Help — Help
(Relics RELCD2036, 1971/2013, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-11-07In the early weeks of 1971 the eponymous debut by California trio Help began showing up in record racks, a sparkling gem of west coast rock. A mix of period styles and outstanding songwriting filled with clever hooks, great musicianship and superb vocal harmonies, produced by Dave Hassinger, better known for his work with the Rolling Stones. Of course Decca didn’t provide much, if any support, it didn’t sell (nor the band’s even more obscure second album from later in '71), and before years’ end the album was easily found in the clearance bins. The band was guitarist Jack Merrill, Bob Rochan on bass, and drummer Chet McCracken, the latter who many years later would turn up in the Doobie Brothers in time for their One Step Closer album, with Merrill and Rochan sharing lead vocals and all three members sharing harmonies. The Doobie Brothers might be a good reference point as to the style Help was playing here, although it would be the vintage Doobies style of Toulouse Street or The Captain and Me, with a strong rock base, informed by folk and a touch of country, with some impressive guitar passages and a solid rhythm section supporting. The first side of the original LP contains five winners, starting with “For Sale,” building from a simple guitar figure into a full on rock tour-de-force with great harmonies, and closing with the catchy and instantly likeable “Run Away,” which was also the album’s only single. In between we have the folky and sensitive “I Tried Too Hard” and two other nuggets. As sometimes happens, the second side is not quite as strong as the first, but nonetheless filled with some great songs, closing with their funky version of the classic “Tennessee Waltz.” All said, this is one of those ‘too good to be forgotten’ albums from the early 70s, and it’s good to have it available again.
Related artist(s): Help
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more
Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more
Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more
10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more