Band members Related acts
- none known
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Bloody Mary
Country/State: New York
Grade (cover/record): VG/VG+
Comments: small cut out notch on edge, minor edge wear to cover
Catalog ID: 1040
Another mystery on Artie Ripp's short-lived and infamous Family label ... As you'd expect from a label notorious for abusing its artists, 1974's "Bloody Mary" carried little in the way of credits. If you trust the liner notes, the album was recorded at UltraSonic Studios in new York with Vinny Testa producing and Ray Incorbaia shown as associate producer. There were no performance credits and all seven compositions were credited to Bloody Mary.
Musically this was decent, professional early-'70s hard rock that bore some comparison to the likes of Bull Angus, Deep Purple, Judas Priest (?), and maybe even a bit or Uriah Heep thrown in the mix. Tracks like 'Highway', 'Riddle of the Sea, and 'You Only Got Yourself' featured lots of decent guitar and keyboard interplay. That said, there wasn't a great deal of originality across these grooves and the lead singer's arch, occasionally screechy voice was best described as an acquired taste. The thing is, these guys were actually quite good; especially if you were willing to invest more than a quick spin to check the album out Yeah, he was a bit heavy handed, but the lead singer was quite talented with the rest of the band showing an unexpected knack for sweetening the mix with nice harmony vocals (check out the opening rocker 'Dragon Lady'). The rest of the band were equally good with the lead guitarist deserving special mention for consistently impressive contributions to the set. Standouts ? Hard to pick them on this one ,but I'd give the nod to the opening rocker 'Dragon Lady' and 'Riddle of the Sea'. As an aside, the album may have been released in 1974, but to my ears it certainly sounded like something recorded at least a couple of years earlier.
Mary" track listing:
1.) Dragon Lady (Bloody Mary) - 5:10 rating: **** stars
Based on everything I'd read, I have to admit the percussion heavy opening came as a surprise to my ears, but once the lead guitar and keyboards kicked in (along with the screeching lead vocals), I felt more comfortable with the collection's hard rock reputation. The opener actually boasted what may have been the album's best melody.
2.) Highway (Bloody Mary) - 2:51 rating: *** stars
'Highway' found the band playing it funky - well as funky as a bunch of New York white guys could get. The funny thing is the track was build on a really catchy melody. It didn't immediately reveal itself, but after a couple of spins it wouldn't leave you alone..
3.) Riddle of the Sea (Bloody Mary) - 4:08 rating: **** stars
Complete with acoustic guitars, harmony vocals, and an unexpected degree of subtlety, the ballad 'Riddle of the Sea' was a major surprise to my ears. Add in some progressive leanings (at least until two minutes into the tune), and you had one of the album highlights. The accompanying guitar solo was certainly tasteful and one of the best things on the collection. The other thing that was funny about this one was that it wouldn't have sounded out of place on a mid-'80s hair band album - imagine something a band like Warrant or Whitesnake might have recorded.
4.) Free and Easy (Bloody Mary) - 5:10 rating: *** stars
The band at their most progressive .... To be honest, the vocal performance on 'Free and Easy' has always reminded me a bit of Jack Bruce (not a good thing), though that was overshadowed by some wonderful lead guitar.
Another track that initially didn't do a lot for me, but eventually grew on me ... 'You Only Got Yourself' found the band adding a jazzy edge to the proceedings with the singer toughening up his voice (sounded like he'd been gargling with pebbles). Another one that showcased the band's nice group harmonies. I would have given it another star, but for the fact it was just too long at seven minutes.
2.) Can You Feel It (Fire) (Bloody Mary) - 5:37 rating: **** stars
Conventional frenetic hard rock with a touch of Santana-influence embedded throughout (guess it was the heavy percussion), and the addition of some surprisingly commercial harmony vocals ... Not sure why, but I've always liked this one. Where's Arthur "King of Fire" Brown when you needed him ?
3.) I Hear the Music Playing (Bloody Mary) - 4:51 rating: *** stars
Opening a song with some classically inspired piano was certainly a change of pace for the band. In fact, In fact, starting out as a highly melodic power ballad, 'I Hear the Music Playing' was a complete surprise. Yeah, the song eventually found them returning to their rock roots. Great lead guitar on this one.
For folks into conspiracy theories, I'd personally ignore any suggestion this was a late inning version of Sir Lord Baltimore ... The fact that Sir Lord Baltimore drummer John Garner has gone on record as saying this wasn't them should put that story to rest.
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