Moby Grape


Band members                             Related acts

  line-up 1 (1967-68)

- Peter Lewis -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Jerry Miller -- vocals, lead guitar 

- Bob Mosley -- vocals, bass

- Skip Spence (RIP 1998) -- vocals, rhythm guitar 

- Don Stevenson -- drums, percussion 

 

  line up 2 (1968-69)

- Peter Lewis -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Jerry Miller -- vocals, lead guitar 

NEW - Bob Moore -- bass

- Don Stevenson -- drums, percussion 

 

  lineup 3 (1971-72)

- Peter Lewis -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Jerry Miller -- vocals, lead guitar 

- Bob Mosley -- vocals, bass

- Skip Spence (RIP 1998) -- vocals, rhythm guitar 

- Don Stevenson -- drums, percussion 

- Gordon Stevens -- viola, dobro, mandolin

 

  lineup 4 (1973-75)

NEW - Jeff Blackburn -- guitar

NEW - John Craviotta -- drums

- Peter Lewis -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Jerry Miller -- vocals, lead guitar 

- Bob Mosley -- vocals, bass

 

  lineup 5 (1978)

NEW - Cornelius Bumpus -- keyboards, sax

- Peter Lewis -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Jerry Miller -- vocals, lead guitar 

- Bob Mosley -- vocals, bass

NEW - John Oxedine -- drums

NEW - Christian Powell -- bass

NEW - Skip Spence (RIP 1998) -- vocals, rhythm guitar 

 

  lineup 6 (1989)

NEW - Dan Abernathy -- guitar 

- Peter Lewis -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Jerry Miller -- vocals, lead guitar 

- Bob Mosley -- vocals, bass 

- Skip Spence (RIP 1998) -- vocals, rhythm guitar 

- Don Stevenson -- drums, percussion 

 

 

 

- The Cornells (Peter Lewis)

- The Doobie Brothers (Cornelius Bumpus)

- The Ducks (Bob Mosely)

- Fine Wine

- The Frantics (Jerry Miller and Don Stevenson)

- The Jefferson Airplane (Skip Spence)

- Peter Lewis (solo efforts)

- Jerry Miller (solo efforts)

Bob Mosley (solo efforts)

- Mosley Grape

- Peter and the Wolves (Peter Lewis)

- Sons of Champlin (James Preston)

- Skip Spence (solo efforts)

- The Strangers (Bob Mosley and Peter Lewis)

 

 

 


Genre: psych

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  '69

Company: Columbia

Catalog: CS 9696

Year: 1969

Country/State: California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD

Price: SOLD

Cost: $66.00

 

In the wake of Skip Spence's mental and physical breakdown, 1969's "'69" was recorded as a four piece (Peter Lewis,  Jerry Miller, Don Stevenson and Bob Mosley).  Produced by David Rubinson, the album doesn't get much credit from critics or Grape fans, but to my ears it's quite good.  Part of the criticism is understandable in that the set isn't particular cohesive giving the impression it was cobbled together from earlier sessions and odds and ends.  In my humble opinion the album's diversity is actually one of the characteristics that makes it so enjoyable.  With all four members contributing material, the set bounces between different genres, including C&W, folk-rock, pop and rock, but does so with a sense of laid back charm.  There are plenty of highlights with Mosley acquitting himself with particular distinction - check out the rocking 'Hootchie' and what may be his prettiest song 'It's a Beautiful Day Today'.  Other standout tunes includes 'Ain't That a Shame', the rocking ''Going Nowhere' and the typically bizarre (and disturbing) Spence leftover - 'Seeing'.  In fact, the latter selection may be enough for some psych fans to buy this set.  If I had to find something to criticize then it would probably have to do with Lewis' growing interest in country.  On tracks such as ' I Am Not Willing' and 'If You Can't Learn from My Mistakes' the band actually sounds like something out of Mike Nesmith's solo career.  Elsewhere Columbia released two singles from the LP:

 

- 1968's 'Trucking Man' b/w 'If You Can't Learn From My Mistakes' (Columbia catalog number 4-44789)

