A Euphonious Wail
Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1970-73)
- Doug Huffman
-- drums, percussion, backing vocals
- none known
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Title: A Euphonious Wail
Country/State: Santa Rosa, California
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: minor ring, corner and edge wear; cut corner; minor soiling
Catalog ID: 4261
The Santa Monica-based A Euphonious Wail considered themselves a psychedelic outfit, heavily influenced by San Francisco bands including Big Brother and the Trucking Company and The Jefferson Airplane. Personally I don't hear a great of psych in their album. Instead I'd suggest they had more in common with early-'70s heavy rock bands like Crow and Steppenwolf (who they briefly toured with). They were certainly a talented outfit, though to my ears they were roughly five years behind creative and popular tastes. Not that it seemed to matter given a financially struggling Kapp Records went ahead and signed the quintet to a recording contract. By the way, or anyone curious "euphonious" means a sound pleasing to the human ear.
The band apparently recorded an album's worth of material with producer Richard Podolor (best known at the time for his work with Steppenwolf and Three Dog Night), but for some reason those efforts were ultimately shelved. The band subsequently return to the studiol with producer Brian Ingoldsby. (Lowell Levinger of Youngbloods fame reportedly also helped out). Built around the talents of drummer Doug Huffman, keyboardist Bart Libby, singer Suzanne Rey, singer/guitarist Steve Tracy and bassist Gary Violetti, their 1973 debut "A Euphonious Wail" showcased a band with gobs of talent, but a little less terms of direction, or originality. Perhaps a holdover from their work with Podolor, I didn't hear a great deal of psych in these grooves, rather lots of early-'70s hard rock in the Crow and Steppenwolf vein. The set had a couple of nice moments, but for the most part was a bit too derivative and uninspired. As lead vocalists Rey and Tracy had decent, if unexceptional voices. Perhaps a reflection o their affection for Big Brother, Rey also occasionally stretched out into screechy territory in her higher registers - check out the bluesy 'Chicken'. The same type of limitations were true of the band as songwriters (all but Huffman contributing material). Taken individually guitar and keyboard propelled rockers such as 'Pony', 'We've Got the Chance', 'When I Start To Live' and 'F#' weren't bad, but stretched over an entire album, there simply wasn't much that really stood out. The band were less successful when they tried slowing things down - check out the ballad 'Did You Ever'. I will admit the close 'I Want To Be a Star' served as a nice showcase for Rey. Needless to say, the album vanished without a trace, followed in short order by the band.
The Michael Hawes cover drawing was interesting.
Depending on how you looked at it you saw something completely abstract, or
1.) Pony (John Brandenburg Jr.) - 4:36 rating: *** stars
up with a nice mixture of Steve Tracy's
blazing lead guitar and Bart Libby's Hammond B3 moves, the rocker
'Pony' started things off on a hopeful note. The good news was the
song had a stong melody and nice hook. The down side is the song
introduced their "group" vocals stylings. Imagine Spanky and
Our Gang having decided they wanted to be a rock band.
of Suzanne Rey's best performances, 'We've Got the Chance' also showcased Doug
Huffman's frenetic drums and stood was one of the album's highlights.
up things, 'Did You Ever' offered up a pretty, country-tinged ballad.
Tracy and Rey shared lead vocals on this one.
I Start To Live' offered up an interesting stab into a mixture of West Coast
jam and progressive moves.
of the blue, 'F#' found the band diving headlong into pure Midwest hard
rock. There wasn't much originality here, but Gary Violetti
turned in some great bass work and If
you enjoyed stuff by bands like David Wagner and Crow and even early Uriah
Heep (I do), then this was going to be right up your alley.
1.) Chicken (Gary Violetti - Bart Libby) - 4:32 rating: ** stars
up with a mesmerizing Violett bass pattern, 'Chicken' quickly descended into
an extended jam session, before taking a thankless turn into standard blues
what you will about the band's limitations, Tracy managed to coax some nice
tone out of his lead guitar work. It was almost enough to make the
bluesy 'Night Out' worth hearing multiple times.
Rey and Tracy again sharing lead vocals, 'Love My Brother' sported a typical
'70s vibe, but the hopeful, uplifting lyrics were actually kind of
charming. It was also a nice track to hear how well the pairs voices
could blend when they didn't try to out-sing one another. Violetti
contributed another nice and funky bass line.
by keyboardist Libby, 'I Want To Be a Star' was a very atypical
pop-flavored ballad which served to showcase the best aspects of Rey's
voice. Hard to image she was still in her teens when she recorded it.
she won't mind the mention - original singer Suzanne Rey has set up a small
Facebook page dedicate to the band:
Following a battle with cancer, Tracy died in 2018.
The album's been reissued several times over the years, but all appear to be of questionable legality, with none of the proceeds making their way to the band members.
Postscript: My original album review was posted about a decade back and has been anonymously copied across dozens of websites and blogs. Easy to spot it, since the original mis-spelled Doug Huffman's name as "Hoffman".
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