Grasso, Richard (Richard Grasso1)
Band members Related acts
- Richard Grasso -- vocals
- Billy & The Essentials
- The Emeralds with Jerry Tempesta
- The Styles
- The Tokens
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Season of Grace
Company: Tiger Lily
Country/State: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Grade (cover/record): VG / VG+
Comments: minor ring wear; cut out hole top right corner; four inch seam split along top edge
Catalog ID: 6081
Wow - here's a strange one even for the tax scam Tiger Lily label. Richard Grasso's roots were in early-1960s Philadelphia doo wop. The few on-line references I've stumbled across include groups such as Billy & the Essentials, and The Styles, but I've never been able to verify such. That said, Grasso's biggest claim to fame probably stems from having co-written 'Sweet Cherry Wine' with Tommy James (of Tommy James and the Shondells fame).
To be honest, I don't have a clue how Grasso ended up recording an album for Tiger Lily. I know Grasso had at least some sort of relationship with Morris Levy and Roulette Records - along with Danny Cohen and Gary Illingworth the pair were listed as co-writers on the Brenda Jo Harris song 'Play With Fire (And You'll Get Burned)'. Regardless, the fact 1976's "Season of Grace" was devoted to Scientology founder Ron Hubbard and featured support from jazz all star and fellow Scientologist Chick Corea just made the plotline even stranger.
So, before going on, here's the lone review I've ever seen on this mid-1970s obscurity: "Scientologist jazz-folk ..."
Musically the collection bounced all over the genre map with a heavy emphasis on sensitive singer/songwriter faire ('This Is My Universe', 'Waiting To See the Sails', and 'You've Got Me Loving You'). Elsewhere 'I'm So Happy You're Here' and 'Sweet Cherry Wine' showcased Grasso's pop side, while 'Down Past the End of the World' was a nice nod to his doo wop roots. Grasso certainly had a nice enough voice, especially when he stuck to his middle range. It made you wonder what he could have done in other circumstances, given the tools and resources to craft a more commercially oriented set of songs. He was also credited with penning all eight selections, but that seemed questionable give that at least one of the performances sounded like it was a different group ('Waiting To See the Sails').
- 'Opening up with some pretty Corea keyboards, 'This Is My Universe' was an odd, spacey little ballad. Grasso seemed to be doing his best to sound like Donovan and the bubbling synthesizer sound effects gave the song a somewhat dated vibe. rating: ** stars
- Musically 'Season of Grace' was a heavily orchestrated ballad. The melody was actually quite pretty, with a nice un-credited guitar solo. On the other hand, lyrically the song's mixture of sci-fi moves and navel gazing platitudes ("starting by finding that you are, etc.") left something to be desired. rating: ** stars
- Buoyed by some cheesy synthesizer moves, 'I'm So Happy You're Here' was a bubbly, upbeat pop number. For better or worse I'm a sucker for this kind of stuff ... rating: **** stars
- Too my ears 'You Bet Your Life' didn't sound anything like the rest of the album making me wonder if it was a Grasso song, or merely filler added by Tiger Lily to pad the album out. The song featured anonymous female lead singers babbling on over a throw-away pop structure that sounded like a mouthwash commercial ... rating: * star
- 'Waiting To See the Sails' started side two with a pretty, keyboard propelled ballad that was unfortunately again burdened by some sophomoric self-help lyrics ... "standing on the shores of your mind waiting to see the sales of our relation -- ship ..." Grasso's multi-tracked vocals were among his best performances. Wonder who the un-credited female singer was ... rating: ** stars
- 'Down Past the End of the World' was an obvious nod to his doo wop roots. The falsetto seemed a bit strained, but it was still a nice change of pace. rating: *** stars
- Showcasing Grasso and piano with a cheesy synthesizer touches, 'You've Got Me Loving You' came awfully close to lounge act moves ... The song became a bit more invigorated towards the end, but that change of pace came too late to salvage the track. rating: ** stars
- Grasso's version of 'Sweet Cherry Wine' should be interesting for anyone who's heard the Tommy James and the Shondells hit. In spite of the song's pop structure and sound, it was actually one of the 1960s best slices of pop social commentary. Grasso's version was quite good (the song featured his best vocal performance), standing as the album's highpoint, though it won't make you forget the hit version.
All and all, not a bad entry in the Tiger Lily catalog, though it is one of the rarer releases.
of Grace" track listing:
1.) This Is My Universe (Richard Grasso) -
2.) Season of Grace (Richard Grasso) -
3.) I'm So Happy You're Here (Richard Grasso) -
4.) You Bet Your Life (Richard Grasso) -
2.) Down Past the End of the World (Richard Grasso - M.A. Bennett) -
3.) You've Got Me Loving You (Richard Grasso - Balwin Mills) -
4.) Sweet Cherry Wine (Richard Grasso - Tommy James) -
For anyone interested, Grasso has a FaceBook presence, though rather than giving you the link you'll have to find it yourself.
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