- 1968's 'Ooh Mama Ooh' b/w 'It's A Beautiful Day Today' (Columbia catalog number 4-44855

 

"'69" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Ooh Mama Ooh   (Don Stevenson - Jerry Miller) 

2.) Ain't That a Shame   (Jerry Miller - Don Stevenson - Peter Lewis) - 

3.) I Am Not Willing   (Peter Lewis) - 

4.) It's a Beautiful Day Today   (Bob Mosley) - 

5.) Hootchie   (Bob Mosley) - 

 

(side 2)

1.) Trucking Man   (Bob Mosley) - 

2.) If You Can't Learn from My Mistakes   (Peter Lewis) - 

3.) Captain Nemo   (Don Stevenson - Jerry Miller) - 

4.) What's To Choose   (Peter Lewis) 

5.) Going Nowhere   (Don Stevenson - Jerry Miller) 

6.) Seeing   (Skip Spence) - 

 

Unfortunately, things turned even uglier for the band when Mosley unexpectedly enlisted in the Marines.  Given a dishonorable discharge for hitting an officer (not a career enhancing decisions), his military career didn't last too long.

 


 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  20 Granite Creek

Company: Reprise

Catalog: RS 6460

Year: 1971

Country/State: California

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG+

Comments: minor ring wear on cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5159

Price: $20.00

 

Perhaps inspired by Matthew Katz's decision to field a fake Moby Grape (Katz owned the band name), early 1971 saw the original line up reunite (along with new member Gordon Stevens).  Signed by Reprise Records, the group wasted no time recording a comeback album with producer David Rubinson.  Ironically, by the time "20 Granite Creek" was released (the title being a tribute to the house where the recording sessions took place), the reunited band had already fragmented.  That was a shame since their comeback was also the strongest and most enjoyable thing they'd done since their 1967 debut.  With everyone except new member Stevens contributing material, the set was typically diverse, though the LP's overall feel was surprisingly focused and direct ... ah the power of experience.  Starting off with Bob Mosley's kicka*s rocker 'Gypsy Wedding' (far better than the version he re-recorded for his solo LP), the album was also full of unexpected surprises.  Grape fans probably weren't surprised that Skip Spence would turn in the set's most eclectic offering.  Propelled by Spence's Koto solo, the lone instrumental 'Chinese Song' offered up a strange yet fascinating blend of Eastern and rock moves.  Stunning !  About half of the world music acts that dominate today's jazz stations should bow in homage to this track.  Other highlights included Lewis' reflective ballad 'Apocalypse', one of history's best drinking songs 'Ode to the Man at the End of the Bar' and the rocker 'Wild Oats Moan'.  A minor commercial success, the album actually managed to make the top-200 charts, peaking at # 177.

 

Reprise also tapped the album for a single in the form of 'Gypsy Wedding' b/w 'Apocalypse' (Reprise catalog number 1040)

 

"20 Granite Creek" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Gypsy Wedding   (Bob Mosley) - 2:30
2.) I'm the Kind of Man That Baby You Can Trust   (Jerry Miller) - 2:38
3.) About Time   (Don Stevenson) - 2:52
4.) Goin' Down to Texas   (Peter Lewis) - 2:00
5.) Road to the Sun   (Bob Mosley) - 2:48
6.) Apocalypse   (Peter Lewis) - 2:11

 

(side 2)

1.) Chinese Song   (Skip Spence) - 5:42
2.) Roundhouse Blues   (Jerry Miller) - 2:45
3.) Ode to the Man at the End of the Bar   (Carl Mosley) - 3:43
4.) Wild Oats Moan   (Don Stevenson - Jerry Miller) - 3:12
5.) Horse Out in the Rain  (Peter Lewis) - 2:20

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Truly Fine Citizen

Company: Columbia

Catalog: CS 9912

Year: 1969

Country/State: California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: original Columbia inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5280

Price: $20.00

 

Moby Grape's fourth album routinely gets slammed by critics, which tells me most of them simply haven’t heard it.   

