Monday, 29 August 2011

Geronimo Black - Geronimo Black [1972]

Inventive Stuff

This is a brilliant, eclectic and innovative album, the only release from this amalgam of Mothers Of Invention alumni Jimmy Carl Black, Buzz Gardner, brother Bunk Gardner and Denny Walley, and a range of other musicians playing a full spread of instruments to create a mini orchestra to support full and intricate arrangements a la Blood Sweat & Tears and MOI themselves [there was a revamped, altered line-up for a 1980 release which included some reworkings of songs from this original].

Opener Low Ridin' Man is a raw rock stomper though, with Jim Dandy vocals and driving sax sounding like Audience. The eclecticism is established by the next track, Siesta, which is a beautiful flute-driven classical piece that sounds like BS&T's Variations on a Theme by Erik Satie [so it sounds like Satie!] - the flute playing is elegant and the light orchestration lush from this superb line-up: Bunk and Buzz Gardner - Piano, Trumpet, Bassoon, Flute (Alto), Sax (Tenor); Andy Cahan - Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals; Tjay Contrelli [from Love] - Flute, Sax (Baritone), Sax (Tenor); Scott Page - Oboe; Denny Walley - Guitar, Vocals; Tom Leavey - Bass, Vocals; Jimmy Carl Black - Drums, Vocals; Samuel Cytron - Violin; Philip Goldberg - Viola; Nathan Gershman - Cello; Arno Nuefeld - Violin; Keith Olsen - Vocals; Murray Roman - Vocals

Third track Other Man is straight rock in Guess Who vein, and fourth LA County Jail '59 C/S is a  slow blues, with soulful vocal and rising horns as the song climbs into its trudging climax of dissonant violins. The fifth Let Us Live is another straight rock number, but with an inkling of Zappaesque inner orchestrations and then wild saxophone and whirling violin. A harpsichord [synthesised?] darts inside the melody too and this instrument will feature later on.

Sixth track Bullwhip is a full-on funk number, great horn rolls running in and out until ending on a full-blown horn and oboe onslaught. The oboe features in seventh track Quaker's Earthquake with the harpsichord and other deft playing in this baroque instrumental. Eighth Gone is a sweet little pop tune with west coast harmonies.

Penultimate song An America National Anthem returns to the gravelly vocal of the opener and growls emotively on Native American reservation life. Closer '59 Chevy is another straight rocker, the relatively weakest of the whole album , but that's because it should have been about the much superior '57 model.

It is strange how an album with this calibre of music, and the pedigree of the musicianship, isn't heralded as a classic with others from this ripe period of musical experimentation and simple rock excellence.

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