Monday, December 15, 2008

John Kay - Forgotten Songs And Unsung Heroes + My Sportin' Life (1972-1973)
"John Kay's distinctive voice cut through radio with hits like Steppenwolf's "Magic Carpet Ride" and "Born to Be Wild." But on this LP there is none of the menacing growl found on his version of "The Pusher." What you will find here is Hank Williams' classic "You Win Again" with Kent Henry on simulated steel guitar, Hugh O'Sullivan on electric piano, George Biondo on bass, and the drummer from Lou Reed's Rock & Roll Animal band, Pentti "Whitey" Glan. The album was produced by the great Richard Podolor, who brought listeners Hoyt Axton and Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World." There is no Hoyt Axton here, but there are tunes by Richard Farina, Robert Johnson, Hank Snow, Patrick Sky, and the aforementioned Hank Williams, along with four Kay originals. To hear Kay droning "Christ will be our darling, and fear will be our name" on Farina's "Bold Marauder" is pretty chilling. Henry's acoustic guitar takes a back seat to Kay's dulcimer, and producer Podolor is on jaw bone and tambourine. This is a serious attempt by Kay to break away from the hard rock persona he established with Steppenwolf. That he pulls it off is impressive. Two years prior to this, John Phillips had a Top 40 hit with "Mississippi" on this same label, Dunhill, so it's not like the elements weren't in place for the lead vocalist from a superstar act to branch out. It's just that a six-minute composition like Kay's "Two of a Kind" was not going to get substantial AM radio airplay. Having Podolor perform on mandolin and organ with Kay providing vocals and guitar suggests that they were having fun more than looking for a hit single. If country radio had a tough time accepting Olivia Newton John, well, Steppenwolf's lead vocalist was not about to cross over as quickly as Brenda Lee. With just Biondo on bass and himself on harp and bottleneck guitar, Kay delivers a great version of Robert Johnson's "Walkin' Blues." This album is not what you'd expect, and that's part of what's so special about it. When Grace Slick does her own version of the Starship's No Protection on her Software album (and should be commended for such a bold move) and when Neil Young gives the world Trans, they shake things up. John Kay was not a star on the same level as Slick and Young, which makes his leap all the more admirable. The best track on this excellent album just may be Kay's own composition "Somebody," featuring the full band and gospel-style vocals from Marsha Jo Temmer, Joan Sliwin, and Alexandra Sliwin. Hank "Singing Ranger" Snow's "I'm Movin' On" comes as close to Steppenwolf as this album gets. Kay says that his version is closer to Ray Charles than Snow, but this track gives the artist and his fans that trademark snarl and a nice dark production. At three minutes and ten seconds, and with the nick of Three Dog Night's song "Liar" at the beginning, it's too bad radio didn't pick up on this fine work." (Joe Viglione, All Music Guide)

1. Many a Mile
2. Walk Beside Me
3. You Win Again
4. To Be Alive
5. Bold Marauder
6. Two of a Kind
7. Walkin' Blues
8. Somebody
9. I'm Movin' On
10. Moonshine (Friend of Mine)
11. Nobody Lives Here Anymore
12. Drift Away
13. Heroes and Devils
14. My Sportin' Life
15. Easy Evil
16. Giles of the River
17. Dance to My Song
18. Sing with the Children


Part 1__Part 2__Part 3__Part 4__Part 5__Part 6



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this-been looking for it in lossless for awhile.

6:42 PM, December 16, 2008  
Blogger GarColga said...

Okay Anon.

3:12 PM, December 19, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanx a lot!

6:47 AM, January 05, 2009  
Blogger GarColga said...

You're welcome Hallo!

3:49 PM, January 06, 2009  
Blogger A.O.O.F.C said...

Howzitgoin, GarColga. Great to see 8DIA back in full flight. Great John Kay post, as "My Sportin' Life" contains two very rare Becker & Fagen tracks. I spent a long time before I could find this album.....Just a word on the Crazy Mabel album on your blog - I received this comment from Geoff Leigh, ex- Crazy Mabel, as follows - "hi there sir.. crazy mabel...just downloaded the album - fake live recording - in fact it was a studio demo bootlegged by our manager after the group had split up! full lineup >Alan Spriggs - vocals Mick Connell - guitar Les Cirkle - drums Jim Sullivan - bass Bryn Collinson - tenor sax Geoff Leigh - alto sax / flute I'm on myspace/geoffleigh have a nice 2009! G. " .....TTU soon, GarColga

6:03 PM, January 06, 2009  
Blogger hebronbear said...

Hooray! My Sportin' Life is one of the great unknown treasures of the 70's. I have an odd childhood memory of John Kay being on some variety show (Kenny Rogers?) and playing Moonshine (Friend of Mine), or perhaps the hallucinations started much earlier than I had surmised.

8:16 PM, January 26, 2009  
Blogger GarColga said...

Hi A.O.O.F.C. - yeah I could tell that Crazy Mabel was faked!

Hi hebronbear - Wow, if you're hallucinating Kenny Rogers...

8:46 PM, January 26, 2009  

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