Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1971))
- Michael Ewbank -- vocals, keyboards
- Billy Jones (RIP 1995) -- vocals, guitar, keyboards
- Richard "Dickie Porter -- vocals, lead guitar, keyboards
- Jan Pulver -- vocals, bass, percussion
- Monte Yoho -- drums, percussion
- Blackhawk (Monte Yoho)
- Butch's Brew (Michael Ewbank)
- The Dave Graham Band (Billy Jones and Monte Yoho)
- The Outlaws (Billy Jones, Jan Pulver, and Monte Yoho)
- Henry Paul Band (Monte Yoho)
- Tall Dogs (Michael Ewbank)
- Those Five (Jan Pulver)
- Wilkinson Tri-Cycle (Richard Porter)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Bootleg Music
Company: SSS International
Country/State: Valparaiso, Florida
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 2598
For an album that's hopelessly obscure, there are sure a lot of online reviews for 1971's "Bootleg Music". The problem is 99% reflect the same 63 word review spewed over and over. Needless to say, that brief description simply doesn't provide a great deal of insight into this collection.
Calling Valparaiso, Florida home, H.Y. Sledge featured the talents of singer/keyboardist Michael Ewbank, multi-instrumentalist Billy Jones, former Wilkinson Tri-Cycle guitarist Richard "Dickie Porter, bassist Jan Pulver, and drummer Monte Yoho. Pulver had previously been a member of Those Five, while Jones and Yoho had been members of the Tampa-based Dave Graham Band. Interestingly, only credit Ewbank, Porter, and Pulver were credited on the album liner notes, which also fail to provide any writing credits.
Signing a recording contract with Shelby Sumpter Singleton Jr.'s SSS International label, the group made their debut with 1971's "Bootleg Music". Co-produced by Ewbank and Porter, the album wasn't the most original collection you've ever heard. The band were certainly talented with a couple of decent singers and an excellent bassist. Unfortunately most of the material failed to display anything in the realm of creativity, or enthusiasm. They just sounded kind of tired ... To my ears tracks like 'It's In the Air' and 'I'm Your Brother' recalled a slightly more muscular Association. Don't get me wrong, I like The Association, but if I want to hear Baroque-pop, that's probably the band I'll put on. So what were the highlights? Apparently inspired by American draft dodgers who were heading North the extended 'Canadian Exodus' had a hip Classics IV pop-jazz vibe. 'Such an Easy Day' was the best of the ballads, adding a light lysergic touch to the mix. Totally unlike the rest of the album, 'Day of Realization' had a sunny, pop-psych retro sound. It was my choice for the album's standout performance.
Professional, if seldom truly exciting. Being signed by SSS International certainly didn't increase the band's chances of breaking nationally. The hideous album artwork didn't help either and as you'd expect, the album vanished without a trace.
Music" track listing:
1.) Citation On Liberty (Michael Ewbank - Richard Porter - Jan Pulver) - 5:22 rating: *** stars
What's with THE MAN always coming down hard on young people ? LOL Wrapped in a pedestrian bluesy guitar and organ powered melody, 'Citation On Liberty' had one of those poor-hippy-boy-gets-stopped-by-the-oppressive-pigs that is very much a '70s timepiece. The lyrics should make anyone over 50 smile when they think back to their own youthful indiscretions.
2.) Such An Easy Day - 2:58 (Michael Ewbank - Richard Porter - Jan Pulver) rating: **** stars
The stark opening section (Porter accompanied by piano), made you wonder if you'd mistakenly slapped a Paul Williams album on the turntable. Luckily 'Such An Easy Day' markedly improved when the rest of the instrumentation kicked in giving the song a light lysergic tinge and it got even better when the band's sweet harmony vocals were showcased.
3.) Canadian Exodus (Michael Ewbank - Richard Porter - Jan Pulver) - 7:40 rating: **** stars
The first 1:20 of 'Canadian Exodus' came off as a studio jam session with several members getting an opportunity to stretch out and showcase their technical diversity. At that point the song shifted into a slightly jazzy ballad with what I'm guessing was an anti-war lyric. Burn that draft card and head for Canada. Imagine The Classics IV without the MOR overtones.
4.) Cellophane Lady / Nowhere To Go (Michael Ewbank - Richard Porter - Jan Pulver) - 3:56 rating: *** stars
'Cellophane Lady' offered up a slice of Firefall-styled country-rock ... Porter turned in some nice and totally unexpected fuzz guitar. The song seamlessly merged into the somewhat more rocking 'Nowhere To Go' which was also highlighted by some Porter fuzz guitar.
1.) Ride the Waves (Michael Ewbank - Richard Porter - Jan Pulver) - 4:07 rating: *** stars
The optimistic, mindlessly happy opening sounded like something from an Up with People song. Luckily the track improved when Porter's fuzz guitar kicked in and the tune shifted into a more rock and progressive sound. Still, itt wasn't entirely convincing.
2.) I'm Your Brother (Michael Ewbank - Richard Porter - Jan Pulver) - 3:28 rating: ** stars
Painfully earnest and easily forgotten ballad.
3.) Tamara (Michael Ewbank - Richard Porter - Jan Pulver) - 2:20 rating: *** stars
'Tamara' was one of those songs that simply couldn't make up its mind with respect to what it wanted to be - boogie track, pop tune, rock tune, jazzy ... Ultimately Pulver's bass provided the song's highpoint.
4.) Day of Realization (Michael Ewbank - Richard Porter - Jan Pulver) - 2:05 rating: **** stars
'Day of Realization' had the most retro sound; in this case throwing a bit of pop-psych into the mix. Quite unlike anything else on the album, it sounded more 1967 than 1971. One of the album highlights.
5.) It's In the Air (Michael Ewbank - Richard Porter - Jan Pulver) - 4:36 rating: *** stars
Supported by some nice acoustic guitar, 'It's In the Air' offered up the album's prettiest melody, but weakened the effect with a sappy, MOR-ish refrain.
6.) Finding It (Michael Ewbank - Richard Porter - Jan Pulver) - 2:23 rating: *** stars
Hum, the band trying to get funky with mixed results ... Pulver's bass took center stage this time around. At least Porter got a chance to blow off some steam on fuzz guitar.
Jones and Yoho reappeared as members of The Outlaws Jones committed suicide in February 1995.
Monte also did time with BlackHawk and The Henry Paul Band.
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