Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man: The Bob Seger System

Rating: 90%

Ramblin'_Gamblin'_ManSo, I picked this album up for $3.00 and the vinyl was in great condition. As a younger person who was looking for content as a guitarist, this album did inspire me. I used to play the tape all the time as I learned to master several of the songs on here. It isn’t the Bob Seger that many people think. So take “Turn the Page” and “Beautiful Looser” and forget about that sound as this album has neither styles on it.

The year was 1969 and Detroit was rocking. Bob Seger and his band released their debut album “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man.” This album featured songs that are a melting pot of sorts. Seeing what worked and what didn’t work. It’s got Folk, it’s got Hard Rock, and it’s got Blues and yes, elements of Garage Rock which is a formation of Punk. It’s Psychedelic elements are very attractive. It’s got groove and funk as well as a dash of country. There’s a few atmospheric moments too!

The musicianship is very good. Bob Seger sounds out standing as a lead vocalist and guitarist. Don Honaker throws out some very groovy bass lines. Pep Perrine keeps the tempo and beats on the drums. The music structure features many mid paced tempos. Many of the songs are short coming in under three minutes. Musically, it’s a good collection of heavier style of music and it contains those elements of the softer sounds. Great riffs too. It’s a bit raw at times. 

Track listing:

1. “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” 2:21
2. “Tales of Lucy Blue” 2:28
3. “Ivory” 2:23
4. “Gone” 3:28
5. “Down Home” 3:01
6. “Train Man” 4:06
7. “White Wall” 5:20
8. “Black Eyed Girl” 6:33
9. “2 + 2 = ?” 2:49
10. “Doctor Fine” 1:05
11. “The Last Song (Love Needs to Be Loved)” 3:04

Dead Forever: Buffalo

Rating: 85%

AlbumCoverDeadForever.jpgIn 1972, Australian band Buffalo released their debut record “Dead Forever.” Not a well known band, but an good band for the time.  Buffalo was made up drummer Paul Balbi, bassist Peter Wells, guitarist John Baxter, vocalists Dave Tice & Alan Milano. Although Milano would leave the band after this release.

Many people described this record as being a hyper clone to that of “Vol. 4” by Black Sabbath. Please do NOT look at these guys as a record company’s way to sign bands that sound like what’s popular. Buffalo is something totally different than what was mainstream then.

Buffalo’s sound can be described as progressive, hard, heavy, bluesy, and psychedelic. They bring together these influences to create their own sound and style. The end result is a tasty series of songs that are easy to swallow. There are some great melodies on this album. The melodies seem to fluctuate between faster and more upbeat tempos to more heavier and slower tempos. Many of the songs seem to start off slow and increase with heaviness. The song structures are well put together. “Forest Rain” is a ballad that is very rough and raw. The production seems to be really clear.

The musicianship is pretty good as well as the instrumentation. Balbi’s drumming really sets the pace for the flow of the music. Well’s bass guitar is phenomenal. His bass lines are very complex and his scales are setting the tone for Baxter’s guitar. Baxter’s guitar work is amazing. He throws out a nice blend of heavily distorted guitar tones which are gritty and deep. The riffs he produces are top notch. It’s a shame that more haven’t heard of his name. Baxter can hold his ground and shred on the guitar just as good as Ritchie Blackmore, Pete Townsend, Tony Iommi or Jimmy Page. “I’m a Mover” is a great song which is covered by the band and Baxter’s leads are fantastic. The vocals are pretty good too. The shared position at the mic reminds me of two people competing for the same job.

The only reason I gave this record a lower rating than what it deserves, is because of the fact that there are a lot of covers on here. But other than that, this album is a great record to jam to and is enjoyable to listen to. If you’re into early Heavy Music, this is one album I would highly suggest. Note, the first eight songs were part of the original album. Tracks 9-13 were released in 2006 and are more or less demos and covers.

Track Listing 2006 edition:

Leader  – 6:07
Suzie Sunshine  – 3:00
Pay My Dues  – 5:36
I’m a Mover – 10:57
Ballad of Irving Fink  – 4:37
Bean Stew – 7:11
Forest Rain – 6:28
Dead Forever  – 5:32
Hobo  – 2:46
Sad Song, Then – 2:37
No Particular Place to Go – 4:53
Just a Little Rock and Roll – 2:24
Barbershop Rock – 3:24

Captain Beyond

Rating: 90%

captain_beyondIn 1972, vocalist Rod Evans, guitarist Larry Reinhardt, bassist Lee Dorman and drummer Booby Caldwell after forming a super group called Captain Beyond, released their debut record.

