Year One


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1970-71)

- Vincent James DeMeo (aka Jim DeMeo) -- vocals, lead guitar

- Gregory Scott Kimple-- drums, percussion, backing vocals

- David Robert Robbins -- bass, backing vocals

- Mario Anthony Russo-- keyboards, backing vocals

 

 

 

Fantasy (Gregory Scott Kimple)

- Nobody You Know (Gregory Scott Kimple)

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Year One

Company: Year One Records

Catalog: YO 52347 / YO 52348
Year:
 1971

Country/State: Miami, Florida

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: double LP; gatefold sleeve; sealed copy

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2230

Price: $150.00

 

The Miami-based Fantasy was active from 1967 through 1970.   During that time they managed to record an interesting 1970 album for Liberty Records, before calling it quits.  

 

 

 

After Fantasy broke up lead singer Lydia Jamene Miller was signed by Liberty as a solo act, but nothing came of it.  She went on to record an album with the Florida band Power, but that project was also shelved.  She worked as a backup singer and touring vocalist, including a stint with Stevie Wonder's touring band and participated in a pair of one-shot Fantasy reunions, but by the early 1980s battling drug addiction and personal demons, had largely dropped out of the music scene.  She passed away in September 2008 at the age of 55.

 

Without Miller, singer/lead guitarist Vincent James 'Jim' DeMeo Jr., drummer Gregory Kimple, keyboardist Mario Russo, and bassist David Robert Robbins soldiered on as Year One.  Unable to attract the attention of  a major label, in 1971 they released "Year One".  Released on their own Year One Records label. their debut was a double album, sixteen track studio set.   

 

The album's rare, but not impossible to score.  That said, poking around the web I came up with about a dozen on-line references to the collection, but they were all extremely brief, essentially saying the same thing.  In fact, the absence of any real detail made me wonder if anyone had actually listened to the whole album.  I've never been able to figure out if "Year One" was intended as a concept piece.   Based on the narrative embedded in the title track, I think it was, but the plot line was completely lost on my pedestrian ears.  Also worth mentioning, while I wouldn't go as far as labeling this a Christian album, there seemed to be a religious element embedded in several of the tunes ('Jubilation' and 'True My Lord').  It wasn't a blatant, you're-going-to-hell kind of thing, but some folks might find it an irritant.  Regardless, clocking in at over an hour, the sixteen original songs were quite diverse, including stabs at conventional rock ('As Much As I Know You'), jazz-rock fusion ('We Look Out At You'), progressive, and even pop moves.  The result made it difficult to figure out how to label these guys.  Tracks like 'E=MC2', 'Juggle' and the instrumental 'Flood' were certainly more progressive than Fantasy.  At the same time the band showed they were capable of penning material way more commercial that anything Fantasy did.  Both 'Now You Are In The Puzzle' (released as an obscure 45), and the breezy 'Morning Lights' had radio play potential.  In hindsight the set  would have benefited from some judicious editing - there was clearly enough material here for a really good single LP.  Far from perfect, but I'll tell you I liked this one way better than the better known "Fantasy" album.

 

"Year One" track listing:

(side 21
1.) E=MC-2 - 4:18

If you could hang on through the first 23 second of discordant  jazz sax, 'E=mc2" morphed into a more entertaining slice of music that bounced around between progressive rock and more poppy segments.   Imagine Crack the Sky with a little more humor.  Yeah, the lyrics sounded like an astronomy class on a bender (and the sac reappeared at the end of the song), but the strange lyrics were part of the song's bizarre charm.   rating: **** stars
2.) Now You Are In The Puzzle - 3:50

Starting out as a fragile ballad, about a minute in, 'Now You Are In The Puzzle' morphed into an outright rocker.  Built on a nice little guitar and bass riff, this one had real potential.  I didn't even mind the sax solo. In 1976 the track was released as a single:

- 1976's 'Now You Are In The Puzzle' b/w 'We Look At You' (Year One catalog number YO # 52347)  rating: **** stars
3.) Morning Lights - 3:28

Sporting the album's breeziest melodies, 'Morning Lights' was the album's most conventional and commercial performance.  Hard to believe some label didn't latch on to this one as a single.    rating: **** stars
4.) Jubilation - 5:10

Showcased the band's excellent vocals, 'Jubilation' was an interesting rocker with a bit of cocktail jazz thrown in mid-song.   It was also one of those tracks that seemed to have a religious element in the lyric.   Again, it wasn't overwhelming and by the time DeMeo's kick ass guitar solo broke out, you probably didn't care.    rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Your Love, My Love - 3:34

