The We Five


Band members                              Related acts

  line up 1 (1964-67)

- Beverly Bivens -- vocals, rhythm guitar 

- Jerry Burgan -- vocals, guitar 

- Pete Fullerton -- bass, backing vocals 

- Bob Jones -- lead guitar, backing vocals 

- Michael Stewart (RIP 2002) -- vocals, bass, guitar, banjo 

 

  line up 2 (1967-71)

- Jerry Burgan -- vocals, guitar 

NEW - Debbie Graf Burgan -- vocals (replaced Beverly Bivens)

- Pete Fullerton -- bass, backing vocals 

- Mick Gillespie -- drums, backing vocals 

- Michael Stewart (RIP 2002) -- vocals, bass, guitar, banjo 

 

  backing musicians (1970)

- Byron Berline -- fiddle

- Doug Dillar -- banjo

 

  line up 3 (1971-77)

- Jerry Burgan -- vocals, guitar 

- Debbie Graf Burgan -- vocals

NEW - Mike Lewis -- keyboards 

NEW - Terry Rangno -- bass (replaced Peter Fullerton) 

NEW - Clifford Ray Scantlin -- keyboards 

NEW - Dennis Wood -- drums (replaced Mick Gillespie)

  

 

 

- Debbie Burgan (solo efforts)

- The Lengendaires (Debbie Graf Burgan)

- The Tricycle (Debbie Burgan, Jerry Burgan and  Peter Fullerton)

- West (Bob Jones and Michael Stewart)

 

 

 


 

Genre: pop

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  Catch the Wind

Company: Vault

Catalog: 136
Year:
 1970

Country/State: San Francisco, California

Grade (cover/record): NM/NM

Comments: sealed copy

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2187

Price: $30.00

 

It's rare and it's not very good - perhaps there's a correlation between the two ...

 

Produced by band member Michael Stewart, 1970's "Catch the Wind" found the group recording for Vault Records.  They were clearly aware popular tastes had moved on from their earlier folk moves, but judging by this mixture of styles, they weren't quite sure how to react.  The end result was a little bit of everything. You can see that approach in Stewart's liner notes: "When we first talked about recoding again, we wanted music that was simple, alive, and most of all had feeling.  This album is the end result of that wish.  We picked songs the group loves to sing and their performances show it.  And speaking of the group, Pete & Debbie's voices together and individually are beautiful to hear, and Jerry, writing some great songs.  "One Last Time' and 'Belong Beside You' for instance.   There's not much more to say except this album is intended to make you feel good. So if you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed making it, we'll all be happy."

 

The good news included the fact Debbie Graf-Burgan had a dynamite voice.  I know, everyone missed original singer Beverly Bivens, but if you gave Graf-Burgan a chance, she could really belt it out.  Had she been given better material ...  well you can only wonder.  There was also one really good song on the album - the Jerry Burgan original 'Belong Beside You'.  The rest ranged from middling, to downright awful, much of it straddling a country-rock, bluesy vibe that was seldom very inspiring.  

 

Sales proved slow and shortly after the album was released bassist Pete Fullerton, drummer  Mick Gillespie, and guitarist Stewart quit, effecting spelling the end of the group.   

 

"Take Each day As It Comes" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Here Comes the Sun   (George Harrison) - 2:23

Congratulations to the group for turning Harrison's classic tune into a slice of forgettable MOR sludge.   Complete with xylophone, the result was hopelessly upbeat and smiley.  Geez, they could have been selling toothpaste for all it mattered.  This could be one of the worst Beatles covers I've heard in a long time.    rating: * star

2.) Early Mornin' Rain   (Gordon Lightfoot) - 3:06

Never liked the Lightfoot original and this one didn't improve on the original.  rating: ** stars

3.) Belong Beside You   (Jerry Burgan) - 2:46

One of two Burgan originals, 'Belong Beside You' was a surprisingly engaging slice of top-40 pop.  Abandoning their folkie tendencies, this one had a full rock arrangement, complete with horns, a sax solo, and Mamas and Papas-styled vocals.  The song also served to show how good Debbie's voice was.   Shame there wasn't more of this stuff.   rating: **** stars

4.) Catch the Wind   (Donovan) - 3:44

I'll readily admit Debbie had a nice voice, but there simply wasn't a great deal she could do to salvage this dull cover of Donovan's well known song.  This one's always reminded me of something you might have heard at one of those Catholic folk masses ...  Vault also tapped it as a single:

- 1970's 'Catch The Wind' b/w 'Oh Lonesome Me' (Vault catalog number V 969)   rating: ** stars

5.) One Last Time   (Jerry Burgan) - 3:00

6.) Oh Lonesome Me   (Don Gibson) - 2:38

I guess they were trying to sound down and funky, but the group vocals actually sounded like something James Last might have recorded with his cast of US expatriates.  I guess nobody bothered to tell them that pointless shouting and screeching vocals really didn't help a song.   rating: ** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Never Goin' Back   (John Stewart) - 2:52

