Valhalla


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1969)

- Rick Ambrose -- bass, guitar, backing vocals

- Bob Hulling -- vocals, percussion

- Don Howard Krantz (aka Don Howard) -- lead guitar, bass

- Eddie Livingston -- drums, percussion

- Mark Mangold - vocals, keyboards

 

 

- American Tears (Mark Mangold)

- Drive She Said (Mark Mangold)

- Flesh and Blood (Mark Mangold)

- The Don Howard Band (Don Krantz)

- Jewel (Rick Ambrose)

- Mark Mangold (solo efforts)

- Mystic Healer (Mark Mangold)

- The Radiant (Mark Mangold)

- The Sign (Mark Mangold)

- Touch (Mark Mangold)

- Yesterday's Children (Bob Hulling and Don Krantz)

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Valhalla

Company: United Artists

Catalog: UAS 6730
Year:
 1969

Country/State: Long Island, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor sleeve wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1466

Price: $50.00

 

Led by singer/keyboardist Mark Mangold, Valhalla featured the talents of bassist Rick Ambrose, percussionist Bob Hulling, guitarist Don Krantz, and drummer Eddie Livingston.  They apparently started out as a cover band playing Long Island clubs, opening for name groups such as John Sebastian , The Buddy Miles Express, and Tony William\'s Lifetime.  Manager Jim Fowley pressured the band to start writing and performing their own material.  Spotted by a United Artists A&R man,  they were signed by the label, following a string of f late-'60s New York based bands who signed major label recording deals.  

 

 I found an on line posting where Krantz provided a bit of the band's history:

 

The roots of Valhalla came from a band called Yesterdays Children  [not the same outfit that recorded an album on the Map City label] on Pickwick Records [the single was actually released on the Pickwick affiliated Showcase label]. Don Krantz the guitar player in Valhalla and  Bobby Hulling the lead singer recorded two songs for Pickwick Records in the mid 1960's.  You can find these tunes on Youtube.  Don , Mark and  Bobby got together and brought in Rick Ambrose on bass & Eddie Livingston drums to form Euphoria which finally became Valhalla. We signed a deal with United Artists after our manager Jim Foley set up a showcase in NYC for many top record labels.

 

  

- 1966's 'Wanna Be with You' b/w 'Feelings' (Showcase catalog number SH 9812-A/B)

 

Released in 1969, "Valhalla" teamed the band with producers Jim Foley and Al Levine. Recorded quickly (most cuts in one or two takes), and with minimal investment, be warned the sound's a bit flat and muddy, but crank up the volume and you'll quickly get past the sonic shortcomings.  Interestingly, a couple of brief on-line reviews labeled the band as symphonic rockers and a quick scan of song titles like 'Conceit', 'Conversations', and 'Overseas Symphony' would certainly lend some credence to that thought.  In the interests of fairness, I'd suggest potential buyers think more along the lines of a musical mash-up of Vanilla Fudge and Procol Harum angst.  That kind of intense keyboard and guitar heavy combination would provide a better feel for the band's overall sound.  Admittedly they were a bit more versatile and subtle than either the Fudge (no ponderous psychedelic rearrangements of popular hits), or Procol Harum (no attempts at writing the great modern novel).  Coupled with occasional headlong forays into more commercial territory (the ballad 'Conversations'), Fudge and Procol haters might want to give the album a shot before simply writing the band off.  With Mangold responsible for the majority of the material (Ambrose and Krantz both contributed to the songwriting duties), the collection had a dense, self-important feel that some folks will find immensely appealing.  Others will find it ponderous and plodding.  I'll admit to originally being with the latter crew, but having given the collection a couple of spins, the  ten tunes grow on you.  Powered by Mangold's stabbing Hammond and Leslie speakers, Frantz's heavy, sustained guitar chords, and Livingston's energetic drumming, they weren't the most original outfit you've ever heard, but they were enthusiastic players, at their best when they dropped the pretentious edges and went for a straight-ahead rock attack - check out The Doors-influenced 'Heads Are Free' and  the bluesy jam  I'm not Askin'''. 

