Saturday, April 15, 2017
Arthur Gee-Whizz Band: "To Ward Off Ambitions" and "I Wanna Fly"
The first 2 cuts on side B. (I was going to play the first two cuts on side A, but there's a series of mean scratches on that part of the vinyl.)
Arthur Gee: vocals, acoustic guitar, harp
Bill Alexander: vocals, piano, organ, moog synthesizer
Steven van Gelder: vocals, banjo, fiddle, piano, acoustic and electric guitars
Marcus Damerst: vocals, acoustic and electric giutars
Don Riggs: vocals, drums,
Richard Hathaway: vocals, bass
In the fall of 1972, during my last semester at UB, a friend of mine worked as arts reporter for the Spectrum, the campus newspaper. One of her assignments was to review an album called City Cowboy, by the Arthur Gee-Whizz Band, promotional copies of which, I imagine, had been sent to many other college newspaper offices and radio stations. I suspect Tumbleweed Records(1) felt this was the best approach to reach the group's potential audience.
Not sure what to make of it after a first listen, she asked me to help her out, sit in on a follow-up spin and provide some input. I liked the band's eclectic -- countryish, multi-instrumental, seemingly tongue-in-cheek, borderline theatrical -- style, which only indicates how difficult it was to put then in any distinct category.
"I don't know why, but they remind me a little bit of the Bonzo Dog Band," I said to Randi, whose last name I've long forgotten.
At the time, I was a fan of the band's Let's Make Up and Be Friendly(2). Yesterday, while listening to this album for the first time in decades, I wondered what the hell I was thinking. Guess you had to be there, as we used to say. (But again then, I was there.)
Additionally, whatever once captivated me about the Bonzo Dog (Doo Dah) Band can also be filed under The Mysteries of Youth.
On the other hand, 45 years later, "City Cowboy" remains eminently listenable, though I wouldn't classify it as the best music you've never heard.
(1) Discography notes a 1973 release.
(2) Their only album to chart on Billboard. Late June 1972. 2 weeks. Peaked at #199.)
Be Bop 'N' Holla by Andy Fairweather Low. (4/9/2017)