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Indeed, upon the release of their eponymous debut album in 1967, fame, fortune and historical prestige seemed inevitable for Mody Grape. Alas, it wasn't to be, due to various forms of mismanagement plus personnel problems, but during these 1966 and 1967 recordings from various venues including the Monterey Pop Festival this San Francisco quintet play like they couldn't miss. Despite Bob Irwin's mastering expertise, the sound is such it's difficult at times to discern just how detailed the guitar work of Jerry Miller, Peter Lewis and Skip Spence is, as they interweave strains of rock country and blues, but their own excitement in the moment compensates. As it does for the slightly ragged vocal harmonies on "Changes" and "Looper" from the Avalon Ballroom: that interplay also reaffirms the versatility of a band that, as composers of stellar originals such as those and "Bitter Wind," should've scaled a pinnacle of popularity in the Summer of Love (and perhaps beyond).
Enclosed in beautiful packaging with embossed cover lettering and stylish photos alongside Fricke's essay inside the multi-fold digipak, this seventy-plus minute CD concludes with an extended, largely instrumental piece titled "Dark Magic:" in its progression of Indian drones, blues paraphrasing and rock rhythms that ebb and flow in an ever widening circular pattern, it is a tour-de-force that suggests that Moby Grape had even greater things to offer than even that which is so fully on display elsewhere on this album.
-Doug Collette -- Glide Magazine, May 13, 2010
How nice it is to finally have live, prime Grape with decent (though not brilliant) fidelity after suffering through nasty bootlegs that have circulated. It's not up to the standard of their best country-folk-psychedelic-folk-rock-blues studio recordings, whose ultra-tight guitars and harmonies make this seem a tad ragged. But there are fresh and energetic versions of most of the songs on their first and best album, highlights from their subsequent LPs and a few surprises. The live versions of the early 1967 outtakes Rounder and Looper are the best of those, and the cover of B.B. King's Sweet Little Angel the most unexpected. Less thrilling is the 17-minute Skip Pence-penned psych dark jam Dark Magic, but the inclusion of their complete Monterey Pop set more than compensates, even if Spence is missing from the 1969 cuts. -Richie Unterberger -- Mojo, April 2010
Something tells me, if I had been at San Francisco's Avalon Ballroom in June of `67 to witness Moby Grape at the height of their powers, scorching through their set of two-minute pop blasts, blaring triple-guitar action and five-part harmonies soaring, I might not have survived the night. None was the match of the mighty Grape in those days; the band was "flying musically" and easily the toughest act around. Moby Grape Live is the first official release to afford a glimpse into the raucous and entrancing stage performances of one of the most exciting, original, and underappreciated bands of the '60s.
Separated into four sides, this double LP takes us to performances from the same weeks their infamously overhyped masterpiece Moby Grape was released, to their few high-octane minutes at the legendary Monterey International Pop Festival, jumping forward to a 1969 performance in Amsterdam featuring cuts from Wow and `69, and ending back at the start: a full side of "Dark Magic," recorded New Years Eve, 1966. This one's worth the purchase for Side 1 alone. The rabid energy of the band, issuing rapid-fire gems like "Rounder" and "Looper," hits a high point in "Changes" into "Indifference" featuring Jerry Miller's careening lead guitar. Skip Spence turns in a beautifully honest vocal to cap the blistering set with "Someday." The highlight for me, however, are the post-Skip tracks from 1969 on Side 3. "Murder in my Heart for the Judge" shows the band at their loosest, the slack and soul of the rootsier Grape a refreshing contrast. "I am Not Willing," one of their best songs, gets a grooving drawn out treatment and it's interesting to hear a matured group attack earlier hits "Fall on You" and "Omaha." The closing 17-minute raga, "Dark Magic," is more than a piece of rock music history, an actually listenable and fascinating performance, it features inspiring guitar leads, primitive electronic squeals, Skip's far out vocal, and the driving force of sound that made Moby Grape one of the hottest band of the era.
