Friday, October 26, 2012

The Apple Pie Motherhood Band - The Apple Pie Motherhood Band (1968 us, groovy bosstown psychedelia with baroque touches, produced by Felix Papalardi)



The Apple Pie Motherhood Band were a Boston-based aggregate combining a formative heavy blues base with equally earthy elements of psychedelia. With Atlantic Records staff producer Felix Pappalardi behind the console, the results were a reflection of the ever-changing pop/rock soundscape. 

Although the band' s lineup would remain in a constant state of flux, the ensemble credited here includes Dick Barnaby (bass), Jack Bruno (drums), Joe Castagno (guitar), Ted Demos (guitar), and Jeff Labes (organ/piano). Although Anne Tanzey, their original "chick" (a la Janis Joplin) singer had already split by the time they were recording this -- their self-titled debut album -- Marilyn Lundquist (vocal) was temporarily filling the vocalist's void. 

Her dulcet tones grace several songs -- particularly notable is the Baroque-flavored update of David Blue's "I'd Like to Know" and the trippy "Ice," which Lundquist co-wrote alongside Demos. The thoroughly explored reading of Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign" is an obvious homage to British supergroup trio Cream who had previously reworked it into a blues-fused jam. Listeners can even catch Barnaby's note-for-note recitation of Jack Bruce's foreboding bassline during the waning moments of the fade. Labes' "Yesterday's New Song" is a minor-chord masterwork. 

The gentle and understated melody perfectly supports some of the Apple Pie Motherhood Band's best vocal harmonies -- recalling the Association or Spanky & Our Gang at their affective best. Barnaby contributes the catchy and concise "Barnaby's Madness," and while the psych-meets-punk vibe is an earmark of the unit's Bosstown Sound roots, to a certain degree, the best of the band can be heard on the seven-plus minute slice of psych medley that links the group-penned instrumental "The Ultimate" to a blue-eyed soulful interpretation of Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon's "Contact." 

The number was a return to the Apple Pie Motherhood Band's prototype C.C. & the Chasers -- whose single "Put the Clock Back on the Wall" b/w "Two & Twenty" were both from the Bonner/Gordon songbook. Labes' quirky "The Way It Feels" may well have been inspired by Sopwith Camel's vintage sounding "Hello, Hello," while his upbeat "Apple Pie" is layered in sweet, harmony-laden sunshine pop. 

Labes likewise penned the closer "Variations on a Fingernail" that propels forward with tricky rhythmic syncopation reminiscent of early Mothers of Invention melodies such as "Mother People" and "Oh No." The Apple Pie Motherhood Band would continue with a revolving door personnel for another year and release their swan song Apple Pie (1970) shortly before breaking up at the dawn of the following decade. 
by Lindsay Planer
Tracks
1. Born Under A Bad Sign (B. T. Jones, W. Bell) - 7:05
2. I'd Like To Know (D. Blue, A. Ranga) - 2:15
3. Ice (T. Demos, M. Lundquist) - 2:31
4. Yesterday's New Song (J. Labes) - 3:14
5. Barnaby's Madness (R. Barnaby) - 2:45
6. The Ultimate / Contact (D. Barnaby, J. Bruno, J. Castagno, Al Gordon, G. Bonner) - 7:10
7. The Way It Feels (J. Labes) - 2:27
8. Bread And Jam (D. Barnaby, J. Bruno, J. Castagno, T. Demos, J. Labes) - 3:14
9. Apple Pie (J. Labes) - 2:55
10.Variations On A Fingernail (J. Labes) - 3:15

The Apple Pie Motherhood Band
*Jeff Labes - Organ, Piano
*Ted Demos - Lead guitar
*Joe Castagno - Rhythm guitar
*Jackie Bruno - Drums
*Richard Barnaby - Bass

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Country Joe And The Fish - I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die (1967 us, classic west coast protest acid folk psych)



The Fish's second album is quite similar to their first in its organ-heavy psychedelia with Eastern-influenced melodic lines, but markedly inferior to the debut, and much more of a period piece. There's more spaciness and less comic energy here, and while the bandmembers were undoubtedly serious in their explorations, some of these songs are simply silly in their cosmic naivete. 

To be crueler, there is no other album that exemplifies so strongly the kind of San Francisco psychedelia that Frank Zappa skewered on his classic We're Only in It for the Money. The weeping, minor-key melodies, liquid guitar lines, and earnestly self-absorbed quests to explore the inner psyche -- it's almost as if they put themselves up as a dartboard for the Mothers to savage.

For all that, the best songs are good; "Who Am I" and "Thursday" are touching psychedelic ballads. But more notably, the title cut -- whose brash energy is atypical of the album -- was a classic antiwar satire that became one of the decade's most famous protest songs, and the group's most famous track. 
by Richie Unterberger
Tracks
1. The Fish Cheer / I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag (McDonald) - 3:44
2. Who Am I (McDonald) - 4:05
3. Pat's Song (McDonald) - 5:26
4. Rock Coast Blues (McDonald) - 3:57
5. Magoo (McDonald) - 4:44
6. Janis (McDonald) - 2:36
7. Thought Dream (McDonald) - 6:39
8. Thursday (Cohen, Hirsh) - 3:20
9. Eastern Jam (Bartol, Cohen, Hirsh, Melton) - 4:27
10.Colors For Susan (McDonald) - 5:58

Country Joe And The Fish
*Country Joe McDonald - Vocals, Guitar, Bells, Tambourine
*Barry Melton - Vocals, Guitar
*David Cohen - Guitar, Organ
*Bruce Barthol - Bass, Harmonica
*Gary "Chicken" Hirsh - Drums

1967  Electric Music For The Mind And Body
1968  Together
1969  Live! Fillmore West
1969  Here We Are Again
1970  CJ Fish

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