The sole album from this Levittown, Long Island (NY) quintet is an interesting amalgamation of prog, hard rock and psych. The lengthy opener, “All of Them Witches” appears to be a thinly-veiled anti-drug song, whose lyrics can be interpreted as a symbolic diatribe about the vocalist’s heroin-ravaged friends. And if I’m not mistaken, I’d swear The Dictators borrowed Richard Belsky’s lead guitar riff for “Minnesota Strip.” Of course, Belsky, himself, seems to have gained a ton of inspiration from the contemporary (the album was released on RCA in 1971) heavy metal riffage of Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi. The band were also known for their elaborate, pyrotechnical stage presentations, later emulated by the like of KISS and Alice Cooper.
Another plus is Belsky’s nasty guitar solos, which are vicious, but thankfully don’t succumb to the period’s typical sin of overindulgence. Side One concludes with both sides of the band’s lone single, “Done,” which are also presented as bonus tracks in their original (tighter and shorter by almost half) mono mixes. Unfortunately, they’re nothing to write home about, aside from keyboardist Paul Venier’s elaborate solo arrangements, which may appeal to Yes and Asia fans. Female vocalist, Lyne Bunn takes the mic on the flip, “Sins,” which she co-wrote with Belsky, and which is also a typical early-70’s bar band rocker, with Belsky’s guitar runs a little more flamboyant this time around. Unfortunately for the band, the single (and album itself) failed to sell and that, coupled with allegations that the band’s manager absconded with all their funds while they were on the road, led to the band’s premature demise. Perhaps they would have had better luck if they opted instead to issue the tender, dreamy ballad, “Wasted Time,” which once again features Belsky’s tasty guitar solos married to Venier’s Pink Floydian, wah-wah keyboard flourishes. It’s easily the album’s best track.
Still, fans of 70’s hard rock may get a few spins out of the epic side two opener, the 11+ minute, “Look Again,” which opens with Venier’s ruminating solo, a la Jethro Tull’s “Locomotive Breath.” And although the setup is rather weak and uncertain, the ensuing 5-minute jam highlighted once again by Belsky’s mouthwatering soloing and drummer, John Fragos’ voracious skinpounding, is almost worth the price of admission.
Overall, the album will appeal to fans of early 70s’ hard rock with that “local bar band” feel. I’m sure we’ve all encountered bands like this in our own neck of the woods back in the day, so there’s a nice nostalgic buzz going for it, although Venier’s vocals could use a little polish – they occasionally alternate between flat and off key. (review via Foxy Digitalis) (BUY IT!)
Stark Naked - Iceberg