Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1982)
- Mark Pendleton -- vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica
supporting musicians (1982)
- Scott Heath -- bass
- Richard Heitmann - electric guitar, acoustic guitar
- Worth Phillips - keyboards, backing vocals
- Richard Pollack --- percussion
- Sharen Thomas -- vocals
- Jim Tilson -- electric guitar
Rating: *** 3 stars
Title: U.S. Highway
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 3376
This is one of those album's that's a complete mystery to me. I haven't been able to find a single review of it on-line, or any of the reference materials I own. It doesn't even show up in the PopSyke sales listings site which seems to reflect every album known to mankind. In fact, the only things I can tell you about it are lifted from the liner notes and that's largely limited to the support musicians, the fact the album was produced by Pendleton, Jeff Harrison, and Andrew Slater, and the album was recorded in Major Record Studios located in Waynesboro, Virginia.
I stumbled across "U.S. Highway" at a yard sale and was told it was a folk collection. In spite of the lousy cover art, I bought it out of a combination of curiosity and the fact it was recorded in Virginia. Yeah, there was a bit of folk here ('Double Edge Game'), but for the most part this was singer/songwriter material that was at its best when Pendleton was supported by a full backing band ('Stone Chair'). Pendleton wrote all ten tracks, provided acoustic guitar, and was the lead singer. His voice was kind of interesting - not instantly attractive, but over time I've grown to like his dry and ragged delivery. Highlights included the bouncy leadoff rocker 'Astronauts and Boiling Pots', 'Stone Chair', and 'All I Do' (the latter being a guilty pleasure that's always reminded me of Michael Nesmith song). The only real missteps were the needless country title track and 'All Over You'. Certainly not an undiscovered classic, but I've heard big ticket sets that were far less enjoyable.
Highway" track listing:
1.) Astronauts and Boiling Pots (Mark Pendleton) - 4:30 rating: *** stars
As mentioned earlier, dry and raspy, technically Pendleton didn't have the greatest voice you've ever heard. That didn't stop the opening rocker 'Astronauts and Boiling Pots' from being mildly entertaining. Nice Beach Boys- styled boogie rocker with some Dylan-esque vocals and some excellent soloing.
2.) Sharens Song (sic) (Mark Pendleton) - 3:47 rating: *** stars
The ballad 'Sharens Song' found Pendleton shifting gears into a lounge act, jazzy-vibe. Once again, the soloing is what saved the song from oblivion - the acoustic and electric guitar work was exceptional.
3.) All Over You (Mark Pendleton) - 2:29 rating; * star
Completely forgettable country ballad.
4.) The Writer (Mark Pendleton) - 3:07 rating; ** stars
'The Winter' was a breezy ballad that would have been better in a different key. Pendleton sounded uncomfortable trying to get through this one.
5.) February Song (Mark Pendleton) - 3:43 rating: *** stars
Back to lounge act ballad ... Surprisingly, this one has grown on me over time. I blame it on the sweet harmony vocals and Scott Heath's awesome bass work.
1.) U.S. Highway (Mark Pendleton) - 3:14 rating; ** stars
Serious bad country tune.
2.) Stone Chair (Mark Pendleton) - 3:43 rating: **** stars
Powered by some nice Worth Phillips Hammond B3 moves, 'Stone Chair' was easily the album's most commercial tune. Would have sounded nice on early-'80s FM radio.
3.) Middle of Now (Mark Pendleton) - 3:47 rating: *** stars
The ballad 'Middle of Now' was far from my favorite performance, but it was a nice showcase for Pendleton's raspy voice.
4.) All I Do (Mark Pendleton) - 3:10 rating: **** stars
The country-rock tinged 'All I Do' has always reminded me of a Mike Nesmith tune. I mean a good Micke Nesmith tune.
5.) Double Edge Game (Mark Pendleton) - 3:44 rating; ** stars
Competent, but forgettable bluesy singer/songwriter tune.
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