Dust Bowl Clementine
Band members Related acts
line up 1 (197-72)
- Bruce Bradt -- keyboards, backing vocals(1970)
- Edward Evans -- bass
- Anthony Fabiano -- drums, percussion, backing vocals
- Chuck Laskowski -- vocals, guitar
- Nick Manzi -- guitar, backing vocals
- Bohemian Vendetta (Nick Manzi)
- Faine Jade (aka Chuck Laskowski)
- Illusion (Bruce Bradt)
- The Rustics (Nick Manzi and Chuck Laskowski)
Rating: 4 stars ****
Title: Dust Blow Clementine
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: cut out notch along lower edger
Catalog ID: 5423
2016 update -
My initial take on this album was less than enthusiastic. In fact I sold my copy shortly after I wrote the brief review. And I didn't think about this band for five years afterward. And then I stumbled across another copy of the album. I actually picked it up; put it back, and then decided to give the band another shot - after all the price was right and the band name was simply classic. Call it the impact of aging, or maybe getting smarter, but what I initially thought was a forgettable, two star album totally surprised me this time around. How did I miss all the charms buried in these grooves? Belated apologies to Chuck Laskowski and company. Forget two stars. How about three and a half this time around ....
The connection with singer/songwriter Chuck Laskowski/Faine Jade has seen lots of high priced dealers label this album as a psych classic. I bought my initial copy based on similar hype. Be forewarned it isn't. In fact, "Dust Bowl Clementine" isn't even a rock album. Set your sites on early-'70s country-rock and you'll be in the right frame of mind. You'll want to adjust your price point accordingly.
For those of you who don't know, Faine Jade (aka Chuck Laskowski) was a Massachusetts based singer/songwriter. He was a mid-1960s member of The Rustics, before hooking up with members of The Bohemian Vendetta to record a highly collectable album as Faine Jade (1968's "Introspective").
Two years after the release of the Faine Jade album, Laskowski reappeared with the band Dust Bowl Clementine. The band featured former Rustics guitarist Nick Manzi, ex-Illusion keyboardist Bruce Bradt (who'd also played of the Faine Jade LP), bassist Edward Evans, and drummer Anthony Fabiano. While a member of The Rustics Laskowski had been signed to Laurie as a staff writer and those connections apparently helped him score a contract with Roulette. Produced by Michael Earle and largely penned by Laskowski the album featured eleven country-rock flavored numbers. Almost a concept album, most of the songs seemed to deal with returning to a simpler agrarian lifestyle. At least on the surface that probably didn't sound like a very promising description, but the fact of the matter was that in spite of the somewhat dated 'back to the country' theme, most of the songs were pretty good. Laskowski had a likeable voice, wrote catchy melodies ('Going Back Down To the Country'), and the addition of Manzi's tasteful guitar ('Flag Song') didn't hurt the proceedings. Not being a big country fan, the collection's more rock oriented material like 'Get Back Home' and the Woodstock tribute 'Patchin' Up' was far superior to Laskowski's more country oriented numbers ('Country Man'). Not a classic release by any stretch of the imagination, but the overall package was surprisingly pleasant.
Bowl Clementine" track listing:
1.) Get Back Home (Chuck Laskowski) - 3:01 rating: **** stars
It certainly wasn't a Fade Jade slice of pop-psych, but that wasn't to imply 'Get Back Home' didn't have its own charm. For someone who has never been a big country-rock fan, I have to admit I've seldom heard a better tribute to Boston.. Showcasing the Evans and Fabiano rhythm section, the tune had a great pounding rhythm, a criminally addictive melody, and an awesome Manzi solo. Bradt's keyboard figure provided the icing on the cake. Should have been a single !!!
2.) Country Man (Chuck Laskowski) - 2:09 rating: ** stars
As much as I liked the opener, I disliked 'Country Man'. Way more country-flavored, the tune also had the old timey feel that so many bands thought equated to sounding authentic. Other than a nice Manzi solo, this one didn't have much to recommend.
3.) Wish I was A Boy Again (Chuck Laskowski) - 3:44 rating: **** stars
'Wish I was A Boy Again' was an atmospheric ballad with some of the band's prettiest vocals - Laskowski seldom sounded as impressive.
4.) Patchin' Up (Chuck Laskowski) - 2:37 rating: *** stars
Nice country-tinged number apparently inspired by attendance at Woodstock. You couldn't help but smile at Laskowski's optimistic lyric ... Ah, what the Woodstock generation might have been ...
5.) Shingled Roof (Chuck Laskowski) - 2:38 rating: **** stars
Give Laskowski credit for setting out his personal vision of happiness without sounding like a toad. Sweet tune.
6.) Flag Song (recorded live) (Chuck Laskowski - Bruce Bradt) - 6:10 rating: **** stars
The liner notes said 'Flag Song' was recorded live. If that was the case these guys must have been one kick-ass outfit ... Complete with Bradt's atmospheric organ, lots of percussion, a meltdown acoustic and electric guitar duel, and a haunting lyric, this was the album's most lysergic tune and easily my pick for the album's standout performance.
Rollicking country-rocker that sounded like it was equal parts Jerry Lee Lewis and Creedence Clearwater Revival. The song sported some excellent Nick Manzi lead guitar work. In France and Germany Roulette actually tapped the album for an instantly forgotten single:
- 1972's 'Going Back Down To the Country' b/w 'Patchin' Up' (Roulette catalog number 45 VR. 19 5083)
- 1972's 'Going Back Down To the Country' b/w 'Patchin' Up' (Belaphon catalog number BF 18082)
2.) Ain't Got the Bread (Chuck Laskowski) - 3:22 rating: ** stars
"Bread" as in the slang word for money ... LOL. Can't remember the last time I heard anyone use the term. 'Ain't Got the Bread' was a pretty, mournful ballad where Laskowski's performance was actually better than the song itself. Wonder if she would have taken a personal check rather than the song? Maybe she got the royalty rights?
3.) It's Getting Worse (Chuck Laskowski) - 3:39 rating: **** stars
Guess it was important to balance the utopian Woodstock vision with a bit of day-to-day reality. At least Laskowski understood where most of us were coming from ("every egg I cook burns on both sides ..."). Who needs all those BS things-are-getting-better tunes? Love this song.
4.) We Can't Write No Letters (Chuck Laskowski) - 3:02 rating: **** stars
Another surprise. 'We Can't Write No Letters' started out sounding like it was going to be another slice of wallowing, singer-songwriter misery. That opening quickly morphed into one of the album's toughest rockers with an intriguing lyric (don't be robbing no banks) and a cool, stuttering lead vocal from Laskowski.
5.) Farm Song (Chuck Laskowski) - 5:39 rating: **** stars
Nothing like going out on an uplifting note ... Perfect soundtrack for the death of the small American farmer. Bruce Bradt's church organ was the perfect death knell. One of the most haunting tunes I've ever heard.
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