Montrose deliver some intriguing tracks here, most of them quite good, but vastly different to the previous two ‘Hagar’ fronted affairs.
Written by: gdmonline
ALBUM: Warner Bros Presents..
LABEL: Warner Bros
SERIAL: BS 2893
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Bob James – lead vocals * Ronnie Montrose – guitar * Jim Alcivar – keyboards * Alan Fitzgerald – bass * Denny Carmassi – drums
Additional Musicians: Novi Novog – viola
TRACK LISTING: 01 Matriarch * 02 All I Need * 03 Twenty Flight Rock * 04 Whaler * 05 Dancin’ Feet * 06 O’ Lucky Man * 07 One And A Half * 08 Clown Woman * 09 Black Train
Here is the third installment from this popular San Francisco band from the 1970’s. As at the end of 2015, this album has seen a fresh reissue on CD, courtesy of Rock Candy Records. It is in this context that we review this album, as we have written up all of the other Montrose releases. This is the first Montrose LP that doesn’t feature vocalist Sammy Hagar, who departed the band for a solo career.
New singer Bob James steps in, also added was keyboardist Jim Alcivar, who would also be a vital part of the Gamma line-up a few years down the track. The major change is that Ronnie himself handles production duties, taking over from Warner Bros in-house producer Ted Templeman.
Some intriguing tracks here, most of them quite good, but vastly different to the previous two ‘Hagar’ fronted affairs. ‘Matriarch’ has been described as a Deep Purple powered track. I’d go one further and suggest that Legs Diamond are a better musical fit.
‘All I Need’ is quite subdued, and forges into early Heart territory (with male vocals instead of female). The solo from Ronnie sets an unusual guitar tone. The Eddie Cochran cover ‘Twenty Flight Rock’ sounds like Led Zeppelin doing it, pretty nifty version regardless.
For ‘Whaler’, Montrose head into unknown territory with this over-extended progressive rock number. Certainly a change of scenery, with the haunting viola part from Novi Novog complimenting Ronnie’s guitar work and Alcivar’s subtle keyboard parts. Maybe this was inspired by the tale of Moby Dick? Getting back to Montrose’s stock and trade, ‘Dancin’ Feet’ is more of a radio rocker than anything to do with disco, or penguins for that matter!
‘O Lucky Man’ is sourced from the soundtrack of the British movie of the same name released in 1973. The soundtrack was written by The Animals keyboard player Alan Price. Skipping past the short instrumental ‘One And A Half’, Montrose settle into a blues-rocker ‘Clown Woman’, featuring a steel guitar solo.
The heaviest and fastest song here is the closing ‘Black Train’. A fiery tune originally sourced from a 1971 project called Buddy Bolden, which was shelved before it was ever released. Ronnie originally played on that track along with Gerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead, and wanted to do good by it, even though the original was flavoured as country & western.
This album made it to #79 in the Billboard album charts. Not as high as 1974’s ‘Paper Money’ (#65), but much higher than the superior 1973 debut which only made it to #133. One more album was offered up the following year (‘Jump On It’), before Ronnie would fold the band, go solo between 1977-1978, then form the legendary Gamma.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)