Smoke Rise


Band members                              Related acts

  line up 1 (1969-72)

- Randy Bugg -- bass 
- Gary Ruffin -- guitar 
- Hank Ruffin -- keyboards 
- Stan Ruffin -- drums, percussion

 

 

- The Esquires (Hank Ruffin)

- Pat Terry Group (Randy Bugg)

 


 

Genre: bizarre

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  A Rock Opera The Survival of St. Joan

Company: Paramount

Catalog: PAS 9000

Year: 1972

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: double album; no insert; gatefold  sleeve

Available: SOLD

Catalog number: SOLD 4236

Price: SOLD

 

This is a weird one that I don't know much about ... 

The short-lived Smoke Rise (you had to look at the back cover and album labels to find the band name), featured the talents of bassist Randy Bugg, non-performing writer James Lineberger and brothers Gary (guitar), Hank (keyboards) and Stan (drums) Ruffin. The quartet apparently started out as a conventional rock outfit, releasing a little heard 1971 single for ATCO:

- 'I Need a Woman' b/w 'Late Last Friday Night' (ATCO catalog number 45-6851)

The following year found them signed to Paramount, releasing 1972's Dave Blue and Steve Schwartz produced "A Rock Opera The Survival of St. Joan". From a marketing standpoint Paramount seemed to have considerable faith in the band, allowing them to release a double album, 23 track concept piece. With a plotline having something to do with the life and times of Joan of Arc, the results clearly weren't for everyone. Sure the lyrics were occasionally clumsy and the plotline was incomprehensible without the accompanying booklet. That said, backed by strong pseudo-progressive moves, some great melodies, nice harmonies and enthusiastic performances, material such as the single 'Love Me', 'Survival', 'Run, Run' and 'Back In the World' wasn't half bad.  In fact, the album was actually quite heavy, with tracks like 'Someone Is Dying' standing up well against far better known headbanger competitors (imagine Grand Funk Railroad with a brain). Heard in isolation and not knowing this was a concept piece much of this would have sounded pretty darn good on FM radio.  Needless to say, commercially the set went nowhere though Paramount at least made some sales attempts, releasing 'I'm Here' b/w 'Love Me; Survival' (Paramount catalog number PAA-0113PR) as an instantly obscure single.  (The album was originally released with a gatefold sleeve and an accompanying booklet that explained the elaborate plotline.)

 

In case anyone cares, here's the somewhat appalling back cover artwork:

 


That was the original review I wrote a couple of years ago and has subsequently been used by people for various eBay sales, and even shows via a Wikipedia link (how funny is that).  In the ensuing couple of years I've sold five copies of this set.  Each time I've sold a copy I've ended up stumbling across another one which goes into my 'listen to it again' pile only to be pulled and sold before I can get to it.  Well with the most recent sale I went back to the original review to see what all the excitement was about.  I have to admit I don't remember all that much about the LP.  Reading the review it also became clear that I must not have made much of an effort to research the group.  Here's some of the stuff I missed the first time around.

 

It turns out the album was written by James Lineberger (lyrics) and brothers Gary and Hank Ruffin (music) as progressive rock musical play.  Sporting a strong anti-war plotline (Lineberger wrote the film treatment for "Taps"), the story was apparently built on an old legend that Joan of Arc was spared from execution (a double took her place and was burned to death).  The legend had it that Joan married a nobleman, while the musical has her ending up with a blind farmer, only to rejoin the Army; lose her faith in the war; ultimately being burned by country villagers who think she's hexed their cow.  Adapted for the stage complete with dialog, the play was actually produced and presented in Buffalo and a brief off-Broadway run.  Sounds like a fun night of entertainment for the family.  Apparently quite complex and expensive to stage, it died quickly.

 

"A Rock Opera The Survival of St. Joan" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Survival   (Hank Ruffin - James Lineberger) - 3:37
2.) Someone Is Dying   (Gary Ruffin - James Lineberger) - 2:40
3.) Run, Run   (Gary Ruffin - James Lineberger) - 0:47
4.) Back In the World   (Gary Ruffin - James Lineberger) - 2:30
5.) I'm Here   (Gary Ruffin - James Lineberger) - 2:33

6.) Love Me   (Gary Ruffin - James Lineberger) - 1:02

 

(side 2)
1.) Stonefire   (Gary Ruffin - James Lineberger) - 3:35
2.) Love Me   (Gary Ruffin - James Lineberger) - 2:47
3.) Lady of Light   (Hank Ruffin - James Lineberger) - 
4.) Country Life   (Hank Ruffin - James Lineberger) - 1:41
5.) Run, Run   (Gary Ruffin - James Lineberger) - 1:33
8.) Precious Mommy   (Gary Ruffin - James Lineberger) - 1:52

 

(side 3)
1.) Medley:
        Survival   (Hank Ruffin - James Lineberger) - 
        Run, Run   (Gary Ruffin - James Lineberger) - 
        Back To the World (Gary Ruffin - James Lineberger) - 
2.) Lonely Neighbors   (Gary Ruffin - James Lineberger) - 2:37
3.) Cornbread   (Hank Ruffin - James Lineberger) - 1:44
4.) This Is How It Is   (Hank Ruffin - James Lineberger) - 1:24
5.) Cannonfire   (Gary Ruffin - James Lineberger) - 3:40

(side 4)

1.) It's Over   (Hank Ruffin - James Lineberger) - 2:22
2.) Darkwoods Lullabye   (Hank Ruffin - James Lineberger) - 1:42
3.) You Don't Know Why   (Hank Ruffin - James Lineberger) - 2:46
4.) Propitious   (Gary Ruffin) - 1:04
5.) Burning a Witch   (Gary Ruffin - James Lineberger) - 4:09
6.) Love Me   (Gary Ruffin - James Lineberger) - 3:58

 

 

Another interesting tidbit related to the album - Decibel Magazine has a special article on 'thud rock'.  They listed their top-50 choices including such masters of subtlety as Bloodrock, Cactus, Crow, Grand Railroad, etc., etc. You get the picture.  Amongst those competitors this album managed to hit # 18.  Pretty darned impressive for an album virtually nobody ever heard.  Here's the Decibel blurb 

 

"While they might not have been the greatest hard rock band in the world, they are, as far as anyone knows, the only band high enough to think that a double album stoner boogie opera about Joan of Arc was a good idea. And thatís got to count for something."

 

Other odds and ends - drummer Bugg went on to record a string of Christian rock albums as a member of The Pat Terry Group.

 

Stan seems to have remained in music on the production side and has a small website at:

http://www.guitartabrecording.com/ 

 

Here's a link to a brief bio on Lineberger: 

http://www.eastvillagepoetry.com/OldPages/Lineberger.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

BACK TO BADCAT FRONT PAGE

BACK TO BADCAT CATALOG PAGE

BACK TO BADCAT PAYMENT INFORMATION