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4.7 out of 5 stars
Mountain Climbing!
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69 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Released in 1969, Mountain's debut album "Mountain Climbing!" is considered by many to be their finest piece of work. The album immediately produced a mega hit with "Mississippi Queen". Mountain, fronted by guitarist/vocalist Leslie West, bassist Felix Pappalardi, drummer Corky Laing and organist Steve Knight, had a sound not unlike Britain's ever so popular group Cream. Interestingly, bassist Felix Pappalardi produced Cream's albums "Disraeli Gears","Wheels Of Fire" and "Goodbye", so obviously his influence is evident in Mountain's sound. West's guitar licks do have a similarity to Cream's guitarist, Eric Clapton except that Clapton's playing was more extreme than West's. Mountain's songs ranged from power chord rocker's such as the above mentioned "Mississippi Queen", "Never In My Life", and "Boys In The Band" to beautiful slower melodic songs such as "Theme From An Imaginary Western", "For Yasguer's Farm", to acoustic based tunes like "To My Friend" and "The Laird". This newly remastered version of "Mountain Climbing!" sounds better than the older version mainly because there seems to be more bottom end and mid-range added that the other lacked. There's also a bonus track "Live" version of "Yasgur's Farm" which is a nice addition as well as an eleven page booklet that includes comments by Leslie West and Corky Laing on the making of "Mountain Climbing!" as well as the info. about the group as a whole. If you like listening to 60's or 70's groups/artists such as Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, The Who or Led Zeppelin then you'll love this excellent rock cd. Highly Recommended!
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2006
Format: Audio CD
"Mountain". Big. High. Lofty. Rugged. Beautiful.

All those things describe this band, and I'm not just talking about the 400 pound singer-guitarist Leslie West. This band sounded big, sounded tough, and sounded thick. Leslie West had a massive guitar tone and voice, Felix Pappalardi's bass was fat and up-front, and Corky Laing attacked the drums as a powerhouse, not as a finesse drummer. Throw in Steve Knight on keyboards and you had a prototypical hard rock band from the late 60's/early 70's.

This band offered more, however. Beyond the huge, rough voice and thunderous guitar of West, Felix Pappalardi added his own mark on this band. His songs are much more thoughtful and lilting, with his higher voice setting a calmer, more emotional tone to his selections.

So, we are left with an album that starts with the pulverizing "Mississippi Queen" leading it off, power chords on top of the Felix/Corky rhythm section bludgeon. A song for the ages, it just blows you away with its intensity and ferocity. An FM staple, your kids will know the words to it when they get older, and will instantly know its coming when they hear Corky's cowbell intro. Who doesn't recognize this classic?

But, the next song is a much more introspective piece. Jack Bruce's "Theme From an Imaginary Western" features Knight's keyboards over Felix' vocals. A song about wagon trains! Rather than beat you over the head with crushing guitar heroics, it moves you along with the melody and thick production. A true, emotional classic as well.

The album continues like this. A West workout followed by a Pappalardi piece. And it works. Bi-polar power I called it in another review.

This is a GREAT album by a band almost forgotten today, except for "Mississippi Queen". There is not a bad song on it. This band was good in the studio, great in concert, and this, their first album, is their studio masterpiece. Not quite as polished as their later albums, this one just comes at you, raw and rough and bigger than life.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Mountain's 1970 classic, _Climbing_ is one of the most essential hard rock albums right up there with any classic album from Led Zeppelin, Hendrix or Cream. Featuring the superlative vocal and guitar talents of the great Leslie West and co-vocalist & bassist Felix Pappalardi, Mountain turned out some of the most tasteful, melodic, passionate and searing rock to ever be experienced.

It should be mentioned that Felix Pappalardi was famed for producing (and at times, playing instruments on) two of Cream's main classic studio albums, 1967's _Disraeli Gears_ and 1968's _Wheels of Fire_ (you should own all three of Cream's main studio albums made between 1966-1968, btw), so if any Cream attributes seem to be traced in some of Mountain's music, this should probably have a large part to do with it. And, wouldn't you know it: in addition to being the co-vocalist and bassist, he was Mountain's producer as well.