 

With Skip Spence having previously checked himself into a psychiatric facility (Bellevue Hospital), the band struggled on. On the heels of a disastrous European tour bassist Bob Mosley suddenly deciding to join the Marines (his military career lasted less than a year when he was discharged after getting into a fight with an officer).  While Peter Lewis, Jerry Miller and Don Stevenson were apparently ready to throw in the towel, their contract called for another album for Columbia, so the trio bravely soldiered on with 1969’s “Truly Fine Citizen”.  Recorded in Nashville with Bob Johnson producing and sessions player Bob Moore handling bass, the sessions were reportedly completed in three days.  The fact the album actually saw the light of days was a minor miracle.  Given contractual obligation albums are normally throwaways, the fact the LP was quite listenable was even more impressive.  The fact it was recorded quickly with the band operating in a ‘throw-away’ mode also served to give the set a live, easy-going charm.   Whereas earlier albums had occasionally included country-rock influences, those influences were far more distinctive this time around. At the same time, on country-rock numbers like ‘Beautiful Is Beautiful’ and ‘Now I Know High’ the band’s distinctive west coast vibe remained intact.  With Lewis picking up the writing chores (anyone know the story on the other credited songwriter - T Dell’Ara?), quite a few of the tracks were memorable, though side two faded somewhat. Highlights included the opener ‘Changes, Circles Spinning’, the jangle rocker title track, and the bluesy ‘Looper’. With little promotional support from Columbia (no single, no touring money), the album still managed to hit # 157, though the remaining members didn’t stick around to enjoy it.  By the time the album was released Miller and Stephenson had both joined Bill Champlin’s Rhythm Dukes.  Too bad they couldn’t have kept it together a little longer since a year later the buying public was clamoring for country-rock bands …  (Great cover photo – the guy was apparently the hired security outside of their Nashville studio.)

 

 

"Truly Fine Citizen" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Changes, Circles Spinning   (Peter Lewis) - 2:27

2.) Looper   (Peter Lewis) - 3:02

3.) Truly Fine Citizen   (T. Dell’Ara) - 1:47

4.) Beautiful Is Beautiful   (T. Dell’Ara) - 2:29

5.) Love Song   (T. Dell’Ara) - 2:22

 

(side 2)

1.) Right Before My Eyes   (Peter Lewis) - 2:02

2.) Open Up Your Heart   (T. Dell’Ara) - 2:36

3.) Now I Know High (Peter Lewis) - 6:10

4.) Treat Me Bad   (T. Dell’Ara) - 2:17

5.)  Tongue-Tied   (Jerry Miller – Skip Spence)  - 2:01

6.) Love Song, Part Two (instrumental)   (T. Dell’Ara) - 2:41

 

Turns out there's at least one Moby Grape mega fan out there who knew the answer to my earlier songwriting question:  "Miller and Stevenson credited all of their songs on the record to Grape road manager Tim Dell'Ara to circumvent legal complications from the ongoing litigation with Matthew Katz."   

 

Thanks to Jennings Falcon (May 2014)

 

 

 

 


Genre: psych

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Great Grape

Company: Columbia

Catalog: C-31098

Year: 1972

Country/State: California

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5030

Price: $15.00

 

Released posthumously, 1973's "Great Grape" pulled together a hodgepodge of singles and album tracks.  Country-rock ('Trucking Man'), folk-rock ('Someday' matched up well with anything in The Byrds' catalog'), pop ('Omaha'), psych (' Changes'), rock ('Ooh Mama Ooh') these guys could do it all.  As a retrospective it was actually a sad testament to what could have been showcasing the immense talent these guys had.  Unfortunately Columbia simply couldn't figure out how to package and sell the group (not that the band didn't deserve much of the blame themselves).  As with most 'best of' sets you cpuld certainly argue with the song selections.  Personally, I'd say including five tracks from the first album was overkill at the expense of some of the follow-up efforts.  Yeah, "Moby Grape" was their creative zenith, but there was plenty of other stuff that warranted at least glancing attention and none of it was here.

