Sunday, January 23, 2011

Wheatstone Bridge - Bad Connection (1976)

Wheatstone Bridge are one of those bands that few people have any information about. Aside from the fact that the band were based out of Kankakee, IL and recorded this LP in 1976 at Bob Millsap's Ironside Studios in Nashville, there are precious few historical traces left behind. Guitarist, Joe Bright was presumably the creative force behind the band, given that he is credited for almost all of the album's songwriting. It is also safe to say that Bright sang the material, although drummer Kim Berry and producer George Marakas were also credited for some vocal assistance as well. "Bad Connection" was issued in 1976 by Marakas' publishing/management company, SanRon Music. The album failed to break nationally but in hindsight has found a second life in collector's circles. Acid Archives featured a flattering review of the album and obscurity lovers have raved about if for years.

Musically, the band are a tight well-oiled machine. There's a slight british influence happening in some of the arrangements and a nice blend of distorted and clean guitar tones. Tracks like "Bad Connection", "Make It Rhyme", "Dance The Whole Night Long", "Thunderock" and "Nightflight" all featuring blistering guitars and stand among the best material on the album. There are a couple of ballads present as well that lack the immediacy and impact of the heavier tracks. The production is solid and crisp and the writing is nice and compact. This is definitely one of the better 70's private pressings I've heard in quite awhile. I have no doubt lovers of old-school melodic hard rock will eat this up. Dig this sweet vinyl rip...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fyre - Pyromancy (1977)

Fyre's story begins in Hays, KS in 1968, upon the dissolution of midwestern beat group The Blue Things. The Blue Things, who had experienced a lineup change, re-dubbed themselves as Fyre and moved to the west coast in the hopes of gaining massive exposure. The band managed to land a contract with Dot Records and embarked on a national tour with Them, but by early 1970 the band had dissolved with some members staying in California and others relocating back to Kansas. Several years later in Emphoria, KS Fyre were resurrected with a mostly revamped lineup and were packing clubs all over Kansas as well as select venues in Hollywood. By mid-'77, the band were holed up in Leon Russell's home studio tracking their debut LP, "Pyromancy". Upon its release, Billboard magazine were singing the band's praises and expectations were high. However, limited distribution in some markets kept the album from breaking big nationwide and as the 80's were approaching, not much was heard from Fyre. It is presumed the band split sometime early in the new decade. Since then, Fyre embarked on a reunion tour in 2007 and even had their own website at one point before vanishing again shortly thereafter. The activities of the members are currently unknown.

Musically, Pyromancy is one schizophrenic affair. The band dabble in AOR, country, boogie, funk and to a lesser extent, hard rock. As would be expected, this kitchen sink approach does not make for a consistent listen whatsoever, but there are a handful of gems worth noting. "L.A. Lady" is a solid AOR styled track, "Musicband" tastefully lifts from the west coast flavorings of bands like Firefall or Pablo Cruise and "6th Avenue" has great energy and tasteful harmonies. Overall though, Pyromancy lacks the strong identity of the heavy hitters of their era making Fyre a minor curiosity for obscurity hounds.

Dig this satisfactory vinyl rip and enjoy the subtle charms of Kansas' Fyre...