Bull Angus


Band members                              Related acts

  line up 1 (1971-72)

- Geno Charles -- drums, percussion 

- Larry LaFalce -- guitar, backing vocals

- Dino Paolillo -- guitar, backing vocals

- Ron Piccolo -- vocals, keyboards 

- Frankie Previte -- vocals, percussion, recorder 

- Lenny Venditti -- bass 

 

 

- Frankie and the Knockouts (Frankie Previte)

- The Oxford Watchband (Frankie Previte)

- The Pyramid (Larry LaFalce and Lenny Venditti)

- The Revells (Ron Piccolo)

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Bull Angus

Company: Mercury

Catalog: SMR-1-649
Year:
 1971

Country/State: Poughkeepsie, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve; promo sticker on cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5752

Price: $45.00

 

I'm not sure how to best describe this short-lived Poughkeepsie, New York-based outfit.  With a line-up featuring drummer Geno Charles, twin lead guitarists Larry LaFalce and Dino Paolillo, keyboardist Ron Piccolo, lead singer Frankie Previte, and bassist Lenny Venditti, they've always struck me as falling somewhere in the hard rock spectrum between an American version of Uriah Heep (also signed to Mercury at the time) and perhaps a less oppressive version of Deep Purple.  I know those comparisons are going to send a bunch of folks scurrying for the next review, but the results were actually surprisingly impressing and enjoyable.

 

LP inner sleeve photo

 

They apparently came together in the late-1960s with most of the members having paid their dues in various Hudson Valley, New York outfits such as The Oxford Watchband (Previte), The Pyramid (LaFalce and Venditti), and The Revells (Piccolo).  The name came from a farm they rented as a rehearsal site in Rhinebeck, New York which was surrounded by nearby Angus farms.  Club dates and extensive local touring caught the attention of Mercury which signed them resulting in the release of 1971's "Bull Angus".  Produced by Vinny Testa, the album featured a first-rate set of all-original hard rock.  Largely written by the team of  Previte, LaFalce, and Paolillo, nothing here was particularly original, or groundbreaking, but by the same token all ten tracks were uniformly strong and enjoyable.  Previte had the perfect voice for the genre; capable of effortlessly shifting gears from metal growl, to higher register squeals in an instant.  Also deserving credit were twin lead guitarists LaFalce and Paolillo.  Speaking of which the liner notes included the following helpful information:  "stereo notes: Larry's the guitar on the left, Dino's on the right".  On a practical level anyone who enjoyed prime-era Uriah Heep was going to take comfort in guitar and keyboard-propelled rockers like the opener 'Run Don't Stop' and the equally slamming 'Mother's Favorite Lover (Margaret)'.  Bet these guys were a hoot to see live.  Another PBR over here ...

 

"Bull Angus" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Run Don't Stop   (Frankie Previte - Larry La Falce - Dino Paolillo) - 4:23    rating: **** stars

Opening up with 'Run Don't Stop' the album started with a blazing rocker that had all; pounding rhythm, killer melody, crushing guitars, and a nice vocal from Previte.  When this one kicked into gear, it really got moving.  Easy to see why Mercury tapped the tune as the single:

- 1971's 'Run Don't Stop' b/w 'Uncle Duggie's Fun Bus Ride' (Mercury catalog number 73265)

2.) Mother's Favorite Lover (Margaret)   (Frankie Previte - Larry La Falce - Dino Paolillo) - 3:43   rating: *** stars

Kicked along by Piccolo's organ, and Previte's snarling vocals, 'Mother's Favorite Lover (Margaret)' always reminded me of Deep Purple - okay, I'll admit Previte's jazzy recorder solo wasn't a Deep Purple-ish trait.  Great subject matter to boot; a mom with lesbian tendencies.

