Reissue of 1969 Release featuring Early Work by the Late Guitarist Tommy Bolin Before He Joined Deep Purple.
Should have been an instrumental album
P.S. | Japan | 11/15/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I picked up this album because I recently have taken an interest in Tommy Bolin and was curious about his early recordings. I had only his reputation and the reviews on Amazon to go by. This album both impressed me and made me want to run to tape up the windows.
Let's talk about the impressive parts first. Musically there is a lot of talent here. At least twice I found myself thinking of Led Zeppelin, noting the slow heavy blues and Tommy Bolin's soloing, which occasionally resembles Jimmy Page's style on early Zeppelin albums, particularly on Somebody Listen and Hard Chargin' Woman. When Bolin is given a chance he proves himself a talented guitarist, even though the more familiar style of his later years is not apparent here. The other musicians do well too. Robbie Chamberlin (dr), David Givens (bs), and John Faris (keys, flute) show they can play heavy blues as well as any British band. Musically, this album deserves a 4 if not 5.
And then there's Candy Givens on vocal. At first - maybe the first minute - I thought she was alright, sounding a bit like Janis Joplin. But it became apparent soon that she was no Janis. The biggest problem is her constricted-throat wailing and howling that has her sounding like one half of a cat fight. It spoils almost every song. The band is playing away some beautiful music and Candy comes in starting out okay and then suddenly WHAAAA-IIIHH! Their cover of Raindrops had me begging for an instrumental soon. In fact, the next track is an instrumental. Boom-Ba-Boom is a 1:20 intro to Somebody Listen and ends with another WHAAAAH from Candy. The absolutely ludicrous Huna Buna, a song that is more annoying than The Black-eyed Peas's Humps song, had me clutching my forehead and saying, "God, make her stop!" Later I realized that the song might have been intended as a joke.
To be fair, she has a sense of what she is trying to do - that is sing jazzy or heavy blues like Robert Plant or Janis Joplin - and she can sing and does a decent if not pretty good job of it as long as she is not doing that atrocious caterwauling. Her voice will only appeal to those that like that style or to those who can get used to it. The rest of the album is great if you can get past the screaming and howling. I give it three stars only because the vocals spoiled it for me. Considering the vocals alone I would have been hard pressed to rate it as high as a two."
Stands the test of time
Sandra in Motown | Motown | 02/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've been listening to this album all my life and must say it's worth having in your collection. This band is totally underrated and forgotten, so let's spread the word.
Suns a rising
T. P. Russell | Wichita, KS United States | 08/26/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"relistened to this lately, tremendous album for your review, two key elements , bolins bluesy riffs, and candy givens heavy blues vocals, similar to joplin but cleaner,,,, this plays as well today as it did in 70 just far to short, wonder where the studio outtakes are on this one,,,, too bad tommy died so soon best song is st james infirmary stands alone in its time and for all time,,,,,,"
G. Bohan | 08/16/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this band open up for 10 years after at the filmore east in february 1970. To say the least i was quite impressed. They put on an excellent show. They released the 10 years adter show on cd to bad they didn't do the same for zephyr's set.
Needless to say i went out and bought this record and their later effort; which never reached the intensity of this recording.
William R. Nicholas | Mahwah, NJ USA | 12/08/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Long before Tommy Bolin joined Deep Purple in the mid-70s, he was on this album. Zephyr's self-titled debut was released by ABC Probe--the labals underground branch,-in 1969.
This is a blues rock album but is progressive blues. The first track features a long keybord rave up, frothing with energy. A lot of bands felt obligated to put such ideas in their work in 1969, but Zephyr are great players, and make this idea pay off.
The album continues with such mixes and is a great listen for late 1960s rock with some progressive elements.
Candy Givens is not a terrible singer--the band are big enough to sustain her vocals. She is good in the lower ranges, but her voice is a grating instrument in the higher ones. Every women in hard rock was trying to sing like Janis Joplin in 1969, and if you ever doubt there was only one Janis, take a listen to Given's attempts to make that two.
Still, this is more than engaging enough to hold the attention and is a great little known album from the era. If they had gotten a better vocalist, they might have been bigger."