Band members Related acts
- Michaelo (aka Michael O'Gara aka Michael Delano -- vocals,
- Michael O'Gara (solo efforts)
- Seraphic Street Sound
- The Stillroven
Rating: 4 stars ****
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 5774
Mike O'Gara's initial brush with mainstream success came as a late inning member of Minnesota's The Stillroven (one of the best 1960s bands most folks have never heard of).
As is the case with most tax scam label releases there isn't a great deal of information to be found regarding the Robert Pomilla produced "Michaelo". The New York-based Tomorrow label released the album in 1977, but judging by the overarching sound the collection was probably recorded several years prior to that. All eight songs were credited to a Michael Delano (perhaps a pseudonym for O'Gara?), though in actuality there were only eight selections on the LP. The handful of brief reviews I've stumbled across have compared O'Gara to Van Morrison. It's not a bad comparison, though not entirely accurate to my ears since to my ears there was only one track with a clear Morrison echo. Rather than Morrison, I'd argue that on songs like 'Crazy People' and 'Sometimes You Know This World Can Be That Cruel' O'Gara sounded more like a rock-oriented Delbert McClinton. Not quite as rugged, but like McClinton his delivery sported the same weird little catch in his voice that I find quite attractive. Elsewhere 'Naked Circumstances' and 'Lead Me Away' recalled a Dylan who could actually carry a tune (apologies to any Dylan fans I may have offended).
"Michaelo" track listing:
1.) Crazy People (Michael Delano) - rating: **** stars
Kicked along by some nice acoustic guitar, a tasteful B-3 Hammond and a chunky bass pattern 'Crazy People' started the album off with a nifty country-rock number. Quite commercial and could have generated some radio airplay if it had been promoted.
2.) Mystic Rider (Michael Delano) - rating: **** stars
Easily one of the standout tracks on the album, 'Mystic Rider' showcased a great electric guitar that was simultaneously melodic and rockin'. It also boasted one of those pseudo-mystical lyrics that Dylan seemed to effortlessly throw out. rating: **** stars
3.) Slow and Easy (Michael Delano) -
The Caribbean influenced 'Slow and Easy' (complete with steel drums), didn't do a great deal for me. The fact O'Gara vocal was shrill and all over the map didn't exactly help this one. rating: * star
4.) Naked Circumstances (Michael Delano) - rating: **** stars
Opening up with some country flavored guitar, my initial expectations for 'Naked Circumstances' were pretty low. Luckily kicked along by some Al Kooper styled keyboards and a train of thought lyric (that was actually pretty funny), this morphed into one of O'Gara's Dylan influenced rockers. Only complaint was that the track faded out just as it was beginning to gather some steam.
Yes, yes, yes 'Sometimes You Know This World Can Be That Cruel' sounded like a young Van Morrison. Fantastic song with one of those looping melodies that drills into your head and won't let go. One of the album highlights.
2.) Taking Me Away from the Sea (Michael Delano) - rating: **** stars
Sporting another nice electric guitar 'Taking Me Away from the Sea' sported a multi-tracked vocal and one of O'Gara's best melodies.
3.) Keep Me From Going Under (Michael Delano) - rating: ***** stars
The most rock oriented song on the album, 'Keep Me From Going Under' was also my favorite performance. Killer growling lead guitars actually gave it kind of a Stones feel !!!
4.) Lead Me Away (Michael Delano) - rating: **** stars
In spite of the track listing that showed a ninth selection, the album ended with what was the most commercial song - 'Lead Me Away'. With kind of a Dylan-esque vibe (assuming Dylan was capable of singing in tune and writing a song with a driving melody), this one definitely had top-40 potential with another great chiming lead guitar and organ combo. Once again my only complaint was that the song faded out just as it was beginning to really rock.
5.) Gunfighter (Michael Delano) - ???
Who knows why, but while it was listed on the liner notes, 'Gunfighter' was missing in action. For anyone curious, it shows up on the "Michael O'Gara" album - see comments below.
Easily one of the best tax scam releases, I'd go as far as saying this one would be on my top-five tax scam listing. Even beyond the tax scam confines, how many mainstream released can you think of that only have one disappointing performance? I sure can't come up with many. And for those of you influenced by such things, this one appears in one of Hans Pokora's Record Collector Dreams books - I think it's the 4th volume.
This was also one of those rare tax scam releases where there's a clear history. In this case the album had been released in 1975 under the title "Michael O'Gara" (London catalog number PS-660). Technically it wasn't a straight reissue in that 'Naked Circumstances' was dropped in favor of the previously missing in action 'Gunfighter'. How the album album came to be re-released on Tomorrow is a mystery to me.
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