Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1969-70)
- Allen Carey --
- Louie Caridi -- lyrics
- Mick Jones --
- Marc Piscitelli -- lead vocals
- Peter Plumeri -- drums, percussion
- Tim Whitcanack -- bass, keyboards
- California Grassfield
- The Esquires (Peter Plumeri)
Rating: 4 stars ****
Title: Fresh Air
Catalog: ST 5005
Country/State: Thousand Oaks, California
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 4952
This one's surprisingly hard to find, let alone in good condition. Similarly, finding information on the band is a challenge.
Based in Southern California (Ventura County), the line up consisted of Allen Carey, non-performing song-writer Louie Caridi, Mick Jones, lead vocalist Marc Piscitelli, drummer Peter Plumeri, and bassist Tim Whitcanack. Originally known as California Grassfield, they started out playing local clubs and talent contests before being signed by the Minnesota-based Amaret label. Recorded in Hollywood's Sunset Studios, 1969's "Fresh Air" teamed the group with producer Clancy B. Grass. Showcasing a largely original set (most written by Caridi), the album wasn't exactly the year's most creative offering. That said, the mix of pop, hard rock, and occasional psych moves was actually quite good. Piscitelli had a great voice that was versatile enough to handle everything from blue-eyed soul to straight ahead rock, while the rest of the band played with a nice sense of enthusiasm. Ironically, the album opened with one of the band's worst selections - a horrid speed-of-sound cover of The Buffalo Springfield's 'For What It's Worth' ... From there on things improved markedly. Highlights included the taunt rockers 'Faces In The Fire', 'Get Away Car Car', 'Sleeping On Sunshine', and the psych-ish ballad 'December'.
"Fresh Air" track listing:
1.) For What It's Worth (Stephen Stills) - 2:40 rating: ** stars
I'm sure there are some folks who like the Fresh Air cover of this Buffalo Springfield classic, but I'm not one of them. Speeded up and given a "heavy" arrangement, Marc Pisctelli's growling delivery left you wondering if the band had simply overdosed on James Brown.
- 1969's 'For What It's Worth' b/w 'Faces In the Fire' (Amaret catalog number 45-121)
2.) Faces In The Fire (Lou Caridi) - 3:50 rating: **** stars
'Faces In the Fire' was a taunt bluesy rocker that still managed to hold on to a commercial edge. Imagine what The Association might have sounded like if they ever decided to actually record a true rocker. Always loved the heavily treated lead guitar on this one. It was also tapped as a Spanish single:
- 1970's 'Faces In the Fire' (Rostros En El Fuego) b/w 'I've Lost My Faith' (He Perido Mi Fe) (Exit catalog number 2-604 B)
3.) December (Marc Piscitelli) - 4:50 rating: **** stars
Opening the song, Tim Whitcanack's church organ was a treat, giving the ballad 'December' a nifty, lysergic edge.
4.) Somewhere A Mountain Is Moving (Lou Caridi) - 2:30 rating: *** stars
The opening group vocals have always reminded me momentarily of Queen. While it was one of Piscitelli's best vocals, 'Somewhere A Mountain Is Moving' stood as a track that was torn between a nice rock edge and an MOR-ish refrain.
5.) Get Away Car Car (Lou Carrdi) - 2:39 rating: **** stars
song that starts with a killer guitar intro is hard to dislike. Add in
some great vocals and an intriguing title and 'Get Away Car Car' was one of
the album highlights. I would have picked this one as the
Bubblegum pop with a hard rock edge? Who cares. 'I've Lost My Faith' was another killer tune that was simultaneously FM-ready and top-40 radio-friendly.
2.) Baby Lady (R. Kutner) - 3:29 rating: **** stars
The album's lone non-original, 'Baby Lady' found the group stepping into blues-rock territory. Kicked along by some surprisingly enjoyable harmonica (I'm normally not a big fan), this one was another standout performance.
3.) Sleeping On Sunshine (Lou Caridi) - 3:20 rating: **** stars
Not sure why, but for some reason Piscitelli's vocal on the rocker 'Sleeping On Sunshine' has always reminded me of The Guess Who's Burton Cummings. And like The Guess Who, kicked along by some rollicking lead guitar, this showed the band could handle conventional hard rock. It made for one of the album's most impressive performances.
4.) Sailor Man (Marc Piscitelli - Lou Caridi) - 2:39 rating: *** stars
Giving drummer Plumeri a shot at the spotlight, 'Sailor Man' was almost jazzy (kind of a Free Design vibe going on here). The song also served to showcase the band's nice touch with harmony vocals. Docked a star for the flute solos.
5.) I Finally Found A Friend (Lou Caridi) - 2:48 rating: **** stars
The closer 'I Finally Found A Friend' found the band ending the album with their full compliment of instruments blazing away. One loud tune sporting what might have been the album's prettiest rock melody.
As far as I can tell Whitcanack is still in California and remains an active musician. Piscitelli branched into engineering and also appears to have remained active in the business, working with a wide range of acts including Tommy James, Juice Newton, and Spirit.
In 2004 James Plummer's Radioactive label reissue this one in CD format (catalog number RRDC076). Like all Radioactive releases, this one was unauthorized, done without the band's consent. Do the right thing and track down an original copy.
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