This record features an all-star collection of Hard Rock music that is blended with Progressive and Psychedelic influences. The end result of all that blending is this gem. Musically, this record is very good. It’s mystical, it’s magical and it’s mysterious all wrapped up into one record. The Hard Rock sound that is influenced by the Progressive Rock is a what makes this record sound good. The Progressive and Hard Rock influences are both equals and the song structures do not get bogged down with one or another. Then you add the psychedelic sound which compliments the song structures themselves. The record features balanced tempos that are for the most part are even keel, with the exception of the one ballad.

Instrumentation is very good. Musicianship is very tight. You have the formal Deep Purple lead vocalist Rod Evans who for the most part is a great match for the sound of Captain Beyond. He doesn’t really display the higher range vocals here. Then you have the former Iron Butterfly guitarist Rhino Larry Reinhardt and bassist Lee Dorman. Rhino’s style has always been more or less heavy. He kicks out some decent riffs here on this record. His skills as a lead guitarist are amazing. Lee Dorman’s bass work is also pretty decent. Then you have the hard hitting ex-drummer from the Johnny Winter Group, Bobby Caldwell. His drum work is what is really taking this group toward a Progressive Rock with his off beats and tempos.

This is one of those bands that were great in their day, but are now considered forgotten. Their brand of Progressive Hard Rock was good. They were actually ahead of their time with their music. After this record, the group saw many line up changes and then they disappeared.

Track Listing:

Side one
1. “Dancing Madly Backwards (on a Sea of Air)” 4:02
2. “Armworth” 1:48
3. “Myopic Void” 3:31
4. “Mesmerization Eclipse” 3:48
5. “Raging River of Fear” 3:47

Side two
1. “Thousand Days of Yesterdays (Intro)” 1:16
2. “Frozen Over” 3:46
3. “Thousand Days of Yesterdays (Time Since Come and Gone)” 3:57
4. “I Can’t Feel Nothin’ (Part 1)” 3:06
5. “As the Moon Speaks (to the Waves of the Sea)” 1:27
6. “Astral Lady” 0:58
7. “As the Moon Speaks (Return)” 1:57
8. “I Can’t Feel Nothin’ (Part 2)” 1:46

Nickelodeon: The Master’s Apprentices

Rating: 85%

Masters Apprentices - Nickelodeon_enl.jpgIn 1971, Nickelodeon, a live record was released by Australia’s own The Masters Apprentices. I have the CD version of this album that also includes studio bonus tracks. The first seven tracks are recorded live and the remainder of the CD is unreleased material or A/B sides. The band consisted of vocalist Jim Keays, bassist Glen Wheatley, guitarist Doug Ford and drummer Colin Burgess.

The music is outstanding. Several of the tracks begin soft and come in heavy. It can aggressive, distorted and it can be slow and clean. This album for the first seven tracks are part of a live set which sounds pretty damn good. The sound of the music is raw. The song structures seem to be on the longer side, but, that is what makes the music structure good. The guitar work is done well. The leads themselves seem to scream on several sections of the songs. Vocally, the band seems to be a bit out of harmony, but, that is what makes this album great. It’s just the band jamming and nothing more. That’s where the real talent shows through and the Master’s Apprentices knock it out of the park.

Track Listing

01. Future Of Our Nation
02. Evil Woman
03. Because I Love You
04. Light A Fire Within Yourself
05. When I´ve Got Your Soul
06. Fresh Air By The Ton
07. Tears Of Sorrow (Bonus)
08. New Day (Bonus)
09. Jam It Up (Bonus)
10. Freedom Seekers (Bonus)

Salt the Wound: U.S. Christmas

Rating: 85%

usc.jpgIf you’re into psychedelic rock, sludge metal, and folk of the modern day, then U.S. Christmas may be a band worth looking into. I was turned onto the band when I heard the song “Black Snake” which captured my mind. The atmosphere of the music was unbelievable. There was some sort of aggression to the music and yet soothing. It was like listening to Pink Floyd mixed with Hawkwind with some Jefferson Airplane and Neil Young thrown into the mix.

U.S. Christmas is led by the talented vocalist and guitarist Nate Hall. Violinist Meghan Mulhearn, bassist Josh Holt and drummer B.J. Graves make up the rest of the North Carolina band.