The songs here are some of the most tasty you will ever hear in hard rock, and some of the heaviest as well; they border on classic heavy metal. The crunchy and searing tone in Leslie West's guitar is one of a fiery, yet somewhat controlled and harnessed passion. You know the famous hit "Mississippi Queen," with it's opening cowbell hits, and that thick, searing, and equally melodic riff from Leslie West. And for the rest of the song, we are treated to more melodic riffs which burn with a searing intensity to match that of Leslie's heated, highly-passionate, throaty vocals, and vice versa. In addition to the man's ever-tasteful licks, his voice, to me, had something of a larger-than-life quality, while at the same time, being so earthy.

When I first heard "Theme For An Imaginary Western," I thought it was done by Jack Bruce. Sure enough, the track was actually written by Jack Bruce. This is one of the more beautiful and haunting numbers on the album, with some lovely chords and chord changes, which happen to be beautifully-smothered in the thick, rich, and oceanic tone of Leslie's guitar. Felix Pappalardi had quite a soulful voice, and when listening to how he phrases his vocals on this track, you can see why some would readily be reminded of Jack Bruce. "Never In My Life" is a fast-paced, bluesy number featuring Leslie and his array of tasteful licks, and his beautifully-raucous, inflammed vocals.

"For Yasgur's Farm" is probably my favorite track on here. Much like "Theme," this is one of the slow-burners on the album. Listen at those lovely arpeggiated chords and progressions, and (again) that rich, yet melodic crunch from Leslie's guitar. One thing that really moves me about this track (amongst many things) is how Felix Pappalardi offers his rich, silky-smooth R&B-esque voice on the verses, while Leslie West gets to offer his beautifully-raucous, heat-filled vocals on the chorus. How these two voices contrast with one another, along with the melodic beauty of the song itself, nearly breaks me down.

"To My Friend" is a solo acoustic piece by Leslie West, which starts off fairly serene and beautiful, and only escalates in speed and intensity as the time-length progresses. Not something to be taken too lightly. "The Laird" is a mellow number, which has an exotic atmosphere to it, mainly due to the percussion, and Felix's dreamy vocals also add to this aspect as well. After the last two breaks, we are thrown right back into the searing intensity of the past tracks, with "Sittin' On A Rainbow", which features some thick, monstrous pounding from drummer Corky Laing, and what else needs to be said about Leslie West? The song is also dominated by his gigantic vocals, and his ever-tasty leads and -- once again -- that excellent tone and crunch. "Boys In The Band" is a multi-faceted number which opens with minor-key piano chords, descending basslines, and sprinkles of Leslie's tasteful licks, which give this track something of a darkly-elegant beauty. We are then treated to a thick, sludgy teetering progression before the beautiful, bluesy chorus comes in. This is an excellent track that cleary has far more going for it than many would suspect on the surface.

As a bonus, we get excellent and insightful liner notes from Leslie West and Corky Laing (Leslie's are particularly laugh-out-loud hilarious) and a bonus cut, which is a live version of "For Yasgur's Farm."

