Rock Festival/Ride the Wind/Go CD, Import
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It's been some time, but this set follows the BGO 2 CD set of The Youngbloods' first three albums. "Ride The Wind" is available as a stand alone album, but both "Rock Festival" and "Good and Dusty" are expensive, making this BGO set the way to add these albums to your Youngbloods collection. The sound has been "mastered in high definition for 2017" and is clean and open from the low end to the high end. The ten page booklet has an essay on the band and their music with photos from the original album jackets, plus lyrics for the "Ride..." album. With a three "star" rating I'm being brutally harsh--the best performances here sneak into four "star" territory--especially if you remember that era and the band's jazzy instrumental playing. Oh yes.
The Youngbloods' sound was a combination of good time, rootsy, country, folk-rock mixed with a tinge of jazz and some late '60s S.F. hippie strains they absorbed. Always known for the hippie anthem "Get Together" (included here in a different arrangement), the three albums included here see the band stretching out instrumentally on the live "Rock..." and "Ride..." albums. The "Good..." album has more blues/r&b covers along with some traditional/country-ish songs and is probably the weakest of the three albums.
"Rock Festival" is a trio of Jesse Colin Young, Banana, and Joe Bauer with Richard Anderson-harmonica on "Peepin' and Hidin"". The "Ride The Wind" set is the same core trio with Young-bass/rhythm guitar/piano/kazoo/vocals, Bauer-drums, and Banana-guitar/piano. The "Good and Dusty album is the trio (with Young also on tenor saxophone) plus new member Michael Kane-bass/french horn/cornet/tuned drinking glasses/ vocals, plus Anderson again-harmonica. Incidentally Kane's solo album (also on Racoon Records) has become some kind of a collectors item over the years.
A good example of how the band stretches out is "Prelude" and "On Beautiful Lake Spenard" from the "Rock Festival" album, with light jazzy drumming, Young's nimble bass, and Banana's electric piano. But "Peepin' and Hidin'" and "Fiddler A Dram" show the different sides of the band. And check out "Ice Bag" for more proof of the band's versatility. The "Ride The Wind" album has some nice things like the title track (from the "Elephant Mountain" album), "Sugar Babe" (from "Earth Music"),, "Sunlight" ("Elephant Mountain"), "The Dolphin" (a Fred Neil classic never recorded in the studio by The Youngbloods), and "Get Together" is here with a sound different from the original version. The "Good and Dusty" album has a number of cover tunes like "Stagger Lee", "That's How Strong My Love Is", "Willie and the Hand Jive", "Let the Good Times Roll", and (reminiscent of the Grateful Dead's "Workingman's Dead" album) the traditional "Will The Circle be Unbroken".
This three album reissue is a welcome addition to the earlier reissue set for fans (like me who were lucky enough to hear the band live back in the late '60s/early '70s) looking to find these albums at a good price. The band was always a nice respite from all the acid-tinged electric guitars so prevalent in that period. This is easy-going, down home, good time music that also swung at times with a jazzy sound. I only wish the band's last album, "High On A Ridge Top" could've been included. Oh well. The Youngbloods somehow, for me, summed up what the S.F. music scene was all about--a band that moved to S.F., fit nicely into the scene, yet continued to expand musically--yet never giving up that certain late '60s/early'70s vibe.
Also check out the reissue of Banana's '71/'72 album "Mid-Mountain Ranch", by Banana and the Bunch. With Banana, Kane, and Bauer playing a variety of songs different styles. This is one of those albums that never really received it's due because it's a bit off center from the music of the day. I also have hope that Jesse Colin Young's two early albums, "Soul of a City Boy", and "Youngblood" will see reissue soon. "Soul..." has been a favorite of mine since I bought the album way back when I was much younger. His beautiful voice and guitar fit the songs wonderfully.