Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The New York Rock Ensemble Roll Over 1971

This was the great record that should have made this band. There's barely a weak track. The band had everything. Solid musicianship on all instruments played. Multiple singers, multiple songwriters. Reasonably good recording and production, at least by the time they made this one.

There is just a trace of the rock-classical fusion they practically invented on the first two records. This one rocks. It was their debut on Columbia, and I have no idea how this group didn't break huge on the heels of this offering. Somebody must have been asleep at the wheel. They toured the record, and their live show was excellent. Yes, I saw them. Twice.

Maybe it was the single about the necrophiliac Gravedigger. That probably didn't sell, at least not in the south. But what a great tune, twisted lyric and all, and with a B-movie bass line that drives the song forward. Running Down The Highway is a killer rockin' road tune. Fields Of Joy is a lovely ballad with a rock soul. Don't Wait Too Long kicks butt, Anaconda is another creepy lyric hung on a rocking riff, Beside You is a beautiful song that appeared in an inferior version many years later on one of Michael Kamen's many motion picture soundtracks, and Traditional Order is another solid rocker.

The bad news is that this record was released as a budget-priced twofer CD with the follow-up Freedomburger (that should be the good news, because Freedomburger was almost as strong as this set) and the mastering job is not good. Overly bright and digitally harsh, it sounds pretty bad- like it was mastered before 1990, even though it came out in 1999.

The good news is if you've still got a turntable, I'll bet you could find a decent used copy. And don't you love the cover art?

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