Clean Living


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1972-73)

- Timothy Griffin - drums, percussion

- Robert "Tex" LaMountain -- rhythm guitar

- Robert LaPalm (RIP) -- lead guitar, vocals

- Norman Schell (RIP 2020) -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Frank Shaw -- bass

- Elliot Sherman -- keyboards

 

  supporting musicians:

- K.P. Burke -- harmonica

- Paul Lambert (RIP 2004) -- pedal steel guitar

 

  line up 2 (1973)

- Timothy Griffin - drums, percussion

- Rupert "Tex" LaMountain -- rhythm guitar

NEW - Guillaume Palm -- fiddle

- Robert LaPalm (RIP) -- guitar

NEW - Mike Mandel -- keyboards

NEW - Tim Pitt -- guitar

NEW - Jeffrey Potter (aka Jeffrey Halford) -- keyboards, harmonica,

   percussion

- Norman Schell (RIP 2020) -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Frank Shaw -- bass

 

 

 

Bold (Timothy Griffin and Bob LaPalm)

- Jeffrey Halford (Jeffrey Potter)

- Pat and Tex LaMountain

- Orpheus (Elliot Sherman)

- Martin, McKay and Schell)

- Norman Schell  (solo efforts)

- Norman Schell and Youth Well Spent

 

 

 


 

Genre: country-rock

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  Clean Living

Company: Vanguard

Catalog: VSD-79318
Year:
 1972

Country/State: Amherst, Massachusetts

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG+

Comments: promo stamp on cover

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD 6078

Price: SOLD $15.00

 

Drummer Timothy Griffin and guitarist Robert LaPalm had been founding members of the Springfield, Massachusetts-based band Bold.  When that group called it quits in the early 1970s, they continued their musical partnership in Clean Living.

 

Unlike the earlier Bold, Clean Living found the band now featuring rhythm guitarist Robert "Tex" LaMountain, rhythm guitarist Norman Schell, bassist Frank Shaw and keyboardist Elliot Sherman opting for a mixture of singer/songwriter and country-rock.  Produced by Maynard Solomon, 1972's "Clean Living"  showcased three lead singers in the form of LaMountain, Schell and Shaw.  Each brought a different vibe to the album giving them a much needed diversity.  In case anyone cared, Schell was the best of the three singers.  Anyhow, that diversity rose to the top in the form of the novelty tune 'In Heaven There Is No Beer'.  Totally unlike the rest of their repertoire, naturally it was the song people wanted to hear.   Even though I'm not a gigantic country-rock fan, I have to admit I found most of the performances to be quite good.  Even something as plain as 'Price I Pay' was worth hearing.  There were several awesome tunes on the album, including the autobiographical 'Charles Street (In the Morning)', the instrumental 'Congressional Alley' and 'Jesus Is My Subway Line'.  Ultimately they lacked anything to distinguish them from the flood of competitors and their musical niche made them too country for rock fans and too rock for country fans.  That was a perfect recipe for commercial obscurity.      

 

"Clean Living" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Charles Street (In the Morning)   (Norman Schell) - 3:17  rating: **** stars

Apparently an autobiographical reminiscence of the hard times they encountered as musicians (yeah, not exactly the most original topic), say what you will about the album, there was no denying 'Charles Street (In the Morning)' was a beautiful and touching ballad.  He wrote it so I'm guessing Schell handled the lead vocals and his performance was wonderful.  Pedal steel guitar for people who don't like pedal steel.  One of the album highlights and sad that it was floated as a single.

2.) Jubals Blues Again  (Norman Schell) - 4:07  rating: *** stars

I was surprised at how much I liked the Band-styled mid-tempo country-rocker 'Jubals' Blues Again'.  The song had a nice lead vocal with the band displaying a nice knack for backing harmonies.  Ah, those hippie chicks will get you every time ...

3.) Sweet Little Sixteen   (Chuck Berry) - 2:50   rating: * star

While I'd love to say something nice about their cover of the Chuck Berry chestnut 'Sweet Little Sixteen', it was a pretty plain and pedestrian version.

4.) Price I Pay  (Norman Schell) - 3:36   rating: ** stars

With Schell and Shaw sharing lead vocals, 'Price I Pay' was another pretty acoustic ballad.  In spite of some nice acoustic finger picking, this one suffered from dreaded singer/songwriter hyper-sensitivity.  Perfect for some small coffee house packed full of over-caffinated English majors. 

5.) Congress Alley (instrumental)   (Steve Martin) - 3:03   rating: **** stars

Penned by Steve Martin (wonder if it was the comedian), the instrumental 'Congress Alley' was unlike anything else on the album.  A slinky rocker kicked along by LaPalm's Telecaster and Sheman's jazzy keyboards, you were left to wonder why they didn't record more stuff in this vein.

6.) Jesus Is My Thing   (Norman Schell - Frank Shaw - Anthony Rubino) - 2:51  rating: ** stars

I have no idea if it was meant to be a serious statement, or a joke, but 'Jesus Is My Thing' was a straight forward county number showcasing Paul Lambert's pedal steel guitar.    

 

(side 2)
1.) Backwoods Girl   (Norman Schell) - 3:34
  rating: ** stars

'Backwoods Girl' was another pretty, country-tinged ballad with some great harmony vocals.  Given the lyrics, you were left to wonder why the song hadn't been titled 'Shenandoah'.     

2.) Listen To the Music   (Robert La Mountain) - 2:50  rating: ** stars

One of three tracks featuring LaMountain on lead vocals, 'Listen To the Music' was an okay country-rocker.  Easy to picture someone like John Denver singing this one which may limit it's appeal.     

3.) It Takes a Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry   (Bob Dylan) - 3;23  rating: *** stars

Having heard so many crappy covers of Dylan's 'It Takes a Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry' I didn't have very high expectations for this one.  Perhaps that's the reason I was pleasantly surprised by their laconic, bluesy version.  It certainly won't change anyone's life, but stood as one of the album's better performances.     

4.) In Heaven There Is No Beer   (Ralph Siegel - Ernest Neubach) - 3:47   rating: **** stars

Okay, I'll admit it.  Nothing to be ashamed of ... 'In Heaven There Is No Beer' was one of the first singles I ever bought and I still own it.   Admittedly it was a novelty tune and I bought it without any knowledge of who Clean Living were.  Yes, it was almost a polka, but as someone who enjoys a good, cold brew this one's actually got a place of honor on my jukebox.   Prost ...   I gave it an extra star just for the sense of joy the performance exudes.   The album's first single:

- 1972's 'In Heaven There Is No Beer' b/w 'Backwoods Girl' (Vanguard catalog number 35162)

5.) Jesus Is My Subway Line   (Alan Rotman) - 1:55   rating: **** stars

Even if you didn't like the genre, the acappella 'Jesus Is My Subway Line' was simply a stunning performance.  Nothing more to say about it.   

6.) Waterfall / Killers  (Dan Velike - David Carron) -   rating: ** stars

The medley 'Waterfall / Killers' found the band taking a stab at social commentary.  Admirable, but not particularly enjoyable.  

 

 

Reflecting the band's second line-up, YouTube has a fascinating 30 minutes clip of  a 1975 performance at the University of New Hampshire.   Clean Living - A Time For Music University of New Hampshire March 13, 1975 - YouTube

 

 

 

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