Monday, December 17, 2018


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WOW--Moby Grape
Their first album, Moby Grape, is on generally considered one of the best albums done by a Sixties American band, and with good reason, but I've got a soft spot for their sophomore effort, the much-maligned Wow. It certainly deserved some of the critical slamming it received when it was released in 1968, as the band and producer had a batch of solid songs they wanted to gussy up, festoon and otherwise make "psychedelic" in the trend of over-produced pop wrought by Pet Sounds and Sgt.Pepper. Large parts are made literally unlistenable--at the time of release, the band killed the "newstolgia" fad of the period that not only had one song written and performed in the 20's style but which also required the poor stoner to get up and change the album speed from 33 and 1/3 to 78 rpm. The results were not amusing. Some songs come out unscathed, though, as with "Motorcycle Irene", "Murder in My Heart for the "Judge", "Can't Be So Bad". At heart a good band, potentially a great one, that was ruined by the scourge of drugs, pride,  ego, and mental illness. They brimmed with creativity, but the band was unsustainable, What they had, briefly, was terrific talent. Jerry Miller was one of the best blues guitarist of the period, bittersweet and fluid in ways Mike Bloomfield never quite realized, Bob Mosely was a natural blues belter, and Skip Spence was an American Syd Barrett, fried before his time. I’m burning a disc of the best tracks and jettisoning the artsy remainders which are unsustainable and hopelessly junked up with effects.

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