Could Brother Bait have taken the prize of the world’s best undiscovered pomp band?
Written by: RichardB
ARTIST: Brother Bait
ALBUM: Brother Bait
LABEL: Tiger Lily
SERIAL: TL 14070
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Christopher ‘Rudy’ Costley – percussives, backing vocals * Rod Lester – lead vocals, percussion * Maurice David Crutcher – piano, organ, clavinet, string machines, synthesizer, backing vocals * Ron Bloom – lead guitar, acoustic guitar, twelve string, backing vocals * L.Golden McDonald – fender bass, lead vocals
TRACK LISTING: 01 Masquerade * 02 I’m No Pushover * 03 Rainbow * 04 I Caught You In The Act * 05 Two Sides Of Love * 06 Crazy World, Crazy Girl * 07 All I Need Is Your Love * 08 Ride Into The Sunset
‘Who is the world’s best undiscovered pomp band?’ was a question I’d pontificated on many a long dark winter evening. ‘Get a life!’ I expect would have been the response had I posed this to my other half, who doesn’t quite share my enthusiasm for the pomp genre. We’ll leave her musical tastes for discussion another time I think. As luck would have it, I managed to solve this personal conundrum a couple of years ago (without the assistance of my beloved!), when I acquired Brother Bait’s debut.
In keeping with the tradition of a long lost classic the band’s origins remain a mystery and.. they were signed to an obscure record label: Tiger Lily. Rumour has it that Tiger Lily was a money laundering front for more er, dubious activities. Even more bizarrely, it has been suggested that a lot of the acts on the Tiger Lily roster were unaware of the subsequent release of their recorded material.
Brother Bait – from Atlanta, had all the qualities you would expect, nay demand from a truly great pomp band. For starters, a bewildering array of keyboards – or in the words of the sleeve notes, ‘instrumentation’ were at Maurice Crutcher’s disposal. They had two strong lead vocalists, a virtuoso guitarist/songwriter in Ron Bloom, and a fine ear for melodies.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, their music was technically complex, though never sufficiently enough to render you comatose, unlike say early Kansas, or most of the Yes back catalogue. It’s difficult to make comparisons as Brother Bait had their own unique brand of pomp, though in places, ‘Leftoverture’ period Kansas (without the violins) is the nearest reference point that springs to mind.
Opener ‘Masquarade’ sets the tone for the album, Christopher Costley’s solid drumming setting the backbeat upon which Messrs Bloom and Crutcher weave the first of many rich tapestries of guitar/keyboard interplay.
The following track ‘I’m No Pushover’ is an out and out pomp classic, easily standing shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Roadmaster, and Trillion in their prime. Fuelled by Maurice Crutcher’s Hammond organ it has a wonderfully overblown chorus and truly ferocious guitarwork by Ron Bloom.
‘Rainbow’ evokes Kansas comparisons, and ‘I Caught You In The Act’ features yet more guitar histrionics from Ron Bloom. The bright and breezy ‘Crazy World, Crazy Girl’ showcases delicate vocal harmonies, and deft keyboard touches, whereas ‘All I Need Is Your Love’ and the rousing album closer ‘Ride Into The Sunset’ ushers the return of Ron Bloom’s electrifying guitar work, and Maurice Crutcher’s strident Hammond organ.
The band hung around long enough to release a follow up, ‘Alive’, but sunk without trace soon afterwards. As far I can tell the only band member that continued to have any profile at all was Ron Bloom who did a stint touring with Benny Mardones – hardly a suitable postscript for the man’s considerable talent.
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