December 2, 2008

Bottom of the Barrel

Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush
Tales of the Unexpected

Canada's Mahogany Rush will forever be remembered as being about two steps away from a Jimi Hendrix cover band, but by 1979's Tales of the Unexpected, the first to feature guitarist, vocalist, and primary songwriter Frank Marino's name in the band name (I think), they'd really moved past that (despite the fact that there's a Hendrix cover on the record). Part of it is the time period, as this is steeped in late-70s arena rock and features some pretty heavy synthesizer noodling in the first and fourth tracks. But part of it is the strength of Marino's songwriting and skill on the guitar. Of the four studio tracks here, two are covers ("All Along the Watchtower" and a particularly cool version of The Beatles' "Norwegian Wood"). Of the two originals, the title track is definitely the standout. What begins as a low-key bluesy jam erupts into an 8-minute opus of rock-jazz-fusion wankery. You gotta hear it. The live side is good too, but you know, I've just never been into live records much.

My uncle was a big fan of these guys back in the day, and he had pretty good taste.

Tales of the Unexpected

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