Sundazed has curated an important document here. Hardcore Grape addicts should note much of this material has been featured on bootlegs over the years (notably the tracks from Monterey Pop and "Dark Magic") but none of this has ever been officially released, and never with such pristine sound quality. David Fricke's notes are the icing on the cake. After the essential debut record, this is the Moby Grape record I would recommend next. -Brendan -- The Rising Storm, April 9, 2010
This stellar '60s San Francisco band's heartbreaking demise is so well-documented, the luckless tale often seems more celebrated than their mindbending music. Maybe that's because the group, during the hallucinatory apex of the Haight-Ashbury, wasn't actually a part of the community. Their individual talents were formed in other places, so it almost seemed like a whole band of designated hitters, maybe even carpetbaggers to boot, was at the center. But so what? Everybody has to be from somewhere, right? Moby Grape also committed the grevious error of releasing a perfect album in the Summer of Love, and that wasn't allowed either. Too commercial. The Grape's future soured and got squished almost immediately, but not before sunshine-saturated songs like "8:05," "Someday," "Omaha," "Changes" and "Indifference" showed the locals how to record timeless tracks. To this day, very few rock releases match that 1967 debut. Now, finally, a strong legitimate live collection surfaces, and it is shattering. Collected from Avalon Ballroom shows, their entire 4-song set at the Monterey International Pop Festival and a Netherlands radio broadcast, Live is exactly what it says: a turbulent but always beautiful journey through a seminal group's brief life. It is mostly joyous in its rocking glimpse at the birth and death of a band. The last song, the legendary but never officially released "Dark Magic," proves once and for all Moby Grape could ride the crest of acid-infused creativity with the best of them. At over 17 minutes, Skip Spence, Jerry Miller, Peter Lewis, Don Stevenson and Bob Mosley fly to the stars and back. That it was on December 31,1966--when this part of the Earth must have felt brand new and all possibilities endless--only adds to the vibrant poignancy of the sound. The Human Be-In was still two weeks away and all the good and not-so-good qualities of the exploding counterculture were soon to spread across the country. On this night and this song, though, there was probably no higher place to see the view of what was to come. And, most likely, Moby Grape knew it. Bless their pointed little hearts. -- Sonic Boomers, April 20, 2010
|1. Ain't No Use (Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, 1967)|
|2. Rounder (Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, 1967)|
|3. Looper (Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, 1967)|
|4. Bitter Wind (Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, 1967)|
|5. Changes (Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, 1967)|
|6. Indifference (Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, 1967)|
|7. Someday (Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, 1967)|
|8. Introduction (Monterey International Pop Festival, 1967)|
|9. Indifference (Monterey International Pop Festival, 1967)|
|10. Mr. Blues (Monterey International Pop Festival, 1967)|
|11. Sitting by the Window (Monterey International Pop Festival, 1967)|
|12. Omaha (Monterey International Pop Festival, 1967)|
|13. Sweet Little Angel (San Francisco, 1967)|
|14. Murder in My Heart for the Judge (RAI, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1969)|
|15. I Am Not Willing (RAI, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1969)|
|16. Trucking Man (RAI, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1969)|
|17. Fall on You (RAI, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1969)|
|18. Omaha (RAI, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1969)|
|19. Dark Magic (Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, 1966)|
Great Band. Terrible recording.
Get their 1967 studio album titled Moby Grape
Wolfgang's Vault has a set by these guys that is dynamite. This collection of songs is fine, but doesn't come close.Published 13 months ago by D. Barth
Up to this point, the only Moby Grape performances captured live were on bootlegs. There was a Dutch cd with a 1969 performance which I'm not certain about concerning it's legal... Read morePublished 21 months ago by McGuinnThompsonKaukonenVerlaineandCarthy
All the great Moby Grape classic songs expertly performed & decently recorded. They truly were an outstanding live band that paved the way for Quicksilver, The Dead, Jefferson... Read morePublished on February 5, 2011 by Mark Waldrop
Very interesting live recording of what I feel is an over-looked super group. "Murder in My Heart for the Judge" is a fun song, too! Check it out~~~~~~~Published on January 11, 2011 by don Carona
Moby Grape LiveThis is a must have for Moby Grape fans but the uninitiated would be better off getting familiar with their first album before venturing into this territory. Read morePublished on July 26, 2010 by Rod W. Cook
Back in the day, I thought Moby Grape was overhyped, and apparently they were judging upon how their career went. Read morePublished on July 21, 2010 by Kindle Customer
Moby Grape Live is a super flashback to another era..........sound quality is typical.....maybe better.......for vintage live back in the day..........good stuff........... Read morePublished on July 10, 2010 by Amazon Customer