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"I'm so depleted . . .",
This review is from: 69 (Audio CD)
By all accounts, this could easily have been a major disaster, following on the craziness of the New York recording sessions of its predecssor, "Wow," and the departure of group member Skip Spence. Instead, the resulting CA sesssions produced perhaps the group's second strongest album, with more than a few echoes of the debut.
Generally described as a turn to country and roots rock, I see this album through a somewhat darker lens, that is, as an extended meditation on the struggle to prevent disintegration. With various members undergoing their own personal crises--Bob Mosely was to leave soon after this, Skip Spence had his own inner demons to deal with ("Seeing:), and Peter Lewis was undergoing a divorce ("I Am Not Willing")--Moby Grape '69 represented a space of solace, one where the music worked as a positive force against these outside forces, and brought, albeit briefly, a new four-piece band into being.
The playing here is wonderful, too, with acoustic flourishes in "It's a Beautiful Day, Today," and the delicious, lazy opening lick of "Ain't that a Shame." The efforts at up-tempo pieces, while perhaps a bit derivative lyrically (especially "Trucking Man") convey an energy missing from "Wow." Finally, "Going Nowhere" and "Seeing," the set's closers, provide a killer finish; and the latter track, with its repeated invocation to "Save Me!" and "take me far away" remains some sort of acid-fried masterpiece (one doesn't need to know Skip's subsequent history to hear the pangs of genuine angst in his vocals).
An album which the liner notes to Vintage described as "criminally underrated," this one, along with the first, represents the group's true legacy, a band that could cover a diverse range of styles with terse, poignant lyrics. And, once again, the Sundazed remastering does a nice job, making this a worthy addition to any collection. Sadly to say, I can't say the same of the next release in this series, "Truly Fine Citizen," but more on that later . . .
I used to program the Moby Grape '69 tracks on my copy of Vintage to simulate the album, but now I don't have to do that anymore--highly recommended along with the first album, with the other three reiusses remaining reserved mainly for fans of the group.