Robb Kunkel


Band members                             Related acts

- Robb Kunkel -- vocals, guitar, keyboards

 

  backing musicians:

- Jimmy Bond -- bass

- Ray Brown -- bass

- Victor Feldman -- percussion

- Gregaory Hammel -- drums, percussion

- Danny Holien -- guitar, backing vocals,

- Diana Lee -- vocals

- Ed Michel -- air hammer

- Howard Roberts -- guitar, banjo

- WIlly Selzer -- vocals

- Stephen Swenson -- bass

   

 

 

- none known

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Abyss

Company: Tumbleweed

Catalog: TWS 111

Year: 1973

Country/State: --

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG+

Comments: textured sleeve; cut out hole left corner; minor ring wear; crease lower left corner

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4333

Price: $100.00

 

 

This was one of those mystery albums I picked up at a flea market.  About all I remember is not knowing anything about the artist (thinking he might be related to bassist Russ Kunkel), or even the label, but thinking the cover (looking like something out of a bad 1980s sci-fi film) was too weird to pass up.  It was even more intriguing given the LP was apparently recorded in 1973.  That said, the LP sat in my 'to listen to' pile for over a year.

 

Can't say I know much about Robb Kunkel. He was apparently a former promo man for ABC Records who somehow hooked up with producer Ed Michell.  Their collaboration saw the release of 1973's "Abyss" on the small Colorado-based Tumbleweed label.  Musically the set's not bad.  In spite of the small label pressing, the set sported good sound quality and some interesting production effects.  Nine of the ten tracks were credited to Kunkel; the one exception being the atmospheric leadoff ballad 'You Were the Morning' which was credited to a 'T. Stockwell'.  Having listened to the album a dozen times it's still hard to slap it with a label.  Much of the set' had a laidback acoustic singer/songwriter feel to it, but the songs wre often punctuated by Howard Robert's jazzy lead guitar and/or Kunkel's percussive keyboards.  'Whispermuse' was a perfect example.  For the first couple of moments in it flowed along as a pretty acoustic ballad before Kunkel and Roberts kicked in at the tail end.  In contrast the title track and 'Turn of the Century' (the latter being the standout effort) were fairly conventional (and enjoyable) rock numbers.  Full of pretty melodies and some nice harmony vocals (courtesy of Diana Lee and Willy Selzer), I can see why it's become something of a sought after collectable.  The only real missteps were a couple of country-flavored throwaways including the forgettable ''Country Blues''.

 


"Abyss" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) You Were the Morning   (T. Stockwell) - 4:15

'Opening up with some relaxing ocean wave sound effects and eastern-influenced acoustic guitar, 'You Were the Morning' morphed into kind of an interesting slice of singer/songwriter folk with pretty harmony vocals and some first-rate lead guitar from Howard Robert.  rating: *** stars

2.) Whispermuse   (Robb Kunkel) - 5:08

A pretty and fragile acoustic ballad,  'Whispermuse' showcased nice harmony lead vocals - kind of CSN&Y with more of a folk-orientation.  My only complaint was the violin solo distracted your attention from the prime melody.  Kunkel's late-inning piano gave the song a surprisingly taunt undercurrent.  Shame it didn't start out that way.   rating: *** stars

3.) Country Blues   (Robb Kunkel) - 1:43

A straightforward country number, 'Country Blues' didn't do much for me.  Nicest thing I can say is that Roberts turned in a nice Telecaster (?) performance.   rating: ** stars

4.) O Light   (Robb Kunkel) - 4:15

The orchestrated ballad 'O Light' served as a nice showcase for Kunkel's attractive voice.  Yeah, it was a bit heavy in the sensitive singer/songwriter mode, but had a beautiful melody that crept into your head and wouldn't leave.   rating: *** stars

5.) Abyss   (Robb Kunkel) - 5:02
The piano-propelled 'Abyss' has always reminded me of a male version of something Carole King might have released in the mid-1970s.  Backed by a full rock band arrangement, this one found a nice balance between sensitivity and rock and roll.  Easily one of the best performances on the album.   rating: **** stars

 

(side 1)

1.) Monterey Parable   (Robb Kunkel) - 4:19

'Monterey Parable' opened side two with a nice west coast-meets-jazzy vibe.  Lots of cool jazzy-lead guitar on this one.   rating: **** stars

2.) Ten Summers   (Robb Kunkel) - 3:33

'Ten Summers' found Kunkel returning to piano-based singer/songwriter mode.  Not a bad song, especially when it kicked into gear (okay the sax solo wasn't necessary), but still kind of disappointing after the previous couple of more conventional rock-oriented numbers.   rating: ** stars

3.) Airhammer Eddie   (Robb Kunkel) - 2:31

'Airhammer Eddie' was the album's most straight-ahead rocker.  If you heard the song on another album it probably wouldn't have made much of an impression (okay, maybe the jackhammer sound effect would have stuck with you), but surrounded by the slower stuff it made a nice change of pace.   rating: *** stars

4.) Playa de Bagdad (instrumental)   (Robb Kunkel) - 2:41

The orchestrated instrumental 'Playa de Bagdad' was apparently intended to showcase Kunkel's experimental side.  To my ears it sounded like something lifted from one of those pompous and dull 1970s-era French art films.   rating: * star

5.) Turn of the Century   (Robb Kunkel) - 4:31

My pick for best song, 'Turn of the Century' was eclectic incorporating cocktail jazz, pop, and rock elements.  Parts of the song actually sounded a bit like something The Raspberries might have recorded with backing vocals from The Association.    rating: **** star

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

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