Musically, this album is raw, powerful and energetic. The musicianship is very good. This album features excellent guitar riffs and kick ass leads. Several great bass lines and solid drumming round out the album’s sound. Nate’s vocal work is decent.  U.S. Christmas uses a lot of influences and places it all into their blend of music which makes this band very unique. The harmonies are wonderfully established to the point its almost melodic. Melodies and tempos vary and are not drawn out. Production of the album is decent. I would definitely recommend this album to anyone who is into this style of music.

Track listing:

Lazarus 6:27
Death By Horses 4:54
New War 5:24
Devil’s Flower 5:18
Thin The Herd 4:06
Norpo 5:40
Black Snake 7:29
Queen Of The World 4:11
Silent Tongue 12:23
Black Lung 4:45

The Bootlicker: The Melvins

Rating: 70%

Melvins-thebootlickerThe Melvins have been on of those bands that you like or dislike. Their musical style seems to influence many genres such as Grunge, Sludge Metal and Alternative Rock. Also, they have influenced many bands over the years. Their musical style is funky, weird and doomy. It all depends on the album and the time period of the band’s history as to what you’re going to get.

Bootlicker is the second installment of three releases that are referred to as the Trio. “The Maggot” is part one, “The Bootlicker” is part two and “The Crybaby” is part three. They are called this because the three albums were released within one year. The Bootlicker features the one and only King Buzzo Osborne on vocals, guitar and additional noises, Dale Crover on drums and Kevin Rutmanis on bass guitar.

This album is not as heavy as “The Maggot” and has a very strong psychedelic feel to it. Many of the tempos are much slower and not as heavy. There’s no real sludginess to the album and lacks the doomy elements. It has more of a mellow feel that is drenched in early Pink Floyd mixed with a little Primus and some blues. This album does have a nice melody and harmony to it. There’s a lot of additional noises on this album, which in some cases blend in very well, but at other times, seem to be out of place. This album even has some atmospheric influences along with some drawn out outtros, intros and bridges.  There’s even some techno influences on this album. Production isn’t to bad,  but it’s not as good as “The Maggot.”

Vocals are a bit light, almost like a Syd Barrett when he was in the early stages of Pink Floyd. Guitar is wonderfully done. The bass is very good and sounds great. There’s some very good drumming on this record as well. Good musicianship is heard throughout the entire album. Strong points on the album “Let It All Be”, “Black Santa”, “Jew Boy Flower Head” and “Lone Rose Holding Now.”

Bottom line, I love the Melvins and what they have contributed to heavy metal and music in general. There are some very good tracks on this record, but, at the same time, it seems a bit loose and seems to have some fillers that don’t need to be in the final production.

Track listing:

1. “Toy” 1:09
2. “Let It All Be” 10:48
3. “Black Santa” 3:41
4. “We We” 0:57
5. “Up the Dumper” 2:23
6. “Mary Lady Bobby Kins” 3:37
7. “Jew Boy Flower Head” 6:06
8. “Lone Rose Holding Now” 2:23
9. “Prig” 8:47

Wide Open: Kahvas Jute

Rating: 80%

118.jpgIn 1971, “Wide Open” by the Australian band Kahvas Jute was released. The band was made up of  Dennis Wilson on vocals and guitar and Tim Gaze on guitar, Bob Daisley on bass and Dannie Davidson on drums. Although, this was their first and only record, this album does provide the listener to a unique sound that leans toward the blues, prog with a touch of heavy metal. There’s a good bit of Psychedelic influences.

Vocally, is almost like listening to Cream, mixed with very early demo versions of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Musically, the album is good. It has a good flow to it. Song structures are tight. Melody and harmony are strong throughout the entire record. Good collection of faster and mid-paced tempos. The drumming is exceptional throughout the entire record. Bob Daisley, who you may recognize was the bassist for Ozzy, is very talented on this record. The guitar work of both Gaze and Wilson is very good. Their leads and rhythms work so well in and out of the music.

Highlights on this record include “Free” and the more upbeat tempo of “Odyssey.” “She’s So Hard to Shake” is anther song that is more upbeat and the bass lines are absolutely brilliant. The song “Ascend” is another song where it’s medium paced tempo and acoustical work, works well, with a blues like influence and a touch of country music. “Parade of Fools” is an all out jam that is hard, heavy and upbeat. The guitar work is like a barrage hitting you all at once. The bass chords are just as good.

This band had a lot going for them. It’s a shame that there’s only one album to commemorate what these guys did for hard rock and heavy metal.

Track listing:

Free 5:12
Odyssey 4:01
Up There 2:50
She’s So Hard To Shake 4:19
Vikings 4:32
Steps Of Time 3:20
23 4:32
Ascend 3:10
Parade Of Fools 9:06