 

"Great Grape" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Omaha   (Skip Spence) - 2:22

2.) Murder in My Heart for the Judge   (Don Stevenson) - 2:58

3.) Bitter Wind   (Bob Mosley) - 3:04

4.) It's a Beautiful Day Today    (Bob Mosley) - 3:06

5.) Changes   (Jerry Miller - Don Stevenson) - 3:21

 

(side 2)

1.) Motorcycle Irene   (Skip Spence) - 2:23 

2.) Trucking Man   (Bob Mosley) - 2:00 

3.) Someday   (Jerry Miller - Don Stevenson - Skip Spence) - 2:39

4.) 8:05   (Jerry Miller - Don Stevenson) - 2:19

5.) Ooh Mama Ooh   (Jerry Miller - Don Stevenson) - 2:25

6.) Naked, If I Want To   (Jerry Miller) - 0:55

 

 


Genre: psych

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Live Grape

Company: Escape

Catalog: ESA1A

Year: 1978

Country/State: California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5790

Price: $25.00

 

In 1977 original Moby Grape members Peter Lewis, Jerry Miller, with occasional support from Bob Mosley and Skip Spence decided to revive the nameplate.  Backed by new members Cornelius Bumpus (keyboards), drummer John Oxedine, and bassist Christian Powell, the revamped band began playing dates around Northern California, but almost immediately ran into legal issues when former manager Matthew Katz refused to allow the use of the Moby Grape name.  In retrospect it seems petty since the band responded by playing dates billing themselves as Maby Grope, The Grape, and The Original Grape.  

 

Released by the small California-based Escape label, 1978's "Moby Grape Live" captured a couple of those live shows - dates recorded at San Francisco's The Shady Grove and The Inn of the Beginning in Cotati, California.  Produced by John Chesleigh, the album featured a mixture of new original material from Lewis and Miller and a broad spectrum of covers.  The overall results ranged from quite good (Lewis new rocker 'That Lost Horizon') to fairly routine (Bill Dogget's 'Honky Tonk').  Certainly not a breakthrough comeback, the album seemed designed to showcase the band's diversity and homespun charm, rather than as a full tilt attempt to recapture their glory days.

 

"Live Grape" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) That Lost Horizon   (Peter Lewis) - 4:48

As a full tilt country-rocker, the Lewis-penned 'That Lost Horizon' struck me as one of the standout performances.  The song actually reminded me a little of Mike Nesmith's post-Monkees catalog, though the country-rock flavor benefited from a fantastic fuzz powered lead guitar.  Shame there weren't more numbers like this one.    rating: **** 4 stars

2.) Here I Sit   (Jerry Miller) - 2:38

I'm normally not a big country fan, but found myself nodding along with Miller's 'Here I Sit'.  Yeah, it was country, but with a rock-tinged backing and one of the album's best guitar solos.  Nice.   rating: *** 3 stars

3.) Honky Tonk (instrumental)   (Bill Dogget - Shepherd) - 5:24

The decision to cover the Bill Dogget chestnut 'Honky Tonk' was fine, though it really didn't do much for me.  For anyone interested, the highlights were a nice Miller guitar section and  future Doobie Brother Cornelus Bumpus' sax solo.   rating: *** 3 stars

4.) Cuttin' In   (Johnny Watson) - 4:51

Their cover of Johnny Watson's 'Cuttin' In' was professional, but not particularly exciting.  Miller (think he handled the lead on this one) did his best on the vocal, but this was a standard blues number that probably sounded better in a club after you had a couple of beers.   rating: ** 2 stars

5.) Must Be Goin' Now Dear   (Skip Spence) - 3:35

The lone Skip Spence tune, 'Must Be Goin' Now Dear' came off as pretty raw and rugged, but that was probably a pretty good reflection of Spence's personal state at the time.  Those aural limitations aside, there was something special hearing Spence back in action and this was one rocking piece of music with the whole band playing with an extra spark !!!   rating: ***** 5 stars