An album that will likely appeal to any guy who is still 17 years old in their hearts and souls  For anyone curious about the band, guitarist Krantz (aka Don Howard), has uploaded several of the songs on YouTube.

 

 

"Valhalla" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Hard Times  (Mark Mangold) - 4:24

Symphonic rock ?   I don't think so.  Perhaps sludge rock ?   'Hard Times' encapsulated the band's "heavy" sound.  Powered by the combination of Mangold's Hammond organ and Krantz's crushing guitar, 'Hard Times' definitely had a late-'60s vibe that folks will either love, or detest.  I'll readily admit it took me a couple of spins to get the song's brutish charms.   rating: *** stars

2.) Conceit   (Don Krantz - Mark Mangold) - 4:38

One of the album's most melodic efforts, 'Conceit' found the band taking a stab at a heartfelt ballad.   Nice.   rating: **** stars

3.) Ladies In Waiting  (Mark Mangold) - 3:57

Opening with some "churchy" organ, 'Ladies In Waiting' was another tuneful ballad that was notable for throttling back on the "heavy" sound and demonstrating these guys could actually turn in a surprisingly mainstream and commercial number.  rating: **** stars

4.) I'm Not Askin'   (Don Krantz - Rick Ambrose - Mark Mangold) - 6:10

Mangold's stabbing organ, Krantz's thick, sustained guitar, and Livingston's frenetic drumming captured the band at their "heaviest" on the bluesy-rocker 'I'm Not Asking'.  Okay, it was blues-rock, but Bob Hulling percussion added kind of a mild Santana flavor to the mix.  While it wasn't a particularly sophisticated or original tune; imagine them recording a during a stoned, late night jam session, powered by some of Krantz's best work, the extended tune actually ended up generating quite a bit of energy.   rating: **** stars  

5.) Deacon   (Mark Mangold) - 4:16

What ?  Who put on the Dean Martin album when I wasn't looking ?   Talk about an abrupt change in direction ...   With a schmaltzy, heavily orchestrated, mildly lysergic vibe, 'Deacon' literally sounded like a lounge act trying to trot out their freak beat credentials.    Totally strange.  Totally bad.  Totally engrossing.   rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Heads Are Free   (Mark Mangold) - 3:45

One of the few tunes that opened up spotlighting Krantz's guitar and Rick Ambrose's tuneful bass lines,, 'Heads Are Free' was interesting for showcasing a sound that recalled The Doors at their most commercial.   Not sure who sang this one, but it made for one of the album's best performances and could have been a decent single.   rating: **** stars

2.) Roof Top Man   (Mark Mangold) - 4:04

And just when you'd started to acclimate to their patented heavy sound, along comes the jazzy 'Roof Top Man'.   Well, jazzy in a heavy rock kind of way.   LOL.   Another surprising and enjoyable change in direction.   rating: *** stars

3.) JBT   (Mark Mangold - Rick Ambrose) - 5:33

Probably the album's most progressive song, 'JBT' had a nice, somewhat haunting melody and finally gave Ambrose a shot at a bass solo.   Another album highlight.  rating: **** stars

4.) Conversations   (Mark Mangold) - 3:21

A surprisingly MOR-ish slice of pop.   Yeah, the lyrics were a bit over-the-top and navel gazing, but it had a very commercial feel.   rating: *** stars

5.) Overseas Symphony   (Mark Mangold) - 6:14

 

 

Krantz formed The Don Howard Band and released a mid-'90s album "Poets Road" on the Sequa Records label. He's still playing and teaching guitar in upstate New York.

 

 

Mangold went on to play in a string of '70s and '80s bands and is still very active in music. He has a website at: http://markmangold.org/  You can also find a lengthy 2011 interview hosted by Klemen Breznikar on the It's Psychedelic website:  http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2011/06/valhala-interview-with-mark-mangold.html

 

 

 

 
 

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