lunedì 15 luglio 2013

Grootna - Grootna 1972

Grootna was a group based in Berkeley, CA, formed in 1971 by singer Anna Rizzo, lead guitarist Vic Smith, pianist Richard Sussman, rhythm guitarist Slim Chance (a/k/a Austin DeLone), bassist Kelly Bryan, and drummer Dewey DaGrease (a/k/a Greg Dewey). The band acquired well-known San Francisco concert promoter Bill Graham as its manager and signed a contract with Columbia Records. Its self-titled debut album was produced by former Jefferson Airplane member Marty Balin and released in December 1971. It did not chart. Grootna continued to perform around the Bay Area into the summer of 1972, then broke up, after which former members joined with Balin in another short-lived band, Bodacious D.F.

It isn't hard to hear what got Grootna, a sextet from Berkeley, CA, a management deal with entrepreneur Bill Graham and a contract with Columbia Records negotiated by company president Clive Davis. Columbia took a major hit in the fall of 1970 when Janis Joplin died, even though her posthumously released LP, Pearl, became a major success. Joplin, of course, had emerged from the Bay Area band Big Brother & the Holding Company, and Grootna has obvious similarities to it. The group has a loose, eclectic style typical of San Francisco-associated psychedelic acts, with tastes of rock, blues, and country melded in a sense of improvisation heard in lengthy solos from lead guitarist Vic Smith and pianist Richard Sussman. And, in Anna Rizzo, who sings lead on every track except "Road Fever," Grootna has its own Joplin clone. She even tackles a Bessie Smith number, "Young Woman Blues," and a song written by Bob Neuwirth, who provided Joplin with "Mercedes Benz" on Pearl. But, at least on the evidence of this debut album, Rizzo is not the next Joplin, even though she has a strong, effective voice. The songs largely serve as vehicles for the instrumental work, and they usually sound like they could have been much longer. Grootna is also, in an odd way, overshadowed by someone who isn't actually heard on the album itself. The producer is Marty Balin (his actual credit reads, "seduced by"), and this marks his first work on a record since his official departure from Jefferson Airplane, the band he founded. Balin's influence is not strongly felt on Grootna, at least in the sense that the album never sounds much like Jefferson Airplane, but some people will purchase it on the strength of his name and may be disappointed.

01.I'm Funky - 5:30
02.Road Fever - 5:20
03.Going to Canada - 4:19
04.Waitin' for My Ship - 5:07
05.That's What You Get - 4:29
06.Full Time Woman - 4:30
07.Young Woman's Blues - 3:47
08.Customs (Is It All Over?) - 3:47
09.Your Grandmother Loves You/IShe It - 5:52

Richard Sussman - Piano
Anna Rizzo - Vocals, Finger Snaps
Vic Smith - Lead Guitar, Bottleneck Guitar, Vocals
Gregory Leroy Dewey DaGreaze - Drums, Vocals
Kelly Bryan - Bass
Allen "Slim" Chance - Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Vocals

Guest Musicians
Marty Balin - Voices
Jack Bonus - Saxophone Horn Section
Terry Adams - Strings
Carol Garnett - Strings
Michael Lafferty - Trombone
Bennett Friedman - Clarinet

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