|All Artists: Moby Grape|
Title: Moby Grape Live
Members Wishing: 8
Total Copies: 0
Label: Sundazed Music
Original Release Date: 1/1/2010
Re-Release Date: 4/20/2010
Genres: Pop, Rock
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
Moby Grape Live
Genres: Pop, Rock
The first official collection of concert recordings by the legendary San Francisco band at its blazing late-Sixties peak! Sundazed Music is proud to present a genuine psychedelic landmark: Live by Moby Grape, the first of... more »
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The first official collection of concert recordings by the legendary San Francisco band at its blazing late-Sixties peak! Sundazed Music is proud to present a genuine psychedelic landmark: Live by Moby Grape, the first official collection of concert recordings by the legendary San Francisco band at its blazing late-Sixties peak. At that time, in rock's hippest city, there was no other band like the original Grape: Jerry Miller, Skip Spence, Bob Mosley, Peter Lewis and Don Stevenson. Their Columbia debut LP, Moby Grape, issued in June 1967, is still acclaimed as one of the greatest rock albums ever--a thrilling union of blues, soul, country, surf twang and day-glo garage rock, packed into original killer-pop songwriting. Even as extreme Columbia hype, devastating business hassles and Spence's tragic mental collapse threatened to blow up the band, the Grape continued to make immortal albums, including 1968's Wow and the magnificent Moby Grape '69. But the records told only half of the tale. Moby Grape, in their prime, were also one of the Bay Area's--and America's--best stage bands, like the Beatles and Rolling Stones in one, with a breathtaking triple-guitar attack and stunning vocal harmonies. Live is the long-awaited proof. It features more than an hour of dynamite performances from soundboard and broadcast tapes, including tracks from the Avalon Ballroom in 1967 and the band's complete long-lost set at the Monterey Pop Festival, just a week after Moby Grape came out. There are live versions of the great rare Grape songs "Rounder" and "Looper" and five tracks from a famous Dutch radio show featuring the hard-charging '69 lineup of Miller, Mosley, Lewis and Stevenson. And Live climaxes with the historic first-ever release of Spence's acid-guitar masterpiece "Dark Magic"--never recorded in the studio by the original band but presented here in an epic 17-minute performance at the Avalon, on New Year's Eve 1966. Moby Grape were the hottest band in town that night, with the whole rock & roll world ahead of them. And they sound like it. These four-decade-old recordings have been spectacularly mastered, in you-are-there fidelity, and this album comes with sumptuous packaging and rare photos, in true Sundazed style, plus liner notes by Rolling Stone writer and Moby Grape authority David Fricke. Live presents, at last, the untold part of Moby Grape's incredible story. It is San Francisco psychedelia at its zenith and the best historical rock release of the year.
A GOOD OVERVIEW OF MOBY GRAPE ON STAGE
Stuart Jefferson | San Diego,Ca | 04/20/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"73 minutes in length approximately. The mostly mono sound is good,considering the various recording sources,and the age of the tapes,but don't expect crisp,clean sound. "Dark Magic" is not up to the fidelity standards of the other (sometimes muddy) tracks,sounding a bit distant,but it's certainly worthy of inclusion. This release is for those who value the music over sound quality. The cardboard foldout booklet is up to the usual standards of Sundazed Records,with photos and information on the band and recordings. Sundazed has gone the extra distance with heavily embossed lettering on the cover-a nice touch. The disc is snapped in,inside the cardboard holder.
By now most listeners of 60's rock music are familiar with the band's first (and best) album,or have at least heard of MOBY GRAPE. Their first album is legendary,and their other original albums all contain some fine music. While the group came out of the psychedelic era (forming in 1966),their blend of rootsy,basic rock/blues/country/and folk music stood out from other bands of the time. And the promise found in their studio albums can be heard on this live release. But it took until now for most listeners to hear,at length,what the band was capable of on stage.
