mercoledì 30 dicembre 2015

Gypsy - Gypsy (Walhalla Records) 1970

Biography by Jason Ankeny : Progressive rock outfit Gypsy began its existence as the Minneapolis-based pop band the Underbeats, formed in 1964 by guitarist James Johnson, bassist Doni Larson, and drummer Tom Green. With the subsequent addition of singer/guitarist Enrico Rosenbaum, the group regularly performed throughout the Twin Cities circuit, scoring a handful of local hits including "Footstompin'," "Annie Do the Dog" and "Book of Love." Keyboardist James "Owl" Walsh was recruited after Johnson was drafted for military service in 1969; upon his discharge, Johnson returned to the Underbeats lineup, and the quintet relocated to Los Angeles soon after, where they landed a gig as the house band at the famed Whiskey-a-Go-Go. Rechristened Gypsy, they began pursuing a heavier, more complex sound inspired by the rise of British progressive rock, though often compared to the music of Santana. After replacing Green with drummer Jay Epstein, the band signed to the Metromedia label, issuing their self-titled double-album debut in 1970 and earned considerable FM airplay with the tracks "Gypsy Queen" and "Dead and Gone." Larson and Epstein exited Gypsy prior to recording the follow-up, 1971's In the Garden, cut with bassist Willie Weeks -- who later resurfaced in the Doobie Brothers -- and drummer Bill Lordan. Randy Cates assumed bass duties for 1972's Antithesis, Gypsy's first album for new label RCA; however, upon releasing 1973's Unlock the Gates, the group dissolved, reforming just long enough to play the Super Jam '77 concert at St. Louis' Busch Stadium. A year later Walsh formed a new Gypsy lineup, issuing The James Walsh Gypsy Band on RCA to little notice; in 1996 -- once again the sole original member -- he assembled another Gypsy unit, releasing 20 Years Ago Today. While Lordan went on to play with Robin Trower, Rosenbaum died September 10, 1979 after a long battle with drug abuse; he was just 36 years old.

Though nothing else on Gypsy's debut album came quite up to the standard of the opening number, the whole album is enjoyable for connoisseurs of jazzy progressive rock. That opening number, "Gypsy Queen," was the band's musical and commercial highlight, an organ-driven and harmony-laden blast of great progressive pop. Elsewhere on this album, the band blends Santana-like guitar and organ riffs with vocals and arrangements reminiscent of early Chicago in their better moments. Much of this is first-rate, and if "Gypsy Queen" weren't on this album, cuts like "The Vision" or "Standing in My Loneliness" would still make it worth having. The ensemble work is so impressive that it's hard to single out a particular player for praise, though James "Owl" Walsh's keyboard playing is particularly inventive. In retrospect, it's hard to believe that this debut didn't make a bigger splash when it was first released. Gypsy's work has held up very well compared to most albums from this era, and is still a delightful listen. Allmusic.com

Tracklist
01.Gypsy Queen - Part One (4:21)
02.Gypsy Queen - Part Two (2:30)
03.Man of Reason (3:04)
04.Dream If You Can (2:50)
05.Late December (4:11)
06.The Third Eye (4:53)
07.Decisions (8:15)
08.I Was So Young (4:14)
09.Here In My Loneliness (2:59)
10.More Time (5:16)
11.The Vision (7:28)
12.Dead and Gone (10:56)
13.Tomorrow Is The Last To Be Heard (5:45)

Line-up
Enrico Rosenbaum - guitar, vocals
James Walsh - keyboards, vocals
James Johnson - guitar, vocals
James Epstein - drums
Doni Larson - bass
Preston Epps - percussion
Jimmie Haskell - string arrangements

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