To be honest, guest Doug Dillard's banjo provided the highlight on this one, though it was tapped as the leadoff single:

- 1970's 'Never Goin' Back' b/w 'Here Comes The Sun' (Vault catalog number V 964) rating: *** stars

2.) For Lovin' Me   (Gordon Lightfoot)

3.) Come and Sit Down Beside Me   (J. Kahn - B. Jones - L. Jones ) - 3:08

With Debbie and the men sharing vocals, this one wasn't a fair fight - Debbie slaughtered the competition.  Shame the song wasn't very memorable.   rating: *** stars

4.) Tomorrow Is a Long Time   (Bob Dylan) - 4:00

I guess in the early-'70s there was a standard clause in recording contracts that required at least one Dylan song be on every album ...   This wasn't the best, or worst Dylan cover you'll ever come across.  Debbie had the chops, but seemed to be trying out her Joplin impression.   Burgan simply sounded like he was in pain.   rating: *** stars

5.) Milkcow Blues   (Kokomo Arnold) - 4:18

Interesting choice of material and while Debbie had a voice that could easily handle the song's dynamics, I'm not sure this arrangement was a good fit for her.   To my ears the results were just kind of plodding.  It got better as it went along, but you had to sit through the first half ...   Byron Berline provided the fiddle.    rating: ** stars

 

 

 


Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Take Each Day As It Comes

Company: AVI

Catalog: AVL 6016
Year:
 1977

Country/State: San Francisco, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5646

Price: $25.00

 

I've been collecting records since I was a teenager and even though I own several LPs from The We Five's earlier catalog, I have to admit I never knew this album existed.  I'm apparently not alone since there is scant information out there on this collection ...

 

Working separately with producers W. Michael Lewis (side 1) and Ed Cobb (side 2), 1977's "Take Each Day As It Comes" has been kind of a puzzle to me.  The collection was released by the Los Angeles-based AVI label which was better know for quickie releases by disco and Latin acts.  The liner notes didn't provide much information leaving the impression this was a late-inning project by original We Five singer/guitarist John Burgan and his wife Debbie Burgan (who replaced original singer Beverly Bivens in 1967).  (Based on information on The We Five website the actual line up was the Burgans, plus keyboardist Mike Lewis, keyboardist Ray Scantlin, bassist Terry Rangno, and drummer Dennis Wood.)  So what's this thing sound like?  Anyone expecting to hear something along the lines of their earlier folk-rock moves was probably going to be a little disappointed. To my ears the collection had an early-1970s sound and feel - imagine Brotherhood of Man had they been American rather than English. Musically it was quite varied including stabs at pop, lots of ballads, and an occasional up tempo rock number.  While it wasn't particularly focused and had kind of a dated sound (the material may have been recorded several years earlier), as lead singer Debbie Burgan had a great voice that was more than capable of handling the broad spectrum of material.  On their cover of Albert Hammond's 'Funny' she somehow managed to sound like ABBA, while on 'Let Me Stand' her performance bore an uncanny resemblance to Dusty Springfield.  By the way those comments weren't meant as criticisms. IN case anyone cared,  John Burgan handled lead vocals on the first part of 'Lonely Afternoon'.  Highlights included the title track, Jerry Burgan's epic over-the-top ballad 'Seven Day Change' and their fantastic cover of Steely Dan's 'I Mean To Shine'.  Bonus points to any band willing to cover a Becker-Fagen composition.  One other thing to mention - the collection was kind of curious in that a number of songs including the title track and 'Rejoice' had a religious edge to them. That's not to say this was an overtly religious collection - it wasn't, but there was a subtle religious flavor to the album.  Nothing but speculation on my part, but the album may have been a late-inning attempt to tap into the public's growing interest in Christian rock.  Like I said earlier, totally unlike their previous releases, but certainly enjoyable even though in an era of disco madness and punk aggression it never had a commercial chance.

 

"Take Each day As It Comes" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Take Each Day As It Comes   (Jerry Burgan) - 3:49

2.) Rejoice   (Michael Lewis) - 3:40

3.) Bandstand Dancer   (Terry Rangno - Dennis Wood) - 2:51

4.) The Natural Way   (Michael Lewis - Ed Cobb) - 3:00

5.) Funny   (Albert Hammond) - 3:07

 

(side 2)
1.) Seven Day Change   (Jerry Burgan) - 4:33

2.) Let Me Stand   (Clifford Ray Scantini) - 3:23

3.) I Mean To Shine   (Walter Becker - Donald Fagen) - 3:08

4.) Lonely Afternoon   (Jerry Burgan) - 3:23

5.) Does Anybody Love Me   (Reneva Armond) - 3:19

 

 

The Burgans have kept the band nameplate alive as The We Five Folk Rock Revival and have a nice website at:  http://www.officialwefive.com/

 

 

 

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