This release has several good examples of the take-no-prisoners,triple-guitar sound of Alexander "Skip" Spence,Peter Lewis,and Jerry Miller,and the group's (including Don Stevenson and Bob Mosley) soulful singing style,both individually and collectively. Like their studio albums,this set focuses on the band's concise songwriting and powerful guitar sound. It's interesting that the group's vocal approach is mirrored in their guitar sound. The vocals were built on,and woven in and around each other,as were the guitars,which produced their trademark sharp yet dense sound. Only occasionally would a band member step forward for a solo,vocally or instrumentally. This approach produced the band's trademark,seemingly barely containable,sound. For a good example of the band's visceral,early sound,the tracks from The Monterey Pop Festival (recorded close to the same time as the first album release),heard by only a small crowd that day,shows how tight the band was from it's early beginnings. The combination of soulful group/individual vocals,and their tight,and at times,fiery guitar playing was pretty spectacular. Tracks like "Indifference","Omaha",and "Mr. Blue",from their first album generate a lot of excitement,and are good examples of the band's early live style. All the band members could write,sing,and really play-and this combination set the group apart from others of the era. A bonus are the live recordings of "Looper" and "Rounder"- the different live version of "Rounder",on the album "Truly Fine Citizen" is from 1968,a year later. The B.B. King tune,"Sweet Black Angel",is the group's nod to the blues (and the album's only song not written by the band),and is a good mix of the MOBY GRAPE sound and the blues.
One thing many listeners not lucky enough (like me) to have heard the group live,don't know,is that on many (not all) occasions the band would really stretch out on a song with some electrifying,sometimes fierce playing. Skip Spence (who was the drummer on the JEFFERSON AIRPLANE album "Takes Off") was usually the spark that ignited these jams,and his "Dark Magic" (an early crowd favorite) is representative of the band's psychedelic instrumental prowess,with the lyrics representative of the (1966) era. The ebb and flow of the music is also straight out of the late 60's,and it's easy to see why this was a favorite of ballroom crowds for their dancing/tripping delight. Oftentimes this tune was extended even longer than the rendition heard here,and the crowd went wild over the group's combination of instrumental firepower and flowing,laid back groove. A true psychedelic artifact from the era.
After Spence's departure from the band (due to drug/mental illness problems) the remaining members carried on,and while the band would never be the same again,the tracks from Danish radio ("Murder In My Heart for the Judge","Omaha","Fall On You" as examples) prove that the group could still produce good music with that MOBY GRAPE sound and feel. Having been lucky enough to have heard both the original band and as a four-piece,this album is a good example of what they did best-playing a synthesis of styles,all with the band's tight vocals and stunning playing.
It's a shame the band was dogged by bad management (which still haunts them today) from the beginning,a stupid decision by Columbia Records to release five tracks from the first album as singles-simultaneously,an ill-fated release party/gig,and certain band members being caught with underage girls-all in a short span of time. Combined with Spence's problems (which caused him to leave the band),the group would never be the same. The magic of that first album would never be repeated,except in a few instances on their other albums. But through it all the band was,and still is,one of the best groups to come out of the 60's era. And this live album goes a long way in proving that point. Hopefully the legal problems concerning the re-release of their albums (particularly the first) will be resolved. But in the meantime we have this great live album,which shows what MOBY GRAPE was all about-great rock'n'roll."
Live Grape is better than no Grape
Christopher Abbot | Oak Bluffs, MA | 04/23/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The Grape was one of those bands whose chemistry was a rare and wonderful thing, but one which was also incredibly fragile. While Skip Spence was an integral part of the first Columbia LP, these live sessions--made within weeks of the record's release--show just how inconsistent his artistry was. His singing in the lovely "Someday" is muted and off-key; the song is rescued from disaster by the harmony singing of Peter Lewis and Bob Mosley. The highly-praised three-guitar attack is often reduced here to Miller's sparkling and intelligent leads, with occasionally audible contributions from Lewis and Spence.
The star of these sessions is Bob Mosley. While his singing could sound overly-sonorous and even pompous on record, in these live tapes there is a surprising amount of nuance and sensitivity. He takes the lead on Spence's "Omaha" in the Dutch radio version from 1969, and you don't miss Spence's vocal; this extended version (6 minutes' worth) is a highlight of the CD. The rest of the Dutch session proves just how viable the band was without Spence.
