Title: Rollin' the Jets
Company: Baby Grand
Catalog: SE 1024
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened and torn)
Here's a rarity even within the obscure Los Angeles-based Baby Grand tax scam label. I've only seen one copy, let alone any sort of online review of the collection ...
Given these guys are total unknowns, the only biographical information I can provide is lifted off the abbreviated liner notes on 1977's "Rollin' the Jets". The band lineup featured the talents of guitarist H. Barns, drummer B. Lewis, bassist V. Lewis, guitarist G. Marmont, and guitarist/keyboardist L. Wilson. Marmont and Wilson produced the album at HMS Studios in Jackson, Colorado leading me to guess they were originally from Colorado. Based on the lyrics to 'I'll Be Coming Back To You', 'Five Man Band' and 'Why Don't You Leave Me Alone' they may have been native Americans.
Without writing credits, it was impossible to tell you who was responsible for these eight numbers. I can tell you that the band's predominant sound was country-rock. Think along the lines of Firefall, or Poco and you wouldn't be too far from the overarching sound. The tracks were all quite good with lots of CSN-styled harmonies and plenty of vocals with a nature-orientation ('I'll Be Coming Back To You', 'Love To See You Again', and The Good Earth). That said, this collection was far from perfect. Whoever handled most of the lead vocals had an incredibly nasal tone that took some time to get accustomed to. Admittedly, once you got use to his voice it wasn't a big deal. Another shortcoming - the album lacked a single note of originality. There performances were all fine, but you'd heard most of this elsewhere; frequently done just as well, if not even better. Admittedly that's a statement that applied to 90% of the albums I listen to, but on this one you could actually play 'spot-the-influences'.
- 'I'll Be Coming Back To You' was a surprisingly impressive country-rocker with some fantastic lead guitar. As mentioned above, the song was also interesting for the lyric which led me to wonder if these guys were native Americans. rating: *** stars
- The album's most commercial and radio-friendly performance, I suspect the song's original title was 'We're Gonna Ball Tonight', or something similar but due to public sensitivities (and good taste), Baby Grand management slapped the somewhat less obvious 'Nocturnal Conquest' title on the song. A breezy bar-band rocker, this one had an instantly memorable melody and a horn arrangement that actually improved the song (and I'm not a big horn fan). The song actually sounded like t might have been recorded live. rating: **** stars
- On the surface 'Steamboat Dreams' was a pedestrian slice of country-rock, but the emphasis was on rock and the Cajun flavored lyrics made this performance one of my favorites. rating: **** stars
- The harmony-rich ballad 'Love To See You Again' featured group vocals that reminded me a bit of a drunken CSN. A bit ragged for my ear, but so what. rating: ** stars
- Apparently an autobiographical number, 'Five Man Band' offered up the standard 'life is tough as a working musician, but we'll make it to the top' lyric. Clearly their best wasn't enough ... rating: ** stars
- The melody and harmony vocals were all pretty and the 'we're all going todie and return to the soil' lyric was perhaps meant to be inspirational, but it didn't exactly lift my spirits. rating: ** stars
- 'Back Door Again' sounded like second rate Pure Prairie League. If you looked that particular genre, then this was right up your alley. Giving credit where due, the guitar solo was actually very good. rating: ** stars
- 'All My Life I'll Live for You' was another pretty, but anonymous ballad. The two things this one had going for it were a strange, Buddy Holly-tinged edge and another nice lead guitar solo. rating: *** stars
- The album ended on a high note with the atypical hard rocker 'Why Don't You Leave Me Alone'. This one sported another 'life is tough and the big man is screwing me' lyric, but the rest of the song was good enough to overlook the lyrical shortcomings. rating: *** stars
While I may not have gushed all over this one, I will say that I'd rather hear this one than anything in the Firefall or Pure Prairie League catalogs ... And 'Nocturnal Conquest' was a great bar band number.
"Rollin' the Jets" track listing:
1.) I'll Be Coming Back To You - 2:44
2.) Nocturnal Conquest - 3:54
3.) Steamboat Dreams - 3:36
4.) Love To See You Again - 2:47
1.) Five Man Band - 3:32
2.) The Good Earth - 3:43
3.) Back Door Again - 3:46
4.) All My Life I'll Live for You - 2:53
5.) Why Don't You Leave Me Alone - 3:00