Thursday, 20 April 2017

"Nantucket Sleighride" by MOUNTAIN (2003 Columbia/Legacy 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

This Review Along With Hundreds of Others Is Available In My
SOUNDS GOOD E-Book on all Amazon sites
CLASSIC 1970s ROCK and POP - Exceptional CD Remasters  
Just Click Below To Purchase for £3.95
Thousands of E-Pages - All Details and In-Depth Reviews From Discs 
(No Cut and Paste Crap)

"...A Whale Of A Time..."

Mountain's March 1970 LP "Climbing!" had busted the doors down – a gold album and a No. 17 placing on the US charts – not bad for a second platter. The New Yorkers (with Mississippi in their veins) liked it loud, proud and ear-splitten-louden-boomer. Riding a wave surfed by Grand Funk Railroad, The James Gang and bands like Zephyr – Mountain's heads-down no-nonsense hard boogie had captured a zeitgeist – let's ROCK and to hell with the Man and his Government plans. And in the larger than life Leslie 'The Great Fatsby' West – they had an axeman worth getting soppy about.

Taking its name from a Massachusetts whaler's experience (you harpooned the mighty creature – he'd dive – resurface full throttle and take the men and their boat on a Nantucket Sleighride) – the LP's title track also had a dedication to the suitably surnamed Owen Coffin in its subtitle. When a full-grown sperm whale surfaced mid Pacific in November 1820 and wrecked their ship the 'Essex' – the starved, drifting and diminishing crew of a surviving long boat ran out of food and then ran out of dead bodies to eat. So in further desperation they decided to shoot a mariner amongst their remaining ranks and eat him to survive. The unfortunate but brave 19-year old Owen Coffin literally drew the short straw – and refusing his Captain's offer to swap places – gave himself whole up to save the others. Naturally Mountain the band - who had holidayed in Nantucket between tours - thought this was a great idea for a song! Which brings us to this blubbery CD reissue - here are the cannibalistic details...

UK released April 2003 – "Nantucket Sleighride" by MOUNTAIN on Columbia/Legacy 510718 2 (Barcode 5099751071822) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster with One Bonus Track and plays out as follows (42:24 minutes):

1. Don't Look Around [Side 1]
2. Taunta (Sammy's Tune)
3. Nantucket Sleighride (To Owen Coffin)
4. You Can't Get Away
5. Tired Angels (To J.M.H.)
6. The Animal Trainer And The Toad [Side 2]
7. My Lady
8. Travellin' In The Dark (To E.M.P.)
9. The Great Train Robbery
Tracks 1 to 9 are their third studio album "Nantucket Sleighride" – released January 1971 in the USA on Windfall 5500 and May 1971 in the UK on Island Records ILPS 9148. Produced by Bassist and Studio Wizard FELIX PAPPALARDI – the album rose to No. 16 in the US LP charts and No. 43 in the UK (their first charting in Britain).

10. Travellin' In The Dark (To E.M.P.) (Live) – no recording date provided

LESLIE WEST – Guitars and Vocals
FELIX PAPPALARDI – Bass and Vocals
STEVE KNIGHT – Keyboards
CORKY LAING – Drums and Percussion

The 12-page booklet has new liner notes from LESLIE WEST and CORKY LAING (dated November 2002) - and as well as band photos supplied by the group. Their thoughts are witty and informative - the making of their 'loud' 3rd album and how the whole Nantucket area/mythology fitted in with the album’s creation. Laing laughs affectionately at Pappalardi the Producer when his wild drum solo in the title song went against the written page (instead of firing the drummer – Pappalardi thought it rocked). The Roy Bailey pencil drawing of the whale and the Nantucket Sleighride that adorned the inner gatefold is reproduced on Pages 2 and 3 in full while the insert cartoon drawing of the four-piece looking like they’re playing some Tuba adorns Page 9. It’s strange though that Sony didn’t use the Windfall label logo here as they did with the "Climbing!" reissue. But outside of that it looks cool...

But the big news is the new BOB IRWIN/VIC ANESINI Remaster from original tapes done at Sony Music Studios in New York. As the script-written line on the inner cover ‘credits box’ famously announced 'Play This Record At High Volume For Maximum Sonority...Loud!' - you quickly find out that none of the band's players are joking. This mother rocks – vibrato, fuzzy, grunge guitar noises emanate from Leslie West's speaker stacks and threaten to cause a public disturbance with your docile Laura Ashley stereo. The album was never an Audiophile event – but the space of sound on their tribute to the recently fallen Jimi Hendrix "Tired Angels (To J.M.H.)" is suddenly way better than what I've heard before. Having said that – this is a good remaster – rather than a great one and perhaps one day a better format will bring out what seems to be buried deep in the mixes...

Heavy Metal guitars and distant wailing Mellotron-sounding keyboards bring in the Side 1 opener "Don’t Look Around"  – a huge lumbering Rock song that admittedly does sound a tad old fart now after 46 years – West wailing ominously about tanning hides and being me. But you’re then hit with a brill one-two - the short but beautiful Pappalardi instrumental "Taunta (Sammy's Tune)" that then leads into the album's epic six-minute title track "Nantucket Sleighride". Pappalardi co-wrote the song with lyricist and artist Gail Collins and I've always loved West's guitar playing at the opening of "Nantucket Sleighride" and throughout - pulling out those turns on the fretboard that literally engender guitar-hero worship. It's also the most Prog Rock song on the album with its internal sea-shanty moments. I can remember hearing it on the credits of "Weekend World" on British tele - apparently a source of Royalty revenue for the band. Always compromised by being the last song on Side 1 of my battered and used Island ILPS 9148 vinyl LP – its way cool to hear their tribute to Hendrix "Tired Angels (To J.M.H.)" sound so mellow and yet full.

Windfall obviously thought the very Allman Brothers good ole Rock 'n' Roll Boogie of "The Animal And The Toad" might rattle the American airwaves - and they were right. In March 1971 they issued the Side 2 opener with the equally good "Tired Angels (To J.M.H.)" as its B-side and were rewarded with a modest placing at No. 76 for Windfall 533. They followed through with single number two in July 1971 - "Travellin' In The Past (To E.M.P.)" b/w "Silver Paper" (from the "Climbing!" album) - but Windfall 535 failed to chart. I always thought though that the far better "My Lady" would have been a better single choice - maybe gone Top 20 - it's hooky melody catchier that the rather clumsy 'can't see a thing' over-melodrama of "Travellin' In The Dark". Album number three ends on a piece of fabulous slide-guitar - West asking us do we remember "The Great Train Robbery" back in '63. The slightly muffled sound to his guitar is still there (he sounds like Ron Wood of the Faces 1971 masterpiece "A Nod's As Good As A Wink...") - but the song is definitely more powerful now. The live bonus cut of "Travellin' In The Past" is five minutes long (no recording details) and very well recorded considering the amount of riffage going on (fans will love it)...

I don't think "Nantucket Sleighride" is the Hard Rock masterpiece many make it out to be - but its many moments have been a pal to me for more than four and half decades and this CD remaster rocks that whale.

I'm off now to re-listen to "High Roller" from Leslie West's first solo album "The Great Fatsby" in 1975 – the kind of good old Boogie Rock that Mountain epitomised back in those days of magical albums and their expansive gatefold sleeves...

No comments:

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

INDEX - Artists, Albums, Record Labels, CD Remaster Engineers, Liner Notes Authors, Links etc