Minnesota’s Gypsy were strong on vocal harmonies and veered their music towards influences like America and Three Dog Night, they should have been based out in California judging by this.
Written by: gdmonline
LABEL: Metromedia Records
SERIAL: MSD 1031
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: James Walsh – vocals, keyboards, percussion * Enrico Rosenbaum – vocals, guitars, percussion * James C. Johnson – vocals, lead guitar * Doni Larson – bass * Jay Epstein – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Gypsy Queen Part I * 02 Gypsy Queen Part II * 03 Man of Reason * 04 Dream If You Can * 05 Late December * 06 The Third Eye * 07 Decisions * 08 I Was So Young * 09 Here In My Loneliness * 10 More Time * 11 The Vision * 12 Dead and Gone * 13 Tomorrow Is The Last To Be Heard
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Not many of us would’ve been around long enough to remember a band from the Minnesota twin cities called The Underbeats. These guys were huge on the Upper Midwest circuit between 1964 and 1968. Having reached a plateau in their local region, the members of this group headed west to California to try and break on a national level.
Having played a few gigs in the City of the Angels, the boys struck pay dirt when a new band called Chicago Transit Authority released their debut album thus releasing them from their resident gig at the Whiskey A-Go Go, enabling The Underbeats to replace them. It proved to be a steady seven month stint, which saw record labels take an interest in the band.
Stricken between having to sign with a large well known label (Atlantic), or a smaller newer enthusiastic label (Metromedia), the newly named Gypsy opted for the latter.
The debut album released in 1970 was a lavish affair, highlighting the band’s penchant for writing material with an emphasis on their multi-layered vocal harmonies. So good were the recording sessions that the band continued on to write a double-album’s worth of material!
The music provided by Gypsy doesn’t rock out hard like Blue Cheer, Bang etc, but is more in line with the likes of America and Three Dog Night. There is an emphasis on keyboards and organ played by James Walsh, with the other key members Rosenbaum and Johnson teaming up on guitars.
The standout cuts at the time were the dual brace of ‘Gypsy Queen’ – Parts 1 and 2. The near eleven minute epic of ‘Dead And Gone’ was another to make it to radio, bearing in mind this was before commercial FM radio started demanding shorter songs – Gypsy could get away with it.
‘Tomorrow Is The Last To Be Heard’ is another highlight, the Iron Butterfly styled drum solo through the middle (a la ‘Inna Gada Da Vida’) was kinda obvious. Elsewhere, the songs make for great listening, and if you place yourself in the mindset of 1970, this was pretty advanced for its time!
The debut album was well received by the public, the band going on to release one more album for Metromedia (‘In The Garden’) and a few more for the RCA label. The ‘Gypsy’ album has been re-released several times on CD, so it should be easy to track down. Refer the discography section of the bands website in the link above.
What is even more astounding, is that Gypsy are alive and well in the 21st century, and play a handful of gigs every year, with James Walsh the only survivor from those heady days of yesteryear. Not the typical album you would hear from an American band in 1970, and as for those vocal harmonies.. wow!
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