3.) Uncle Duggie's Fun Bus Ride   (Frankie Previte - Larry La Falce - Dino Paolillo) - 4:27    rating: **** stars

The subject matter's always been a mystery to me (though kind of ominous), but 'Uncle Duggie's Fun Bus Ride' sported a catchy melody, some killer lead guitar, and showcased the band's killer harmony vocals.  Very nice.  Shame it was relegated to the "B" side on the debut single.. 

4.) A Time Like Ours   (Frankie Previte - Larry La Falce - Dino Paolillo) - 6:24   rating: *** stars

In marked contrast to the rest of the album, 'A Time Like Ours found the band pursuing a distinctive progressive direction.  Mind you, propelled by some nifty twin lead guitar from LaFalce and Paolillo, it wasn't pompous ELP-styled prog, rather stood as one of the unexpected album highlights.  The song was also interesting for showcasing the band's unexpectedly tight harmony vocals.    

 

(side 2)
1.) Miss Casey   (Frankie Previte - Lenny Venditti - Larry La Falce - Dino Paolillo) - 7:28    
rating: **** stars

For some reason I've associated 'Miss Casey' with Spinal Tap.  I'm assuming that the song wasn't meant to be humorous, but within the confines of this seven and a half minute song the band somehow managed to cobble together all the elements that are now associated with a stereotyped hard rock song - screaming lead vocals, dumber-than-dirt, hyper sexist lyrics ("you're my morning do"), wailing organ, blazing twin lead guitars, awesome Cro-Magnon bass line, and multiple time changes.  And I love every moment of it ...     

-2.) Pot of Gold   (Larry La Falce) - 3:51     rating: **** stars

Penned by LaFalce, 'Pot of Gold' was the most mainstream and commercial track.  With a strong melody, a great lead guitar pattern, and some wonderful harmony vocals, this one would have made a dandy FM hit.  

3.) Cy   (Frankie Previte - Dino Paolillo) - 5:30    rating: **** stars

Coming as a totally unexpected surprise, the acoustic ballad 'Cy' showcased the band's 'sensitive' side.  Beautiful song with fantastic acoustic guitars and it even included a but of scatting.  Damn, wish I could play something half as good ...   rating: **** stars

4.) No Cream for the Maid   (Frankie Previte - Lenny Venditti - Larry La Falce - Dino Paolillo) - 6:43     rating: **** stars

Time to get heavy ...  'No Cream for the Maid' (hysterical title), found the band shifting their standard metal moves to incorporate some progressive moves.  Such hybrids usually fall flat on their faces, but these guys were talented enough to pull it off resulting in one of the album's best tracks.    

 

 

As mentioned before, a really good and grossly overlooked early-1970s hard rock effort that truly sounded better when you cranked up the volume.  Well worth owning, particularly since you can still score it on the cheap.  Also, Dan Clyne's cover art was neat.

 

 


 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Free for All

Company: Mercury

Catalog: SRM-1-629
Year:
 1972

Country/State: Poughkeepsie, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5830

Price: $40.00

 

 

While "Bull Angus" didn't do a great deal commercially, it garnered generally favorable reviews from the critics, leading Mercury to finance a second album - 1972's "Free for All".  Produced by Vinny Testa, 

 

 

Mercury again tapped the album for a single, but did little to promote it:

 

- 1972's 'Children Of Our Dreams' b/w 'Loving Till End' (Mercury catalog number 73313)

 

Once again the extended gatefold cover art was quite entertaining.

 

 

"Free For All" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Lone Stranger   (Larry La Falce) - 6:49
2.) City Boy  (Stepen Stills - Neil Merryweather) - 6:50
3.) Loving Till End - 5:40

 

(side 2)
1.) Savoy Truffle   (George Harrison) - 4:43
2.) Drivin' Me Wild   (Larry La Falce - Frankie Previte - Geno Charles - Dino Paolillo) - 4:43
3.) (We're The) Children Of Our Dreams  
(Frankie Previte - Ron Piccolo) - 

4.) Train Woman Lee    (Frankie Previte) - 5:45

 

 

 

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