Lewis and Clarke Expedition, The


Band members               Related acts

- Ken Bloom -- lead guitar, autoharp, clarinet, sax, flute,

  organ (1966-68)
- Boomer Clarke (aka Owen Castleman) -- guitar,

  percussion (1966-68)
- Travis Lewis (aka Michael Martin Murphy) -- guitar,

  harmonica (1966-68)
- John London -- guitar, bass, percussion (1966-68)
- Johnny Raines -- drums, percussion (1966-68)

 

 

- Owen Castleman (solo efforts)
- Michael Martin Murphy (solo efforts)


 

Genre: pop

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title: Earth, Air, Fire & Water

Company: Colgems

Catalog: COM-105

Year: 1967

Country/State: Dallas, Texas

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap; mono pressing

Available: 1

GEMM Catalog ID: 5167

Price: $50.00

 

Having enjoyed mammoth profits with their pre-packaged Beatles-clones The Monkees, it only made sense that Colgems (co-owned by RCA and Columbia) would attempt to manufacture a second corporate super group. That said, how many of you remember The Lewis and Clarke Expedition?  Probably few of you. That's unfortunate since the band's sole album, 1967's "Earth, Air, Fire & Water" is nothing short of wonderful. 

1966 found Travis Lewis (aka Michael Martin Murphey) and Boomer Clarke (aka Owen Castleman) paying their bills as songwriters for Screen Gems. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Lewis/Murphey was a passing acquaintance of Mike Nesmith. The connection helped the pair place one of their compositions 'Hangin' Round' with the Monkees, in the process bringing them to the attention of Colgems which quickly recognized their potential and signed them to a recording contract. Produced by Jack Keller and built around the talent of Lewis and Clarke (the line up rounded out by multi-instrumentalist Ken Bloom, guitarist John London and drummer Johnny Raines) actually debuted with an instantly obscure 1966 single for the small Chartmaster label. While parallels to The Monkees were apparent,there were also some major difference; notably the fact the band were all capable musicians and namesakes Lewis and Clarke were responsible for the majority of material. That said, their debut was easily as good as anything in The Monkees catalog. Musically varied, the set included stabs at shimmering top-40 pop ('I Feel Good (I Feel Bad)'), folk-rock ('This Town Ain't the Same Anymore'), vaudeville ('Everybody Loves a Fire'), raga ('House of My Sorrow'), ecological messages ('Chain of Flowers') and Byrds-styled jangle-rock ('Blue Revelation'). Rounded out by strong melodies and tight harmonies, mid-1960s pop simply didn't get much better. Highlights included the goofy 'Spirit of Argyle High' and the extended suite 'Memorial To the American Indian' which included one of the first covers of J.D. Loudermilk's '(The Lament of) The Cherokee Reservation Indian' I've ever heard (coming a full three years before The Raiders' hit). Unfortunately, with Colgems devoting most of it's energy to marketing The Monkees, neither the band nor the LP or much in the way of promotional support. Needless to say, it failed to chart. 

"Earth, Air, Fire & Water" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Windy Day (Travis Lewis - Boomer Clarke) - 3:00
2.) Freedom Bird (Travis Lewis - Boomer Clarke) - 2:50
3.) Spirit of Argyle High (Travis Lewis - Boomer Clarke) - 3:15
4.) This Town Ain't the Same Anymore (Travis Lewis - Boomer Clarke) - 2:40
5.) Everybody Loves a Fire (Travis Lewis - Boomer Clarke) - 2:30

6.) House of My Sorrow (Travis Lewis - Boomer Clarke) - 4:24

(side 2)

1.) I Feel Good (I Feel Bad) (Travis Lewis - Boomer Clarke) - 2:26
2.) (I Call Them) Lies (Travis Lewis - Boomer Clarke) - 2:44
3.) Destination Unknown (Travis Lewis - Boomer Clarke - Jefferson) - 2:51
4.) Chain Around the Flowers (Vandiver) - 2:53
5.) Blue Revelation (Travis Lewis - Boomer Clarke - Hilderbrand) - 2:16
6.) Memorial To the American Indian
      Legend of the Creation (Travis Lewis - Boomer Clarke) -1:45
      Send Me Rain (Travis Lewis - Boomer Clarke) - 1:09
      Red Cloud's Farewell To His Tribe (Travis Lewis - Boomer Clarke) - 1:45
      (The Lament of) The Cherokee Reservation Indian (J.D. Loudermilk) - 2:35

The band briefly struggled on releasing a pair of non-album singles ('Why Need They Pretend?' b/w 'Chain of Flowers' (COLGEMS catalog number 66-1022) and 'Daddy's Plastic Child' b/w 'Gypsy Song Man (COLGEMS catalog number 66-'). They also contributed material to and made a cameo appearance in the film "For Singles Only" and provided the theme song to the film "The Tiger Makes Out".  Murphey subsequently reinvented himself as a country singer, enjoying a massive pop hit with the nauseating top-10 'Wildfire'. Castleman also reappeared as a solo act, hitting the charts with 'Judy Mae'.

 

 

 

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