One other important consideration is the mono sound--I wasn't aware until I bought the CD that only the first session from the Avalon in 1967 was recorded in stereo. The 1969 tapes are fine, professionally recorded by Dutch radio--stereo radio was practically unknown at the time, so this is how the broadcast would have sounded.
Unfortunately, the last cut is the worst: "Dark Magic" is described by annotator David Fricke, who should know better, as an "acid-guitar masterpiece." The "acid" part is the key: if listening while high, the song might have some mystical coherence; for the rest of us, it's over 17 minutes of guitar noodling, feedback and incomprehensible "lyrics" that apparently resulted from a jam that the newly-formed band concocted. The Grape on record was not known for its extended songs--in fact, that was one of the refreshing things about them; but Fricke claims that the Grape were "more advanced and coherent in their improvising" than either the Dead (whom this song most resembles--"Dark Star" perhaps?) and Quicksilver. I suppose it's just possible that, in 1966, the Dead and Quicksilver were less accomplished than they were by the next year, but I doubt it. Quicksilver especially had much more discipline and invention in the persons of Gary Duncan and John Cipollina than the Grape's three guitarists could manage.
For Grape lovers, the disc will be self-recommending. Until such time as the idiot Katz is forced to relinquish the rights to the 1st LP and Wow!, this and various compilations are the best we can hope for. Sundazed has done us all a big favor."
San Fran band in the perfect setting, LIVE
Kevin D. Rathert | Carbondale, IL | 04/24/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First off, let me say I am a huge Moby Grape fan, but I was leery of a cd full of previously unreleased, at least legitimately, material. However, just minutes into the cd I was reminded just great these guys were live, and how unfortunately the promise of their first, classic, lp was nullified by the ensuing mayhem well documented elsewhere. However, what we have here, thanks to the meticulous mastering job by Bob Irwin at Sundazed Records. The source tapes are not of ideal quality, but is consistently better than any live Grape previously available on bootleg. On the menu here are pieces from 5 separate Grape live recordings, 1 in 1966 (the stunning 17 minute closer "Dark Magic" which shows the newly formed band jamming a la Quicksilver Messenger Service. The bands 1967 appearance at the Monterey Pop Fest is found here featuring 4 songs from the then recently released self-titled debut album, all performed effortlessly as the triple guitar attack of the band is in tune, while the bottom end is held down effortlessly yet quite effectively by bassist Bob Mosley and drummer Don Stevenson. Two versions of the band's classic Skip Spence tune "Omaha" are included. The band's cover of B. B. King's "Sweet Little Angel" shows the group's versatility as they deliciously unveil the blues band within the rock band within the psych band within....The word that keeps coming to mind throughout the discs 74 minute run time is "effortless." No three guitar players should be able to play so seamlessly, never play over each other, and always be willing to sit back and let a mate take the break. The tragic train wreck which was the Grape's career is certainly not discernible on "Live." Yes, the source tapes may not always be ideal, but the stereo recordings from the Avalon Ballroom in 1967 are of exceptional quality and none of the tracks are undeserving. Are there more Grape live recordings of sufficient quality and available at an honest price for further Sundazed Grape live releases? Only the remaining band members and Bob Irwin would be able to answer that question, but I for one give Irwin and his Sundazed label 5 full stars for finally getting the band at its best released legitimately. Moby Grape was original. Three guitarist, five songwriting vocalists and the world at its feet for a moment in 1967. "Live" goes a long way in explaining why the band was so coveted and did manage to release one nearly perfect studio album before self destructing. If you're a fan of the Grape, 60s psych, San Fran sound, or just plain good singing, songwriting, and playing then this cd is a must. If not, what's wrong with you? Since the debut album is in and out of print on a moment's notice due to legalities, the ideal taking off point is the long deleted in the US but still in print abroad double-disc set "Vintage" which contains all 13 tracks from the debut album and a great overview of the band's 5 lp run at Columbia. Then snag a copy of "Live" and you'll be wondering why you haven't been listening to these guys for year."