Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1973-75)
Arace -- drums, percussion
line up 2 (1975-77)
Arace -- drums, percussion
line up 3 (1992-)
NEW - Alan Benjamin -- lead guitar
NEW - John Calahan -- lead guitar
- Advent (Alan Benjamin)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: For You the Old Women
Catalog: LP 2276
Country/State: New Jersey
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)
Catalog ID: 5137
It'd be understandable if your initial reaction to the description 'New Jersey progressive moves' was less than favorable. That was certainly my first reaction to a couple of reviews of the band Mirthrandir. Tell you what ... the old adage 'never judge a record by it's cover is true'.
Mirthrandir's roots go back to 1973 when New Jersey based drummer Robert Arace, keyboardist Simon Gannett, bassist James Miller, and lead guitarist Alexander Romanelli started jamming. Over the next couple of years the group when through a series of personnel changes, eventually expanding to a six piece with guitarist Richard Excellente and singer/horn player John Vislocky.
Unable to interest a major label in their wares, in 1975 the band decided to go the independent route, forming their own Mirthrandir label. After extensive, five day a week rehearsals the band went into West Orange New Jersey's Vantone Studios recording 1976's "For You the Old Women". As most folks would have probably guessed from the band name, these guys were interested in old fashioned progressive moves. Exemplified by material like the opening instrumental 'Number Six' and the title track these songs were full of complex melodies, time changes and challenging arrangements. These guys were exceptional instrumentalists with Excellente and Romanellin providing considerable octane with their twin lead guitars. In the role of lead singer Vislocky had one of those high pitched pseudo-Geddy Lee-styled voices that you either loved or hated (though his performances tended to grow on you). Interestingly while lots of reviews compared them to Genesis, King Crimson and Yes, I'd suggest Gentle Giant was a more accurate comparison. Perhaps not a major point, but at least to my ears, like much of the Gentle Giant catalog, these guys weren't as shrill or outright experimental as Crimson or the Yes family of pretense. Sure, tracks like the group penned 'Conversation with Personality Giver' were complicated and certainly wouldn't do much for garage rock fans, but by the same token these guys understood the concept of melody (check out 'Light of the Candle', or Gannett's synthesizer moves on the opening moments of the extended 'For Four'). That may also be one of the factors that made this an album that tends to sneak up on you. For whatever reason, it's one I've transferred over to CD-R and occasionally play on rainy Sunday mornings. It also passes the 'wife test'. (The wife hates progressive music, but will allow this one on the living room Bose system.)
the Old Women" track listing:
1.) Number Six (intrumental) (Alexander Romanelli) - 5:00
2.) Light of the Candle (Alexander Romanelli - Simon Gannett) - 4:17
3.) Conversation with Personality Giver (Mirthrandir) - 5:32
2.) For Four (Richard Excellente - Alexander Romanelli) - 14:53
In case anyone cares 1,000 copies of the LP were reportedly pressed and this is another one that shows up in one of the Hans Pokora Record Collector Dreams books.
While the band's club dates developed a loyal local following, the album's failure to sell coupled with ongoing problems lining up performance dates (the band handled their own bookings), and personality clashes saw the group call it quits in mid-1977.
Interestingly after the original album was reissued by Greg Walker's Utah-based Syn-Phonic label in 1992 Arace, Gannett, Miller, and Vislocky decided to reunite (sans original guitarists Excellente and Romanelli). The missing guitarists were replaced by Alan Benjamin and John Callahan. The reunited group's played a couple of festival dates and Jersey clubs (the last date shown on their website was February 2006). They also have a bare bones (under construction) website at:
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