"Cleveland's enigmatic Granicus recorded just one eponymous LP before fading into rock & roll oblivion, but boy, it's an absolute gem! Quietly released by RCA in 1973, Granicus is truly an album out of time -- especially its own -- which perhaps explains its eventual commercial failure. Years on, the record acts as a veritable time capsule, taking the listener back to that tenuous transition point where late-'60s progressive rock and experimental psychedelia finally gave way once and for all to what is now considered the classic '70s hard rock sound. Indeed, it's this convoluted transformation process that simultaneously informs the album with its edgy, nervous energy and helps explain its mysteriously lasting appeal. Elements of the old ways pervade the wistful interlude "Twilight," the prog-tastic "Nightmare," and the 11-minute freakout "Prayer," while ballsy hard rockers like "You're in America" and "When You're Movin'" reflect the new world order imposed by the church of Led Zeppelin. Somewhere in between, an optimum balance is struck by excellent single "Bad Talk," the scorching, self-affirming tirade of "Cleveland Ohio" (where singer Woody Leffel scats his way through every insult ever aimed at his hometown's citizens: "Uncool, unheavy, ungroovy, unfunky, unhip, greaseball!"), and the amazing hard boogie workout that is closer "Paradise." As for the bandmembers, their technical prowess and taut interplay drives all of the above into truly impressive realms of inspiration, and with his piercing shrieks and bluesy falsetto, Leffel is a positively eerie sonic precursor to Rush's Geddy Lee. Rock & roll history may have dealt them a losing hand in the end, but there'll always be a place in musical anthropologists' hearts for both Granicus the band and Granicus the album."
"When I first heard about Granicus, I knew instinctively that they HAD to be from the Midwest, and judging from the title of their balls-out charging of the gates of “Cleveland, Ohio”, they were. But from the high contrast photographs of the group kicking it out against a rising sun on the front cover to their anonymity of the back cover (where their faces are entirely airbrushed out for some reason) they could be from any backwater city of the USA in the early seventies. But this album is not your standard hard rock boogie -- it is compelling and expertly cut hard rock of the most unique kind. And adding to its uniqueness is its year of issue (1973), the label it was issued on (RCA), as well as the back cover liner notes, the logo and everything else that screams the sort of packaging you’d expect from an album released on Columbia years later. And in those same liners Holden refers to the “hi-amp speechsong” of Woody Leffel present on just the aforementioned track “Cleveland, Ohio” alone. He is mistaken-- they’re on EVERY track. And they fall short of the stock in trade definitions “pyrotechnics” or “gymnastics” usually tossed about when describing the unusually shrill vocalist of any typical, mediocre hard rock from this time. Because Leffel’s not shrill, and he’s by no means typical -- his skyward-raised head emits ululations beyond orgasmic that verge on the most feminine ever to issue forth from a fully clothed male. And because Granicus emerged chronologically centre of 1970 proto-metal and its descent into dull, chest-beating macho blues-boogie bollocks of the mid/late seventies, they were not an SG-wielding power trio, but an equally powerful five man electrical band of dual Gibson Les Pauls with a locked in rhythm section to boot. And lead guitarist Wayne Anderson lets loose in the most controlled yet ever-swooning manner as his solos run against the crunch of Al Pinell’s simple yet evergreen rhythm guitar throughout." more... (buy it)
Granicus - Cleveland, Ohio