Sunday, February 11, 2007

Ten Wheel Drive with Genya Ravan - Construction #1 (Polydor 1969)


Blogger low said...

This exemplary recording by songwriters Aram Schefrin, Mike Zager and singer Genya Ravan was highly experimental in ways that Chicago, Big Brother & The Holding Company, Traffic and other of their contemporaries wanted to be. Imagine Ronnie Spector leaving The Ronettes to join Blood Sweat & Tears, and realize the sweet Goldie Zelkowitz from Goldie & The Gingerbreads did just that by reinventing herself here as the great Genya Ravan. The Ravan co-write Tightrope is five minutes and ten seconds of psychedelic blues/jass/funk. This is the sound Janis Joplin would refine for her Kozmic Blues experience, and while Janis Joplin and Kozmic Blues performed at Woodstock, Ten Wheel Drive were getting such a buzz they turned Woodstock down. History would, indeed, have been different had they played I Am A Want Ad at that event, but with Sid Bernstein as co-manager, and songs like Lapidary, the band had a lot going for it. Lapidary is a complete about face, Traffic's John Barleycorn with a female vocalist. Eye Of The Needle on the other hand, was an eight minute plus show stopper of horns and guitars that come in like some country's national anthem. With Genya's amazing wail at the end it becomes powerful stuff. Songwriter Louie Hoff got to arrange his Candy Man Blues, which puts Genya in a nightclub setting, the piano and flutes changing the mood dramatically. This is such an adventurous and remarkable record by such a talented crew, it is a shame they didn't record twenty or more platters. A Polydor executive made a statement that if they couldn't break Slade they weren't a real company. Polydor did, in fact, fail to launch that British supergroup in America, and one wonders if these recordings were made for another label, if oldies stations wouldn't be playing Ten Wheel Drive today. Ain't Gonna Happen is extraordinary music, a band on the prowl, and a singer that pounces every chance she gets with a voice that does all sorts of wild things. If Polar Bear Rug and House In Central Park were a bit too evolved for Top 40, their A & R man should have brought them a single. Ten Wheel Drive could, like Etta James, play to those who crave this wonderful fusion of jazz and blues with a rock edge. A Ten Wheel Drive reconstructing, bringing this music back onstage, is something that would make the world a better place.

1. Tightrope
2. Lapidary
3. Eye Of The Needle
4. Candy Man Blues
5. Ain't Gonna Happen
6. Polar Bear Rug
7. House In Central Park
8. I Am A Want Ad

2/11/2007 9:36 PM  
Blogger Vanzetti said...

I've got this on vinyl and have enjoyed it since i discovered it. This is a driving album! Keep up the great work.


3/01/2007 12:28 AM  
Blogger dgram said...

I downloaded this album a while back but only found time to listen to it recently. Now I wish I hadn't waited so long. This is an excellent album, and although, yes, Janis Joplin comparisons are perhaps inevitable, I would also liken the attitude of Raven's cutting, hard, urgent vocals to Gayle McCormick at her most ferocious (think, Baby It's You). Speaking of which, any chance of re-upping Smith's minus-plus? I missed it the first time.

More generally, I want to thank you for all your incredible posts. You've single handedly expanded my musical knowledge in so many directions, my gratitude isn't even sure where to begin. Sunday's Child, Creative Source, Valerie Simpson, and Barbara Mason are just a few I've enjoyed. Fantastic work.

Lastly, I've been meaning to ask if you have either Occasional Rain or I Can't Help Myself by Terry Callier? Turn to Love is good, but the Stepney stuff is what I'm craving.

3/11/2007 9:33 AM  

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