Wow & Grape Jam
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Potential consumers of this release should be aware that neither Wow (1968) nor Grape Jam (1968) are presented in their entirety. The most egregious offenders are the complete absence of Skippy Spence's surreal "Just Like Gene Autry, A Foxtrot" from Wow and the equally out-there tone poem "Lake" that concluded the original Grape Jam long-player. Likewise, nearly a minute and a half has been lopped off of Bob Mosley's excellent "Bitter Wind." Those discrepancies aside, the remainder of these albums was first made available in the digital domain on this two-fer, which is one of several grey-area reissues from Moby Grape's infamous manager, Matthew Katz, on his short-lived San Francisco Sound label. The perpetually litigious Katz -- who had also managed Jefferson Airplane and It's a Beautiful Day -- quickly became a primary proponent behind the failure of Moby Grape to reach the heights of many of their Bay Area contemporaries. As the remnants gathered here attest, the lack of impact was not due to a dearth of excellent material. Wow's opener, "The Place and the Time," is one of two Jerry Miller/Don Stevenson collaborations and along with the pair's hard-drivin' R&B rocker "Can't Be So Bad," the duo supply two of the best entries on either title. Peter Lewis' introspective ballad "He" -- marked by a stunning orchestral score credited to Joey Scott and the Grape's producer, David Rubinson -- provides a striking stylistic contrast. As does Skippy Spence's bizarre "Motorcycle Irene," which was based upon a real-life acquaintance of the author. In addition to teaming up with Jerry Miller on the loose "Miller's Blues," Bob Mosley turns in the excellent (and aforementioned) ballad "Bitter Wind," the waltz love song "Three-Four," and the refined "Rose Colored Eyes." Grape Jam (1968) is an instrumentally heavy platter with the quintet joined by Al Kooper (keyboards) and Michael Bloomfield (piano/guitar) on the Windy City blues-inspired "Marmalade." While some of the lengthier outings, particularly the languid "Black Current Jam," tend to drag on a bit, Mosley's "Never" -- which was pinched by Led Zeppelin as "Since I've Been Loving You" -- and the gutsy "Boysenberry Jam" remain overall worthwhile spins. ~ Lindsay Planer, All Music Guide
Top Customer Reviews
Answer....Buy both albums (Amazon's other buying options still has some copies of Vintage for around $15/disc - which in California is a third of a fill up for a camery).Take the best cuts of both, and put them on a blank disc (the only song you wont have is the (very spacy) the Lake, and the announcement to turn your platter speed from 33 1/3 to 78 for Just Like Gene Autry, a foxtrot that was on the original WOW album.
This album reminds me a lot of Buffalo Springfield Again. Pungiant little gems from a rapidly disintegrating band.
Incidentally, you can do this, add The Place And The Time (original version - from Vintage), Miller's Blues (Live - from Vintage), and still have around 7 minutes to mess around with. Great for a car backup.
The record company owned by the Grape's former manager, who keeps them in court until this day btw, saw it fit not to include Skip Spence's Just Like Gene Autry and Grape Jam's 5th track on this CD. Also they faded out the ending of Bitter Wind way before the regular ending of the song. Aforementioned manager credits himself for producing this album. David Rubinson who did the production isn't mentioned at all. Get the picture ?
Should all songs have made it in their historically correct form on this CD Wow / Grape Jam should earn 4 stars easy, but as is it's a rip-off........