Formerly Anthrax

Band members                         Related acts

  line up 1 (1967) as National Debt

- Rick Cutler -- drums, percussion

- Jack Jacobsen -- keyboards, keyboard bass

- Jerry McCann -- vocals, guitar, flute


  line up 2 (1967-70) as Anthrax

- Rick Cutler -- drums, percussion

- Jack Jacobsen -- keyboards, keyboard bass


  line up 3 (1970-71) as Formerly Anthrax

- Rick Cutler -- drums, percussion

- Jack Jacobsen -- keyboards, keyboard bass

NEW - Jerry McCann -- vocals, guitar, flute





- Framework (Jerry McCann)

- Huey Lewis and the News  (Jerry McCann)

- Jerry McCann (solo efforts)

- National Debt 

- Tommy Tutone (Rick Cutler)





Genre: progressive

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  Show of Hands

Company: Elektra

Catalog: EKS 74084
Year: 1970

Country/State: San Diego, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 146

Price: $30.00


So here's an obscurity with one of those immensely tangled histories ...   Drummer Rick Cutler, keyboardist Jack Jacobsen, and singer/guitarist Jerry McCann initially started their musical collaboration in 1967.  Originally known as National Debt, the band reportedly had a jazz-rock catalog and made minor headway in their native San Diego before McCann quit to join the band Framework.  Cutler and Jacobsen soldiered on under the name Anthrax.   Their jazz-rock repertoire eventually attracted the attention of Elektra Records, which signed them to a recording contract in 1969.


Working with producer Russ Mill they recorded an album of jazz-rock and experimental instrumentals, but label head Jac Holtzman found the results non-commercial and also had issues with the band name, resulting in the tapes being shelved.  The band's response to the naming controversy was fairly simple - they became Formerly Anthrax which Elektra management concurred with.  Cutler and Jacobsen also managed to recruit McCann back into the band; subsequently gaining permission from Elektra to re-record some of their original material with new vocals added to the mix.  


Produced by Miller, 1970's "Show of Hands" reflected relatively little of the band's earlier jazz-rock leanings.  With the exception of the instrumental 'I Want To Fly', the seem to have taken Elektra's concerns to heart, crafting an album that was far more commercial than you would have expected.  Reflecting a mixture of band originals and outside covers, 


 Yeah   Interestingly, given the album's confusing packaging lots of folks thought the band name was Show of Hands and the album title was "Formerly Anthrax". 


- Initially built on a pretty melody that mixed McCann's guitar and Jacobsen organ, 'No Words Between Us'  quickly morphed into a harder rocking number that gave each member an opportunity to showcase their chops - particular Jacobsen's pounding organ fills.  Imagine a more commercial ELP effort and you'd be in the right aural neighborhood.   I've listened to this one dozens of times and have to admit that after all these years I still don't have a clue whether McCann was scatting, or actually singing non-sensical words.   rating: *** stars

- Ever heard BTO's 'Looking Out For #1'' ?   Well, the breezy, slightly jazzy 'Stanley's Theme' sounds like it inspired that latter performance.   The two songs shared the same easy-going, jazzy vibe.  The track got even more interesting when the mid-section took on a Carribbean lilt.   This one also served to display McCann's attractive voice (though the scat segment wasn't necessary).  Easy to see why this one was tapped as a single.   rating: *** stars

- While remaining fairly true to the original song, their cover of Van Morrison's 'Moondance' sped the arrangement up and gave it a needless cocktail jazzy feel.   Geez, they even added a flute solo.   Won't make you forget the original ...   rating: ** stars

- A bouncy blues-tinged rocker, 'These Things I Know' actually sounded a bit like The Doors had they ever decided to give Robbie Krieger the spotlight.  Nice melody and nice vocal from McCann.   rating: *** stars

- An atmospheric instrumental that showcasing Jacobsen's organ fills and some nice jazzy-lead guitar from McCann , 'I Want To Fly' was the album's most progressive leaning number and probably one of the album's prettier compositions.   rating: *** stars

- Opening up with some beautiful acoustic guitar, 'No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed'  the turned into a nice rocker that reminded me a bit of an early Chicago song (without the irritating horns).  One of the nicer performances on the album.   rating: **** stars

- Their cover of Hendrix's 'May His Be Love/One Rainy Wish' was surprisingly touching, spotlighting the song's beautiful melody with some understated Jacobsen keyboard fills.   rating: *** stars

 The album's quirkiest offering, 'Mount Olympus Breakdown' was a pretty, country-fied instrumental.  Nice to hear that McCann was a gifted banjo player and the song had a nice melody, but other than that, this one didn't do a great deal for me.   rating: ** stars

- McCann's 'Like a Child' was another pretty ballad.  He certainly had a nice voice, but this time around the song just failed to catch fire and clocking in at five minutes, it seemed to stretch on far longer than that.  rating: *** stars

- 'Toy Piano and Goodbye' ended the set with another ballad.  This one coupled a plodding melody with some over-the-top pretense in the lyric department making for a disappointing conclusion.  rating: ** stars


As shown above, the album spun off one instantly obscure single:


- 1971's 'Stanley's Theme' b/w '???' (Elektra catalog number EK 45752)


Can't say I'd really recommend this one.  The band clearly had talent, but overall the album was a bit on the bland side, lacking anything to really jumped out and grab a listener.


"Show of Hands (Formerly Anthrax)" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) No Words Between Us   (Jack Jacobsen) - 4:15

2.) Stanley's Theme   (Jack Jacobsen - Rick Cutler - Jerry McCann) - 3:08

3.) Moondance   (Van Morrison) - 3:44

4.) These Things I Know   (Jerry McCann) - 3:15

5.) I Want To Fly (instrumental)   (Jack Jacobsen - Rick Cutler) - 6:47


(side 2)
1.) No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed   (RIchie Havens) - 3:39

2.) May His Be Love/One Rainy Wish   (Jimi Hendrix) - 3:21

3.) Mount Olympus Breakdown (instrumental)   (Martin Lanham) - 2:07

4.) Like a Child   (Jerry McCann) - 5:05

5.) Toy Piano and Goodbye   (Jack Jacobsen) - 4:50


The band actually recorded material for a projected sophomore album - a live collection tentatively titled "Live At the New Orleans House", but it was shelved by Elektra,  The band subsequently called it quits though they briefly reunited in 2000.  Who knows why (perhaps the public's recent fear resulting from anthrax scares), but the reunion billed them as Show of Hands.