An experimental approach from Frank Marino And Mahogany Rush rears again for 1977’s ‘World Anthem’, not quite commercial radio oriented material I’m afraid, with three tracks (out of eight) over the six minute mark.
Written by: gdmonline
ARTIST: Frank Marino And Mahogany Rush
ALBUM: World Anthem
SERIAL: PC 34677
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Canada
LINEUP: Frank Marino – vocals, guitars, synthesizer, percussion, timpani * Paul Harwood – bass * Jim Ayoub – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Requiem For A Sinner * 02 Hey Little Lover * 03 Broken Heart Blues * 04 In My Ways * 05 The World Anthem * 06 Look At Me * 07 Lady * 08 Try For Freedom
WEBLINKS: Site Link
By 1977, my musical tastes had expanded vastly. It really was the breakout year for me in terms of melodic hard rock discovery. However, one man I hadn’t quite gotten around to hearing was Canadian guitar-hero Frank Marino. His band Mahogany Rush might’ve have been big on the U.S arena circuit and he was now signed to CBS Records, but he was still Mr Invisible down under.
Those early Mahogany Rush albums were pretty experimental for their time, and we reviewed one of them (1976’s ‘IV’) too! I did see that LP in one of the bargain cut-out bins of my home-town back then, but passed on it. That experimental approach rears again for 1977’s ‘World Anthem’. Not quite commercial radio oriented material I’m afraid, with three tracks (out of eight) over the six minute mark.
It’s varied, a nod to jazz here and there, the obvious blues references, some synth dabbling too, giving it a space rock dimension. Marino And Mahogany Rush hadn’t totally gone into guitar overdrive yet, but it seems there was a vast difference between his studio work and live arena shows, as evidenced by some of the OTT video clips on YouTube.
The synths are immediate on the opener ‘Requiem For A Sinner’, phasing in and around the song structure. The guitar solos are heavily processed, while the song itself seems to ebb and flow from slow folky like passages to hard driving fare. ‘Hey Little Lover’ is strong on percussion and what sounds like psychedelic parts.
Somewhere along the way, we were bound to get a blues-based track, and ‘Broken Hearted Blues’ is it. It just happens to be what Marino and Mahogany Rush do best, an album highlight, with strong vocals and ‘out there’ guitar work. ‘In My Ways’ is the second lengthy track encountered thus far. It rolls along much like a ‘jam’ oriented piece, where Marino’s soloing can come in from any angle. ‘The World Anthem’ is probably the best known song from the LP, a progressive sounding effort, with synths and guitars intertwining. It appeared on CBS’s ‘Killer Watts’ compilation in 1980.
‘Look At Me’ is a complete change-up, a jazz/blues work-out with no hint of distortion anywhere! It’s an easy-on-the-ear tune, that shows Marino in a different light altogether. ‘Lady’ is also not the standard sort of Frank Marino fare. The guitar tone is mostly clean, Eric Johnson in parts, though the style is not Texan Blues. The epic song on the album is the eleven and a half minute effort ‘Try For Freedom’. It doesn’t reach a fast tempo, and is kept in check speed wise. The middle sections feature some flanger heavy guitar parts which sound very ‘wet’. There’s not a lot of energy here, the song rolls along on its own momentum. It’s a reasonable tune nonetheless.
There’s nothing here from Frank Marino And Mahogany Rush that truly stands out as being exceptional. From my perspective, the material here was too much of a mixed bag. Only ‘Broken Hearted Blues’ stood out for me. Thankfully, Marino would gradually hone his craft and improve things musically over the course of the next few albums. His live album the following year was pretty good, but 1980’s ‘What’s Next’ was truly amazing. If wanting to immerse yourself in Marino’s discography, choose wisely.
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