Captain Beyond’s transition from debut to the next wasn’t smooth as it did here on the band’s second album, so what went wrong?
Written by: gdmonline
ARTIST: Captain Beyond
ALBUM: Sufficiently Breathless
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Rod Evans – vocals * Larry ‘Rhino’ Reinhardt – guitars * Lee Dorman – bass * Marty Rodriguez – drums, backing vocals * Guille Garcia – percussion * Reese Wynans – piano, electric piano
Additional Musicians: Paul Hornsby – organ (#5)
TRACK LISTING: 01 Sufficiently Breathless * 02 Bright Blue Tango * 03 Drifting In Space * 04 Evil Men * 05 Starglow Energy * 06 Distant Sun * 07 Voyages Of Past Travellers * 08 Everything’s A Circle
I think it goes without saying that the 1972 debut by Captain Beyond is an outright early 70’s hard rock classic. We’ve written a review about it, and its status is confirmed on Glory Daze Music at least. As with any band going through a transition from one album to the next, sometimes things progress smoothly, or the whole process can turn to custard, as it did here on the band’s second album ‘Sufficiently Breathless’. What went wrong?
Well, the band saw the departure of drummer Bobby Caldwell, who was replaced by two Latino percussionists Marty Rodriguez and Guille Garcia. I think it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out how the band shifted from a space rock/prog rock outfit to a jazz flavoured outfit with Santana as a reference point. In retrospect, most punters have considered this to be a vastly inferior album to the sonic debut, though I’m not entirely convinced by that statement, in any case, let’s take a listen to it.
The album opens with the title track ‘Sufficiently Breathless’, the country rock sound keeps up appearances throughout, no real drums to speak of, just percussion and mostly acoustic strumming and picking. The inevitable solo is extended. ‘Bright Blue Tango’ lifts the tempo, sounding slightly free form and jammy like.
‘Drifting In Space’ is more of the Captain Beyond we know from the year previous. It’s an improvised session and to these ears, it could go in any number of directions if played live, that much I’m sure. ‘Evil Men’ has traces of early Blue Oyster Cult‘s proto metal, and works really well.
‘Starglow Energy’ is the ballad on the album but does rise and fall during its 5 minute run time. It comes across as ponderous and wistful in a Pink Floyd kind of way. ‘Distant Sun’ is probably my pick on the album, but a close relative of the debut, and so far no traces of Santana.
‘Voyages Of Past Travellers’ is a brief sci-fi themed instrumental which segues into the closer ‘Everything’s A Circle’. Now the percussion and Latin flavours kick in, so all is revealed. The solo sounds like it’s been borrowed from the Isley Brothers!
I mentioned above the Santana reference. That’s been name-dropped by many elsewhere on the Net but the comparison is only on one significant song on the album, not all. I’ll agree it’s not to the same consistent level as the Captain Beyond debut but it’s not the write off that everyone makes it out to be either. The proof in the pudding will be when you get to listen to it and make your own mind up. Give it a go.