Band members Related acts
- Grant Gullickson -- vocals
- Lance Gullickson -- vocals
- Paul Bass -- keyboards, accordion
- Jim Divisek -- drums, percussion
- Alfred Garcia -- drums
- Jamal -- lead vocals
- Tim Kimble -- piano
- Henry Lucas -- lead guitar
- George Marinelli -- guitar
- Bob Monroe -- bass
- Eddie Petrie -- organ
- Steve Pinkston -- bass
- Brian Whitcomb -- keyboards
- Churchkeys (Grant Gullickson)
- Zarathustra (Grant Gullickson)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Company: Baby Grand
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: still in shrink wrap
Catalog ID: 161
So here's another obscurity on the mid-'70s L.A.-based Baby Grand tax-scam label. I see Ron Fair is shown as executive producer (Fair released more than his share of material on Baby Grand), which led me to wonder if this album was going to feature a forgettable collection of bland cocktail jazz-fusion moves like some of the other Baby Grand releases.
Based on the liner notes accompanying 1977's "Departure", there's not a lot of biographical material to go on here. Judging by the back cover, the band was built around the talents of brothers Grant and Lance Gullickson, with support from six others, including a lead singer listed as Jamal. That doesn't make much sense to me given both of the Gullicksons sang. The Gullicksons were also credited with penning four of the eight tracks; the rest of the collection made up of interesting cover tunes, including Jack Bruce ('Theme from an Imaginary Western') and Gram Parsons ('She'). Anyhow, a bit of poking around on the web indicated at separate times the Gullicksons brothers had been members of the Minnesota based bands Canoise and Zarathurstra. Grant also fronted the progressive outfit Ivory (younger brother Lance ended up joining a late inning incarnation of the band), which later morphed into the more pop-oriented Bobbidazzler.
So this is nothing more than speculation on my part, but I'm guessing this album was cobbled together from studio demos and outtakes from their Ivory sessions with some material from their latter Bobbidazzler work (maybe the poppy 'Bringing Me Down'). Again, nothing more than a guess on my part, but I note the song 'Time After Time' was written by Ivory bassist Steve Pinkston, and "Departure" producer Jim Divisek played drums on the 1972 "Ivory" album. In seems unlikely the Gullicksons had anything to do with this album and there's a good chance they don't even know this set exists. So what's it sound like? Well, surprisingly diverse and surprisingly impressive. As you'd expect, that diversity was both good and bad. With every song sounding completely different from the others, the eight tracks skipped along quickly with the Gullicksons showing a knack for crafting catchy hooks across different genres including folk-rock 'Prime Example', straight ahead pop 'It's Alright', and progressive 'Bringing Me Down'.
"Departure" track listing:
1.) Prime Example (Michael Lanning) - 2:50) rating: *** stars
Opening up with an extended accordion segment, 'Prime Example' caught me completely off guard, leaving me wondering whether I'd somehow managed to buy an album of Irish folk music. Once you got over the initial surprise, the song morphed into a pleasant folk-rock ballad with a nice hook and title chorus. Kind of Billy Joel-meets-Dylan with a very nice vocal from Grant Guillickson.
3.) Bringing Me Down - 5:03 rating: **** stars
'Bringing Me Down' was another unexpected shift in direction - this time the band taking a credible stab at keyboard-propelled progressive rock ... Seriously, the initial segment sounded like a slice of Jeff Beck-styled jazz-rock fusion, followed by various shifts in tempo and structure, including some nice Santana-styled Latin rock moves. Perhaps an Ivory outtake ?
4.) It's Alright (Lance Gullickson) - 3:47 rating: *** stars
'It's Alright ' was one of those sprightly, uplifting pop songs that I tend to find thoroughly irritating. As much as I wanted to disliked it, the song somehow got under my skin and wouldn't leave. Not sure what the bizarre electronic sounds bouncing around the mix were intended to do ... I'm guessing it was some sort of taping flaw, but who knows.
1.) Saturday Night (Lance Gullickson - Grant Gullickson) - 2:47 rating: ** stars
Another bouncy, pop number 'Saturday Night' started out okay, but just kind of got lost amidst a busy and overly complicate arrangement. The song literally sounded like it had been stitched together from three or four separate ideas.
2.) Joni's Song (Lance Gullickson) - 2:43 rating: *** stars
Hum, I'm guessing 'Joni's Song' was intended as their tribute to Joni Mitchell. Fairly commercial, but with a slightly off-kilter melody, this one reminded me a bit of early Steely Dan (before Donald Fagen began handling most of the vocals).
3.) Living In Disneyland (Lance Gullickson - Grant Gullickson) - 3:25 rating: ** stars
Like a couple of the other tracks, 'Living In Disneyland' started out promisingly, but simply collapsed under its own weight. Too bad these guys could find a melody they liked and then stuck with it, instead of trying to cram so many ideas ('50s doo-wop moves, fuzz guitar ???) into one thee minute song.
4.) Time After Time (instrumental) (Brian Whitcomb - Grant Gullickson - Steve Pinkston) - 2:50 rating: *** stars
Penned by former Ivory and Bobbidazzler bassist Steve Pinkston, 'Time After Time' was a pretty keyboard-driven instrumental that captured the band at their most progressive. This one actually had a European feel to it with some nice bass work from Pinkston.
5.) Theme from an Imaginary Western (Jack Bruce - Pete Brown) - 3:30 rating: **** stars
It would be interesting to know what led them to cover Jack Bruce's ' Theme from an Imaginary Western'. I've always liked Bruce's version and will tell you this one is even better. Probably the album's best performance ...
Nothing fantastic, but one of the better and more commercial releases on the Baby Grand label. Worth looking for. For hardcore collectors, there are two versions of the LP - one with a black and white cover and the rarer colored cover. I believe the color version is a first pressing, but who knows.
I also found this snippet of information from Steve Pinkston:
"Grant Gullickson went on to become a successful entertainment lawyer. Lance Gullickson got involved with film and video production, and his wife Tina is a backup singer for Jimmy Buffet. Jim Divisek continued working in music and behind the scenes of film production. "
And lo and behold, Mr. Pinkston stumbled across the website and dropped me a note:
Thanks for the generous write-up on the Departure LP.
I was not aware that a color version of the album cover existed! Every copy I've ever seen was in black and white, including all of mine. Man, are they ever made of lousy vinyl, though! I did buy a card-sized version of the color Departure poster years ago. The cover artist is William Stout - now a well-know fantasy artist ( http://www.williamstout.com ). I think that it is for that reason alone that the prices for this LP on Ebay have shot up to the $100+ range. Your educated guesses about the links to Ivory and Bobbidazzler are pretty accurate - it is mainly made up of alternate takes, demo, and unused tracks from both of those earlier albums.
A few corrections: Time After Time was a collaboration between Brian Whitcomb, Grant Gullickson, and me. The participants are all aware of the album's existence, notwithstanding its provenance or tax-advantage status. Also appearing on the album are Paul Bass on B-3 and accordion, and George Marinelli (google him for more) on guitar. I'm not sure about the other musicians - this record was made without my knowledge or participation, and I only learned of it when one of the guys gave me a copy.
Prime Example was written by Michael Lanning, formerly of the groups Jiva and Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and now a successful Broadway actor and singer.
Molalla, Oregon, USA
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