Moby Grape - Wow/Grape Jam (1968)

Moby Grape were an American rock band, part of San Francisco’s famous 60s psychedelic scene.

Their second release was an interesting take on the double album idea - two completely seperate albums with seperate covers, packaged together and sold for the price of one LP. Depending on how you look at it, Wow/Grape Jam could be seen as one big long album, two completely seperate regular length albums which happened to have been released together, or a main album (Wow) with another disc of extensive jam-based bonus material (Grape Jam).
Wow expanded on the distinctive sound they had perfected on their classic debut album, and brought in all sorts of new ideas in terms of both songwriting and production. Horns and strings featured on many of the songs, and the unity of the first album was somewhat broken up. The strangest song is the 1930s-style "Just Like Gene Autry: A Foxtrot", which features a guest appearance from Arthur Godfrey, who reads the spoken introduction and plays the ukulele. Though it does feature some classic Moby Grape tunes ("Murder In My Heart For The Judge", "Bitter Wind" and "He" being the most notable) Wow lacks the cohesiveness which made Moby Grape so strong, and it arguably suffers from this (though it does perhaps make up for it in diversity). But then again, such criticisms might only be levelled at it due to the fantastic debut album it had to follow, which was always going to be hard to beat.
The second disc of the double-album package, Grape Jam, was a much looser affair, and as the name suggests, based around the idea of instrumental jams. Peter Lewis and Skip Spence hardly appear on it, though their absence is made up for by the presence of Al Kooper on piano. Bookending three jams which focus mostly on Kooper and lead guitarist Jerry Miller is the slow, bluesy "Never" and the bizarre psychedelic sound collage "The Lake".

Moby Grape (1967) <|> Moby Grape '69 (1969)
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

“The Lake” was a song that was recorded because Columbia records had a contest to pen a Moby Grape song. The actual winner was a song called “Hairy Mary” which was nixed by Columbia records A&R men. “The Lake” was chosen by the record company as the “winner”. If you listen closely at the end of the song you can hear the guys saying “Poor Roger Muckey, Mucker was so un-lucky” and at the very end they say “what ever happened to Hairy Mary?” Roger Muckey was the author of “Hairy Mary” which the Grape never did record although it was their choice as the winning song. so……..WHATEVER HAPPENED TO HAIRY MARY?