This album deserves to be in any hard rock lover's collection, or for anyone who is interested in tastefully-crafted and passionate music. Also consider 1971's _Nantucket Sleighride_.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2006
Format: Audio CD
This album is just amazing, just too bad it didn't have Nantucket Sleighride, I know that's their next album, but boy it would have fit perfectly with this set. But still this album is jam packed with the best rock and roll money can buy. Mississippi Queen, a classic always will be. I have to say though Theme For An Imaginary Western is a hell of alot better jam song though and gets no airplay on any regular classic rock station, boy what a shame there. Never In My Life packs the punch and as always loud as hell. To My Friend a good little acoustic number. But just like the CD says it was meant to be played LOUD, enjoy.
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56 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2003
Format: Audio CD
How thrilled I was to get Mountain's two classic albums -- Climbing and Nantucket Sleighride -- in what I assumed would be beautifully remastered editions! How disappointed I was to discover that these cd's sound no different now than they did when they were originally issued eleven years ago! And that sonic experience can be summed up in two words: TAPE HISS. So much tape hiss that it's almost unbelievable. They may have repackaged these cd reissues, but it certainly does not sound as though they bothered to remaster them. And that's too bad; these Mountain masterpieces desperately needed to be properly restored/remastered. Shame on Sony! This amounts to thievery.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2000
Format: Audio CD
For the person who has the lp version of this recording and is considering purchasing the cd version.
The cd is not poorly remastered. The sound is as good as the lp (without the pops and clicks).
For the person who has a Mountain greatest hits recording and is considering purchasing individual Mountain cds, like this one.
You get quality but not quantity.
That is, the cd is only 32.34 minutes long (the same as the lp).
However all the songs are top rate. It is 3/4 very heavy blues rock songs with 1/4 sweet acoustic folkish blues
For a person new to Mountain and inquiring about their sound.
What caused me to become a Mountain fan was guitarist Leslie West's tone at that time (its changed since)
West was in the same league with B. B. King, Paul Kossoff, Elmore James etc.
That is while never technically brilliant and never dexterily smooth ala Eric Clapton; the tones coming out of these player's hands from basically one to three notes could impart more quality (tone) than a million notes by other players.
To sum up, if you are willing to put up with the lack of playing time, it would be a good cd to purchase because of the quality in it.
Because of the lack of playing time it only gets an 8/10.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Samhot'll give you a much better play by play of this album than me, but I'm here to be yet another voice to tell you to quit screwin' around and just buy this album. Every man, woman and child has heard "Mississippi Queen" since it appears on every classic rock compilation from here to De-friggin-Troit, but have you heard the other songs contained herein? While Mississippi Queen is a frickin heavy, rockin' song, you're cheating yourself by not hearing all that Climbing! has to offer. I seriously can't find one song on this damn cd I don't like. I only had to listen to it twice to really get into it. I wasn't all that crazy about the slower songs the first time around, but that changed awfully quick and now they're probably my favorite on the album. Leslie West is not only a great guitar player(lets hope he gets his due someday), but has some of the best vocals to be heard in a classic rock band. If you into 70s hard rock, buying Climbing! isn't a gamble, it's a guaranteed winner. You get this and it's gonna spend an awful lot of time in your cd player. And you can take that to the bank!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2001
Format: Audio CD
OK, I haven't yet heard the CD version of this album. However, I bought the LP when it came out in 1970 and I have played it to death over the years. It is a great, great album which is in my all time top ten. The contrast between the rough & powerful voice of Leslie West and the smooth vocals of his counterpart, Felix Papallardi (producer of Cream's "Disraeli Gears"), helps to provide a lot of variety, texture, and balance. Then, of course, you get West's awesome guitar work on milestones like "Theme For An Imaginary Western" (written by Jack Bruce), "Never In My Life", and the rock super classic "Mississippi Queen". There is not a bad cut on the album. If you want to hear what heavy rock sounded like before it was reduced to distorted noise, this album is a very good choice.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2008
Format: Audio CD
While being the second album in the Mountain "catalog" it was the first Album to feature the classic Mountain line-up of Leslie West, Felix Pappalardi, Corky Lang, and Steve Knight. Mountain "Climbing!" is a unique and dynamic masterpiece of classic rock. This was band that truly had two front men; one of the most potent collaboratives in the business, Leslie West and the late Felix Pappalardi.Mississippi Queen and Never In My Life are two hard rock definitives by which all others can be judged. "The Laird" is an ethereal whisper, with some of the sweetest lead guitar sounds you will ever hear. "Silver Paper," and "Boys In The Band" both deliver the trademark "one-two punch" to great effect. But, it's cuts like "For Yasgur's Farm," and "Theme for an Imaginary Western," both of which define the dynamic rock ballad, that the pure magic of the combination of these two powerful musical forces is especially evident. Without a doubt it is to be counted among one of the very best classic rock albums ever recorded. Oh, and BTW, the production on this album is especially outstanding.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Starting with the chart topping "Mississippi Queen", Mountain gained temporary monumental success! The song was so good, radio executives ignored the torrid lyrics. With nothing short of incredible lead and acoustic guitar playing, Leslie West shines on this collection with some of the most innovative guitar work of the period. Corky Lang's drums rivaled that of Ginger Baker's of the time and Felix Pappalardi's vocals could be smoothly romantic "Theme From An Imaginary Western" or wild, as in, "Never In My Life". "For Yasgur's Farm" is a wonderful tribute to Woodstock, while "To My Friend" is an amazing solo work of acoustic picking. "Boys In The Band" is a grand finale to an all too short album that defined a period of rock and roll without overshadowing it. A must for any true rock fan.
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