The Age of Reason
Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1967-69)
- Tommy Didly -- keyboards, vocals (1967-69)
- Terry Gorka -- bass (1967-69)
- J. Jenson -- bass (1967-69)
- Bill Manning -- drums, vocals (1967-69)
- Billy Windsor -- lead guitar, vocals (1967-69)
- Danny Gatton (RIP 1994) -- acoustic guitar
- The Fabulous Hubcaps (Tommy Didly)
- Danny Gatton Band (Tommy Didly and Billy Windsor)
- The Reasons Why (Tommy Didly)
- The Second Coming (Tommy Didly)
- The Telstars (Terry Gorka)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: The Age of Reason
Country/State: Arlington, Virginia
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: small crease along lower right corner
Catalog ID: 5955
Pressed in minute quantities by Arlington-based Georgetowne label, 1969's "The Age of Reason" lay largely forgotten until it appeared in one of Austrian vinyl collector Hans Pokora's books - 1001 Record Collectors Dreams. Like anything listed in one of Pokora's books, the album's subsequently become a high priced, in-demand release. This late-1960s release is also a pretty good example of hype and rarity taking precedence over quality. That's not to imply the album's bad, rather for the big bucks it commands, you could certainly find a couple of more enjoyable releases. It also isn't the psych monster some high priced dealers would have you believe.
The band apparently came together in 1967, featuring the talents of keyboardist Tommy Didly, former The Telstars bassist Terry Gorka, drummer Bill Manning, and lead guitarist Billy Windsor. Two years later they were apparently back in the Washington, D.C. area, releasing what may have been a vanity project on the small Arlington, Virginia-based Georgetowne label (the address on the album is within walking distance of my office). Produced by drummer Manning, "The Age of Reason" offered up a mixture of late-1960s FM covers (Dylan, Savoy Brown Blues Band, Ike Turner) and band originals. The players were all pretty good with keyboardist Didly featured on most of the songs. That meant the album was never less than professional, but devoted to covers, side one really didn't do a great deal for my ears. Best of the lot was their opening Dylan cover. Showcasing a couple of band originals, side two was marginally better with Manning's 'The View From Tom Thompson's Cell' standing as one of the best performance. Elsewhere the biggest surprise was their cover of 'Temptations Bout To Get Me'. The result was a totally unexpected knockout slice of blue-eyed soul. Shame they didn't record more in this vein.
If you've bought into the hype, this one's guaranteed to be a major disappointment. On the other hand, if you approach it with measured expectations it'll serve as a modestly enjoyable effort.
back cover photos left to right: Tommy Didly - Terry Gorka - Bill Manning - Billy Windsor
Age of Reason" track listing:
1.) This Wheel's On Fire (Bob Dylan - Rick Danko) - 4:04 rating: **** stars
Dylan covers are always a risky move for bands and opening an album with one ... hum ! Luckily for these guys their keyboard propelled version of 'This Wheel's On Fire' was quite good. Imagine an American Uriah Heep on a good day and you'd get a feel for this one. Quite enjoyable and one of the album highlights.
2.) Stay with Me Baby (Kim Simmonds - Chris Yolden - Pezert - Regent) - 4:24 rating: ** stars
There aren't that many bands out there who'd cover a Savoy Brown song, so hats off to them for their choice in covers. If you've ever heard the original song, then musically this versions likely to be a hit-or-miss proposition. Ditching the original's hard-core blues-rock feel, they revamped the song with a more conventional mid-tempo ballad vibe. Personally I'd stick with the original ...
3.) I'm Blue (Ike Turner) - 4:00 rating: ** stars
Unfortunately their cover of Ike Turner's 'I'm Blue wasn't very good. Reducing the track to a routine country-rock shuffle complete with 'shooby-dooby' harmonies may have seemed like a clever idea at the time, but the results were simply dull and plodding.
4.) Don't Try To See Though Me (N.R. Colbertson) - 4:35 rating: ** stars
''Don't Try To See Though Me' started out with a beautiful Didly keyboard segment (Danny Gatton providing the accompanying acoustic guitar), but took forever to switch into a higher gear. When it finally started moving, the result was a harmony rich and radio-friendly, but forgettable ballad. Must admit those keyboards were sweet ...
Side two opened with a band original - Bill Manning's 'The View From Tom Thompson's Cell'. In spite of the weird title, the result was one of the album's few true rockers. Kicked along by some nice Billy Windsor guitar (and one of the album's few guitar solos), the song showcased a great melody and some nice group harmonies. To my ears this one was also one of the isolated places where the band actually displayed some true identity.
2.) Letter To Home (Bill Manning - Tommy Didly) - 4:50 rating: ** stars
'Letter To Home' started out with some cocktail lounge Didly keyboards, before taking an unexpected turn into a pure country song complete with fiddle and pedal steel guitar. Not sure who handled the lead vocals, but he sounded like he was having kind of a rough day. Danny Gatton provided the accompanying pedal steel guitar.
3.) Bang Bang (Sonny Bono) - 5:15 rating: ** stars
Ever wonder what it would have sounded like had Vanilla Fudge covered Sonny and Cher's 'Bang Bang'? I hadn't spent much time on it either, but their cover of the song will give you a pretty good approximation of the results. Not a great song to 'stretch' out ... Most folks can probably live without this one.
4.) Temptations Bout To Get Me (D. Giggs) - 4:05 rating: **** stars
No idea who D. Diggs was but he gave the band a great blue-eyed soul vehicle in the form of 'Temptations Bout To Get Me'. Fantastic song and easily my favorite track on the album.
As mentioned, the late Danny Gatton played acoustic and pedal steel guitar on a couple of tracks ('Don't Try To See Through Me' and 'Letter To Home'). In the 1980s Windsor served as Gatton's lead singer. Didly also played in one of Gatton's 1980s touring bands.
There's a second unrelated band with the name The Age of Reason. They released a 45 on California-based Ascot Records:
- 1967's '(Your Love Is Like a) Magnet' b/w 'I'm a Free Man' (Ascot catalog number 2230)
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