6.) Young Rider   (Peter Lewis - Christian Powell) - 3:12

Another country-tinged rocker, 'Young Rider' wasn't bad, but wasn't particularly inspired.  It seemed to largely function as a platform for some Miller lead guitar pyrotechnics.   rating: *** 3 stars

 

(side 2)

1.) Up in the Air   (Peter Lewis) - 3:58

Side two opened with the most straightforward commercial track - Lewis' engaging and thoughtful 'Up In the Air'.  Simply a great song, it had everything going for it including a highly catchy melody, some wonderful fuzz lead guitar, and even some pretty harmony vocals.  Should've been tapped as a single.   rating: ***** 5 stars

2.) Set Me Down Easy   (Cornelus Bumpus) - 5:02

'Set Me Down Easy' served as Cornelus Bumpus' contribution to the album.  Bympus certainly had a nice voice, but the song itself was kind of a bluesy supper club outing.  The highlight was a jazzy Miller guitar solo.   rating: ** 2 stars

3.) Love You So Much   (Jerry Miller) - 3:38

A straightforward country number, 'Love You So Much' was wasted on my ears.   rating: * 1 star

-4.) You Got Everything I Need   (Jerry Miller) - 11:25

While Miller's 'You Got Everything I Need' had some nice parts, stretched out over eleven minutes, it quickly degenerated into a pedestrian bar jam with all of the participants clambering for a shot at the spotlight.   rating: *** 3 stars 

 

Far from my favorite Grape album, but likeable for it's easy going charm and as an album where the band actually seems to be having a good time.  Should be more like this one.  Unfortunately the collection did little commercially and the reunion quickly ran out of steam.

 

 

 

 


Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Legendary Grape

Company: Del Val

Catalog: DV 06

Year: 2003

Country/State: California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5214

Price: $40.00

 

In the face of their protracted legal fight with Matthew Kaufman which had consistently barred them from using the Moby Grape nameplate, in 1989 Peter Lewis, Jerry Miller, Bob Mosley, and Don Stevenson reunited under the moniker The Melvilles.  The reunion gathered some traction and the next year the band released a new studio set.  Also credited to The Melvilles, "Legendary Grape" was originally released on cassette via their own Herman label.  In conjunction with a brief American tour the album was subsequently reissued credited to The Legendary Grape.  (A couple of years later the set was reissued by the Del Val label.)  Curiously, while Spence was shown on the cover and contributed one of the better selections ('All My Life'), the brief liner notes only credited him with 'presence + atmosphere'.  Given the ten tracks were reportedly recorded live in a single take, the results were nothing short of dazzling. Mosley provided five new songs, Miller four, and Spence the previously mentioned track.  As with the rest of their catalog, the band bounced between various genres including conventional rock and more country-rock flavored numbers ('On the Dime').  True, it wasn't exactly "Moby Grape. Part II", but there were several standout efforts including Miller's blazing leadoff rocker 'Give It Hell', Mosley's pretty ballad 'Bitter Wind In Tanganikya' (which recalled something by The Marshall Tucker Band) and 'Took It All Away'.  Even better, though they looked a little older and wiser, the band members sounded like they were actually having fun.  Sadly the album attracted little attention and the band scattered.  Within a couple of years Mosley was living in the streets of San Diego, while Spence was institutionalized.  He died in 1998.          

 

"Legendary Grape" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Give It Hell   (Jerry Miller) - 

2.) On the Dime   ( Jerry Miller) - 

3.) Bitter Wind In Tanganikya   (Bob Mosley) - 

4.) Lady of the Night   ( Jerry Miller) - 

5.) Took It All Away   (Bob Mosley)

 

(side 2)

1.) Nighttime Rider   (Bob Mosley) - 

2.) Talk About Love   (Bob Mosley) -

3.) All My Life   (Skip Spence) - 

4.) You'll Never Know   ( Jerry Miller) - 

5.) You Can Depend On Me   (Bob Mosley) - 

 

 

 

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