold and the Blues (7:15)
06. Things Gonna Change Some (6:38)

Jerry Corbetta / Vocals
Rob Webber / Guitars
Bob Raymond / Bass
Veeder Von Dorn III / Guitars
Bob MacVitte / Drums

SUGARLOAF are from Colorado in the USA and are pretty much known as a one-hit-wonder because of the opening track "Green-Eyed Lady". This is their debut from 1970 and it's very much hit and miss for me and mostly the latter. I give it 3 stars though because of that opening song which has been a favourite of mine as long as I can remember. And really there's nothing on this album that sounds even close to "Green-Eyed Lady", it's like we get a different band for the rest of the album.
"Green-Eyed Lady" is an absolutely incredible track where i'm blown away by the drumming and bass work. Ditto for the organ play of band leader Jerry Corbetta who is also the singer. Such a proggy track and it has special meaning since i've been hanging out with a beautiful green-eyed lady for many years. Nice organ solo before 3 1/2 minutes then the guitar comes to the fore tastefully. It's awesome to have the almost 7 minute album version of this track because I never want it to end. "The Train Kept-A-Rollin" is a short instrumental cover of THE YARDBIRDS track. Yeah it's okay. "Medley : Bach Doors Man / Chest Fever" opens with an organ solo of that Bach tune reminding me of ELP before blending into another instrumental cover of THE BAND's "Chest Fever". Again this is all okay but does little for me.

"West Of Tomorrow" is a return of the vocals for the first time since the opening song. The organ is again prominant including a solo. It's a little dated but not bad. "Gold And The Blues" is pure blues with the organ, drums and guitar standing out. It's an instrumental and pretty good if your into the blues. I especially like the guitar. "Things Gonna Change Some" is my second favourite track. It's a vocal tune that has some tempo changes. A feel good song for me. I like the instrumental section in the middle where the guitar comes to the fore.

A good album I suppose but yeah one-hit-wonders is a deserved title for this band unfortunately.