Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1966-70)

- Tommy Brannick -- drums, percussion

- Jack Douglas -- vocals, bass

- Edward Leonetti -- vocals, lead guitar

- Paul Venturini -- keyboards, backing vocals




- The Soul Survivors (Edward Leonetti and Paul Venturini)

- The Swampseeds (Tommy Brannick)





Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Privilege

Company: T-Neck

Catalog: TNS 3003

Year: 1969

Country/State: New Jersey

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5121

Price: $60.00


Call me stupid.  I wouldn't buy a bottle of wine based on a label, but I have bought albums based on a label ... witness Privilege. 


Other than the fact guitarist Edward Leonetti and keyboard player Paul Venturini had been members of The Soul Survivors, I knew nothing about the band Privilege when I bought their 1969 self-titled release at a yard sale.  As mentioned, what initially caught my attention was the fact the set was released on The Isley Brothers' T-Neck label, with Ronald, O'Kelly and Rudolph Isley co-producing the set.  


According to the liner notes the odd collaboration resulted from a Jimi Hendrix/Isley Brothers/Soul Survivors concert at Syracuse University.  Several months after the concert the Soul Survivors called it quits. Leonetti and Venturini elected to continue their musical partnership and contacted T-Neck in the hopes of scoring a contract.  Having recently set up their own T-Neck label the Isleys were in the market for acts and quickly offered the pair a deal.  Leonetti and Venturini subsequently recruited drummer Tommy Brannick and bassist Jack Douglas for the line-up.


With Leonetti and Venturini responsible for all of the material, "Privilege" rocked way harder than anything in their earlier Soul Survivors catalog.  In fact anyone looking for another slice of 'Expressway To Your Heart' styled blue-eyed soul was likely to be severely disappointed.  Interestingly neither Leonetti or Venturini had handled vocals while in The Soul Survivors.  Picking up cvocal responsibilities in Privlege,  Leonetti may not have been the most amazing singer you've ever come across, but he was professional and competent on tracks like the opening rocker  'Traitor' and the proto-punkish 'The Quiz', His performances were good enough to ensure he wasn't a major distraction given the set's raw hard-rock orientation. These guys were also smart enough to vary their sound with 'Circling' and the closer 'Sojourn' slowing the tempo down with a couple of power ballads.  Leonetti acquitted himself particularly well, turning in some blazing guitar work throughout.  Highlights included the fuzz-guitar propelled rocker 'People' and the Hendrix-influenced 'Purple Dog', though George Thorogood should've covered 'It's Yesterday'.  


The one album and two singles seem to have been their complete discography.  Certainly not the year's most original album, but well worth hearing and one of the more pleasant surprises I've come across.   


"Privilege" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Traitor   (Edward Leonetti) - 4:38   rating: **** stars

'Traitor' opened up showcasing Edward Leonetti's growling voice and tasty fuzz guitar.  Image Paul Rogers and Free being born and raised in New Jersey and you'd get a feel for this excellent blues-rocker.   

2.) It's Yesterday   (Edward Leonetti and Paul Venturini) - 4:57   rating: *** stars

The liner notes aren't much help, but I think the bar boogie 'It's Yesterday' featured Leonetti and bassist Jack Douglas sharing lead vocals.  I can't say their voices blended all that well.   If it was the pair, the Douglas was the singer with the flat delivery.   Leonetti's lead guitar gave this one kind of a George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers flavor.   

3.) The Quiz   (Edward Leonetti and Paul Venturini) - 2:50   rating: *** stars

Not exactly top-40 pop, but the bouncy 'The Quiz' was certainly one of the album's more commercial offerings.   Another nice platform for Leonetti to show case his technical skills.  Unfortunately it was marred by a sharp and irritating vocal; Leonetti sounding like he'd just slammed his hand in a door.   

4.) Circling   (Edward Leonetti and Paul Venturini) - 4:30   rating: *** stars

The best things on the brooding ballad 'Circling' were the catchy refrain and Jack Douglas' nice bass work.  In fact, Douglas' bass essentially served as lead instrument on this one.

5.) People   (Edward Leonetti and Paul Venturini) - 3:50   rating: ** stars

The album's first disappointment, 'People' was a plodding boogie rocker, further undermined by some of the dullest lyrics you've ever heard.  Turn those lyrics in as a high school English assignment and your teacher probably would have flunked you.


(side 2)
1.) Going Down   (Edward Leonetti and Paul Venturini) - 2:40
   rating: **** stars

Built on a catchy little Leonetti riff, 'Going Down' was the album's most radio-friendly rocker.  It was also one of the tunes that nicely framed.Leonetti's gravelly voice.   Probably the track I would have tapped as the single.   

2.) Purple Dog   (Edward Leonetti and Paul Venturini) - 2:28   rating: *** stars

Not exactly lysergic, but thanks to Leonetti's guitar 'Purple Dog' came close.  Nice Douglas bass and the song displayed the group's largely unnoticed knack for surprisingly sweet backing vocals.  Wish this one had been longer.   For some reason this one's always reminded me a bit of early Traffic.

3.) Easter   (Edward Leonetti and Paul Venturini) - 3:05   rating: **** stars

I listen to lots of music and sometimes the connections I make don't make a great deal of sense.  That might be the case for the rocker 'Easter'.   With a slinky, blue-eyed soul melody, this one's always reminded me of what Felix Cavaliere and the The Young Rascals might have sounded like if they toughened up their sound.   One of the songs I keep coming back to.

4.) Taking Care of You   (Edward Leonetti) - 3:20     rating: *** stars

While I liked Douglas' chuggin' bass line, Leonetti's vocals sounded like he was struggling through a case of strep throat.   I guess it was commercial enough, but it certainly wasn't the album's best song.  That didn't stop T-Neck from tapping it as a single:

- 1970's ''Taking Care of You' b/w 'People' (T-Neck catalog number TN 918). 

5.) Sojourn   (Edward Leonetti) - 4:20  rating: **** stars

'Sojourn' found the band switching back to power ballad mode.  With a pretty acoustic guitar powered melody and  a heavy, almost molten sound, I have to admit to liking this one quite a bit.   The fact Leonetti used the song to turn in some of his best work didn't hurt the results.  T-Neck apparently planned it as the album's single, even releasing it as a promotional 45, but then seems to have changed their mind as it doesn't seem to have gotten a national release.

- 1970's 'Sojourn' b/w 'Purple Dog' (T-Neck catalog number TN 909)