Band members Related acts
- Martyn Biglin
-- bass, 12 string acoustic
guitar, backing vocals
- Ian McDonald -- flute, sax
- Ryche Chlanda (solo efforts)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Night On Bald Mountain
Country/State: Raritan, New Jersey
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: original inner lyric sleeve
Catalog ID: 6283
Hum - a short-lived New Jersey contribution to mid-1970s US progressive genre ...
Showcasing a line-up of bassist Martyn Biglin , guitarist Ryche Chlanda, singer Jim Como, and keyboard players Brian Hough and Frank Petto, these guys started out playing as The Fireball Kids. The band's big break came when they were signed by the Passport label which was in the process of trying to carve out a niche in the American market via importing and marketing a host of marginally known European progressive acts. Against that marketing plan I can only guess that adding a New Jersey-based progressive band to the recording roster made some sort of sense.
LP back cover
Produced by Ian McDonald (of King Crimson fame), 1975's "Night On Bald Mountain" has always been a hit-or-miss proposition for me. On a surface level the album's actually quite listenable, mixing decent melodies, with the kind of faux-medieval fantasy lyrics that progressive fans seem to live for, but leave other folks snickering ('Les Cathédrales'). In spite of some of the goofy stuff he was forced to sing, Como was a decent enough vocalist, while the rest of the band were more than competent with guitarist Chlanda and the twin keyboardists Hough and Petto deserving kudos for their contributions. On the other side of the coin, there wasn't a great deal of originality to be found on the collection, though it was kind of fun to play spot-the-influences on tracks like 'Centurion' and 'The Fireballet' (touch of ELP here, bit of Genesis there, snippet of King Crimson, etc.).
- The ten minute opener 'Les Cathédrales' started out with a surprisingly mainstream rock feel before abruptly shifting to moog propelled atmospheric segment. When Como's vocal finally kicked in the song took a goofy turn to Genesis-styled medieval fantasy realm. Musically there were simply too many twists and turns to go through, but I'm sure lots of folks took delight in the song's complex theme. To my ears it was just kind of pretentious and silly. In case anyone cared, McDonald provided the sax solo. rating: *** stars
- With a herky-jerky feel, a martial flavored Cuomo vocals, and waves of Keith Emmerson-styled keyboards, 'Centurion' sounded like an ELP castoff. Okay, I'll admit that Chlanda's fuzz guitar solo was enjoyable. rating: *** stars
- Opening up with some nice Chlanda's fuzz guitar, 'The Fireballet' found the band tripping over themselves in their haste to worship at the alter of Jon Anderson and Yes. Serious, Cuomo sounded like he'd put lots of time and effort into capturing Anderson's weird vocal style while Chlanda turned in a great impression of Steve Howe's frenetic lead guitar. If you love Yes this song will catch your ear. If you don't like Yes. well all bets are off. rating: *** stars
- A pretty, pastoral acoustic number (complete with Ian McDonald flute solo and breezy Chlanda 12 string acoustic guitar), 'Atmospheres' served as the band's tribute to early Genesis. Besides the beautiful melody, the highlight came in the form of Chlanda's jazzy guitar solo. rating: *** stars
- The album ended with an 18 plus minute, five segment suite built around the Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky composed title track. The opening 'Night on Bald Mountain' segment stayed pretty close to the original melody (though the synthesizers gave the performance a slightly cheesy edge). I've always wondered how this one would have played over in a concert situation ... rock and roll Mussorgsky !!! Eighteen minutes and dozens of twists and turns with all five members getting a chance to showcase their virtuosity, including a nod to Claude Debussy ('The Engulfed Cathedrale'), and even a pipe organ segment ... You'll love it, or hate it with a passion. I give it an extra star for the pretty vocal harmonies that adorned Night-tale'. rating: *** stars
So if you mange your expectation and approach this one with an open mind and a sense of humor, you should enjoy the results.
On Bald Mountain" track listing:
Les Cathédrales (Jim Como) - 10:16
2.) Night on Bald
Mountain - 18:55
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