Some of you AOR fans will remember late 70s outfit Couchois, this band Ratchell was their precursor, delivering early 70’s pop.
Written by: Eric
SERIAL: MAPS 5725, DL-75330
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Larry Byrom – guitars, piano, organ, trumpets, mandolin, vocals * Chris Couchois – drums, vocals, congas, percussion * Howard Messer – bass, piano, trumpet, vocals * Pat Couchois – guitars, piano, organ, vocals
TRACK LISTING: 01 Problems * 02 Lazy Lady * 03 Here On My Face * 04 And If I Will * 05 Julie My Woman * 06 Warm And Tender Love * 07 Home * 08 My My * 09 Out Of Hand * 10 How Many Times * 11 Saycus * 12 Peace Of Love
From that hotbed of rock n’ roll Huntsville, Alabama let me introduce you to Ratchell. Never heard of them eh? Oh, I think you have. Any self respecting AOR fan that owns the two Couchois albums will recognize three names in this group’s line-up. That’s right, Chris and Pat Couchois and Howard Messer released two albums as Ratchell.
The band was founded by former Steppenwolf and Huntsville native guitarist Larry Byrom. What happened between the last album ‘Ratchell II’ and the first Couchois record is a mystery, but both Ratchell albums in particular, the self-titled debut are worth checking out for fans of early 70’s pop.
I am not going to start off by telling you this is the most original album I’ve ever heard because it’s not, but it is very good. A product of its time, I hear bits and pieces of Three Dog Night, Bread, Blues Image, Grand Funk Railroad, Sugarloaf and more.
Ratchell put these obvious influences together in such a way that it’s hard not to like the LP. Highlights include the opener ‘Problems’ and ‘Julie My Woman’ with their hard-to-miss Santana vibes and the Eric Clapton styled ballad ‘And If I Will’.
Special mention for drummer Chris Couchois whose percussion work here is very impressive throughout the record. The Mersey influenced ‘My My’ and the classical instrumental ‘Saycus’ which segues nicely into the Badfinger-ish ‘Peace Of Mind’ are the best of side two’s offerings. But the album as a whole is a wonderful package worthy of any serious pop collection.
I’m not sure what happened to the Couchois brothers or Howard Messer, but Larry Byrom went on to a successful career as a Nashville session man. Like Couchois, I would be surprised if the Ratchell albums ever see the light of day on compact disc, but as we all know, there is always a chance.