Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1969-71)
- Greg Beck -- lead guitar, backing vocals
- Gene Hubbard (RIP) -- keyboards, backing vocals
- Robert Lowery -- lead vocals
- Fred Zeufeldt -- drums, percussion, vocals
- Barney Armstrong Band (Gene Hubbard)
- Big Horn (Fred Zeufeldt)
- Easy Company Band (Fred Zeufeldt)
- Dixon House Band (Fred Zeufeldt)
- The Galaxies (Ron Lowery)
- The Group (Gene Hubbard)
- James Henry and the Olympics (Greg Beck)
- Ice (Gene Hubbard)
- The Prophets (Gene Hubbard)
- The Rock Collection (Ron Lowery)
- The Surprise Package (Greg Beck, Gene Hubbard,
Robert Lowery, and Fred Zeufeldt)
- Sticker (Gene Hubbard)
- Sweet Talkin' Jones (Greg Beck)
- Valley and the Viceroys
- The Viceroys (Fred Zeufeldt)
- The Viceroys Five
- Wild Turkeys Band (Fred Zeufeldt)
- Wink and Judy
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: American Eagle
Country/State: Seattle, Washington
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: --
I seldom come across an album that doesn't have something going for it. Well, "American Eagle" is one of those rarities. The funny thing is I was warned. There are a handful of brief on-line reviews out there and most of them are highly critical. I just didn't think any collection could be that bad. Well, this was a case where I was just plain wrong.
Formed in 1969, the Seattle-based American Eagle featured the talents of guitarist/singer Greg Beck, keyboard player Gene Hubbard, vocalist Robert Lowery and drummer Fred Zeufeldt. All four members came to the band with lengthy prior band experiences. Beck and Zeufeldt had previously recorded a couple of singles for Columbia and an album for Lee Hazelwood's LHI label as The Surprise Package.
Speculation on my part, but I'm guessing the recognition The Surprise Package garnered as a result of their two studio albums played a large role in American Eagle getting signed by Decca. Teamed with producer/jazz musician Gary Le Mel, "American Eagle" featured a collection of eight band originals and one outside cover. All four members contributed material with Hubbard and Lowery responsible for the majority of tracks. Musically the sound featured an uninspired mixture of country-rock ('Family'), Gospel-tinged blues-rock ('Gospel', and Vanilla Fudge styled heavy rock ('Paper Box'). For better or worse, the focus was on vocalist Lowery and keyboardist Hubbard. Just my opinion, but not one of these songs made much of an impression. Lowrey's voice was grating and unpleasant. Imagine a mash-up of David Clayton Thomas and The Marshall Tucker Band's Doug Gray, with both of them recovering from nasty cases of laryngitis. Add to that, Lowrey had a habit of trying to power his way through songs, only to run out of steam. Check out his performance on the single 'Family.' Every time I hear it I'm left to wonder whether he'll get through the song. Hubbard's keyboards added a Vanilla Fudge feel to the album. Great if you like that band. Not so appealing for everyone else.
Eagle" track listing:
1.) Gospel (Greg Beck - Gene Hubbard - Robert Lowery - Fred Zeufeldt) - 4:43 rating: ** stars
Yeah, young white guys trying to single Gospel normally doesn't do much for me and the opener 'Gospel' was no exception to the rule. Lowery had a nice enough voice; baring a modest resemblance to Marshall Tucker Band's Doug Gray. Unfortunately the song didn't have much going for it and the accapella segments didn't help at all. It made for a song that seemed to go on forever.
2.) On the Rack (Greg Beck - Robert Lowery - Fred Zeufeldt) - 3:05 rating: ** stars
Thankfully 'On the Rack' abandoned their Gospel pretenses, but shifting into molten bar band territory. That putt them into competition with the likes of David Wagner and Crow and Grand Funk Railroad. They didn't have a chance in the competition.
3.) Heading for Defiance - 3:53 rating: *** stars
Well I'll admit I liked Greg Beck's opening guitar work, but then Lowery's growling vocals shifted the focus away from the melody.
4.) Nights in White Satin (Justin Hayward) - 6:00 rating: * star
Why these guys decided to cover The Moody Blues is a complete mystery to me. Why they'd decide to take on a rock classic like 'Nights In White Satin' was an even bigger mystery. To my ears the song didn't seem to have anything in common with their country-rock/bar band moves. Admittedly they stayed true to the original melody, but slowing it down to a molten lava pace that would have made Vanilla Fudge proud didn't do anything to improve on the original. Equally curious, MCA tapped the song as a posthumous Mexican single translating the title for the Mexican market as 'Noches En Satin Blanco.'
- 1973's 'Noches En Satin Blanco' b/w 'Muy Satisfecho' (MCA catalog number 45-I-291)
After enduring The Moody Blues cover, anything they did had to be an improvement ... Rght? Well, the country-rock 'Family' had promise but Lowery's strained voice just sapped whatever promise the song may have had. I found myself wondering it he was going to make it through the song without gagging on his own saliva. Wonder why Decca thought this one had commercial potential and tapped it as a single.
- 1971's 'Family' b/w 'Gospel On' (Decca catalog number 32788)
2.) Paper Box - 3:40 rating: *** stars
Far from a great performance, but given the other nine songs, the funky-rocker 'Paper Box' was at least listenable. Once again there was a heavy Vanilla Fudge/bar band feel to the tune. Extra star for Greg Beck's tasty little guitar riff.
3,) Draw the Line - 4:55 rating: *** stars
The accapella opening section was a loser, but 'Draw the Line' was worth hearing if only for the fact the song gave Beck a chance to actually play a decent guitar solo. It also sounded like Beck was featured on shared lead vocals. If that was the case, he was a much more appealing singer than Lowrey.
4.) My Song - 3:50 rating: * star
'My Song' was the album's most polished performance, but the bland acoustic folk number was made even worse by the sophomoric hippy-dippy lyrics ...
5.) So Satisfied - 5:10 rating: *** stars
'So Satisfied' was an oddity. Complete with count-in, raw sound, and audience noises, the song sounded like a live performance. To be honest, the audience noises sounded like they'd been added after-the-fact. Nevertheless, the performance was enthusiastic and benefited from the stripped down sound. To be honest, this was easily the album's standout performance. Shame Beck's guitar solo sounded like it had been recorded in a neighboring county.
Decca sent the band on the road opening for the likes of The Beach Boys, Jethro Tull and John Mayall, but their efforts did little to support album sales.
For any hardcore fans out there, the group became early proponents of Elton John via a poppy cover of his 'Ballad of a Well Known Gun.' Their cover was released a non-LP single prior to calling it quits:
- 1971's 'Ballad of a Well Known Gun' b/w 'On the Rack' (Decca catalog number Decca 32833)
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