The first disappointment, 'Your Love, My Love' was a bland, acoustic ballad that sounded like it had been cobbled together from various Styx castoffs.   Listening to the singer try to hit the falsetto notes was almost painful and the flute solo was a waste of vinyl.   rating: ** stars
2.) Juggle - 4:31

'Juggle' found the band going back to a progressive sound and motif complete with wild fantasy lyrics, multiple time shifts, and  Russo's abundant synthesizers.  The funny thing it I actually quite liked this one.  With the lead singer sounding like David Lee Roth engrossed in a sci-fi comic  "chariots thunder, warriors clash, lanes of their world reached beyond the sky ..." the thought of them trying to pull this one off in a Miami nightclub just makes me giggle ...  rating: *** stars
3.) Transitory River - 3:40

Opening up with some pretty Russo electric piano, Transitory River' continued in the progressive vein, albeit this time with a pretty, melody and one of the album's best guitar solos.  Guess they didn't care it was hard to come up with anything to rhyme with the title ...    rating: *** stars
4.) Flood (instrumental) - 2:27

With DeMeo provide a tasty guitar intro, 'Flood' found the band trotting out their jazz-rock fusion moves.  Not sure who provided the extended sax solo ...  rating: ** stars  


(side 3)
1.) Universal Love Song - 4:12

Ever see the film "Animal House" ?  Remember the scene where the Omegas are throwing a wild toga  party and John Belushi finds a Stephen Bishop playing guitar on the stairs?   His reaction is to grab the acoustic guitar and smash it against the wall.   Well, 'Universal Love Song' was the kind of hyper-sentimental ballad that would have sent Belushi into a rage !!!  The touching vocal didn't help much.   I did like the Greek-flavored acoustic guitars that closed out the tune.  rating: ** stars
2.) Year One - 5:15

Started as another ballad, thankfully the title track wasn't as fey as 'Universal Love Song'.   As mentioned above, the embedded narrative was apparently one of the keys to understanding the concept, but the plotline was lost to me.  And abruptly the song shifted direction, momentarily sounding like these guys were going into disco mode, another abrupt turn and we were back with another jazz-rock fusion segment.  Lots of alto sax on this one.  Not exactly my bag.    rating: *** stars
3.) We Look Out At You - 3:49

'We Look Out At You' was a nice rocker with some excellent DeMeo feedback laced lead guitar.  This one captured the band at their most mainstream and was one of the album highlights.   rating: **** stars  
4.) As Much As I Know You - 4:40

At this point I wouldn't have been surprised to hear an operatic segment ...   As a result the country-rock ' Rock 'N' Roll Nights' really wasn't a surprise.   What did come as a surprise was how good this tune was.  Pretty melody with some lovely vocals and I didn't even mind the pedal steel guitar accompaniment.   rating: **** stars

 

(side 4)
1.) Rock 'N' Roll Nights - 3:09

So what was missing from their musical Bouillabaisse at this point?  How about a little boogie rock ?   Well if you needed a taste of mindless boogie rock, 'Rock 'N' Roll Nights' should scratch that itch.   I've never seen a copy, but several years after the album was released the track was released as a single:

- 1974 'Rock 'N' Roll Nights' b/w 'Morning Lights' (Above & Beyond catalog number 311)   rating: ** stars
2.) Above You - 2:56

'Above You' was a jazzy ballad with vocals and scatting that reminded me a bit of an early America tune.  NO idea what the song was about.   rating: **** stars
3.) True My Lord - 3:42

Another country-rocker with a distinctive religious feel and surprise, it was an excellent song and performance.  One of the best things on the album.   rating: **** stars
4.) Champion - 5:29

'Champion' seemed like an effort to blend everything into a summary ... country-rock, jazz-rock, progressive moves, and some sort of concluding narrative (again list on my ears).   The refrain was certainly catchy enough, but like the rest of the album, ultimately disjointed and not entirely satisfying.   rating: *** stars

 

 

 

Seemingly credited as a Fantasy album (see the front cover), in 1976 the Above & Beyond label reissued the Year One collection as a condensed single LP.  

 

Kimple briefly resurrected the Fantasy nameplate in the late-'70s, but retired from music in 1983.  In 2007 he resumed his music career with the band Nobody You Know.

 

 

 

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