Elephant Mountain is primo! da kine!
Whamo | San Clemente, California | 07/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I always liked the Youngbloods. They're "Get Together"; "The Wine Song"; and "It's a Lovely Day" are great tunes, found on other albums. But I was lucky enough to catch them live at U.C. Davis, and actually sit on-stage behind the drummer. I was so close I could see the tracks on their arms. But they played a mostly "Elephant Mountain" set. Donovan once predicted, "Electrical banana, bound to be the very next craze...", but it never happened. It should have. This album was one of the best. I like to listen to it before I fall asleep. I liked it back in the day, and I like it today, decades later. It's eclectic music: jazz, rock, and whimsical musings thrown together in a tight, light weave. Buy it!"
William R. Nicholas | Mahwah, NJ USA | 07/25/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"You have to admire Jessie Colin Young. He wrote folk rock music that fit naturally on both AM and FM radio, without pandering to either. He was not just strumming his guitar, but gave his well written songs, that never rested on stock ideas, the careful arrangements they deserve.
Elephant Mountian shows this. All the songs have great melodies, and origonal chord progressions, showing that Young either had musical training or great insticts. Just listen to "Darkness Darkness," or "Beautiful" to hear how he takes folk and comes up with a spin that his uniquely his. You are never going to mistake his work for a Richie Havens song. His craft is top notch.
Young also had jazz notions: these are less sucessfull. The second track here is a Fendor Rhodes romp: nice enough to listen to, but it is primative by early Chicago or even Tim Buckley standards. There was a flawed notion in the late 60s that if you plunked around on an electric panio or with a upright bass for a few minutes, you were playing jazz. A lot of bad filler got onto otherwise good albums during this late 60s experimental euphoria. Still, you have to admire the impulse.
Ironically enough, Young used a lot of jazz on his solo albums, and this works quite well.
But Elephant Mountian is a increadibly enjoyable album with lots of high calabre work. It might not be an out and out masterpiece, but it is definately a 60s corner that should never be lost or overlooked."
"Electrical Banana, Bound to be the very next craze"
Whamo | San Clemente, California | 06/07/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"sang Donovan. It never happened. Musically, it happened, but as far as popularity goes, some categorize the Youngbloods, mistakenly, as one-hit wonders, a result of "Get Together" becoming a hippie anthem.
Make no mistake, the time in rock music history when "Elephant Mountain" was created was incredible. The Beatle's "Sgt. Pepper" pushed experimentation to the outer limits, inspiring Frank Zappa's masterpiece, "We're Only In It For the Money"; "Good Vibrations" by the Beachboy's Brian Wilson; "Satanic Majesties Request" by the Rolling Stones, and last, but not least, and perhaps the best, "Elephant Mountain" by the Youngbloods.
None of the Youngblood's other recordings approach it's level. Why? Banana went wild with a big recording budget -- that's why. Bless his soul for it. Banana, besides exploring sound like an astronaut in the studio, hired the best musicians in town, in the big city, in Los Angeles, where quite a few professional musicians hang their hat. Who did he get? Joe Clayton for the trumpet on "Smug"; tenor sax legend Plas Johnson for the end of "Beautiful"; David Lindley on fiddle (he's currently touring with Jackson Browne) on "Darkness, Darkness" ; and Victor Feldman on vibes for "Ride the Wind" and Banana conducted an 18-man studio ensemble.
The experimentation with sound? Remember, this was the time of Jimi Hendrix "Electric Ladyland" -- and Hendrix raised the stakes with feedback. Banana had a few tricks up his sleeve. Banana took ouput from and EQ unit and put it into another, and then took that output and put it into another, and in Banana's own words: "...made things real weird and distorted..." Don't think the engineers didn't object either. The producer, Charlie Daniels, kept the suits off Banana's back. The band, too, remember them, sprinkled brief streaks of melodic experimentation throughout the album. Banana wrote the music for this gem by hand with an old Wurliztzer elecric piano. When the album was done Banana climbed a mountain -- a real one.
What's the result? A dreamy, electric neon-lit jazzy, country, rock, and ragtime doze off to miracle, something unique, something different, and something to cherish.
I got to see this band, live, at their peak, at U.C. Davis. I even got to sit on the back of the stage. It was incredible. They played "Elephant Mountain" and a few other of their other usual suspects. Some of this other stuff isn't bad either. There's "Get Together", which everybody knows, but there's also "The Wine Song" and "Grizzly Bear" for example.