Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1970)

- David Beaver -- vocals, keyboards 

- Mike Bleecker -- drums, percussion 

- David Mayo -- vocals, guitar, keyboards 

- Steve Spear -- bass

- Jim Tarbutton -- lead guitar 

- Pat Taylor (RIP 2015) -- vocals, guitar 


  line up 2 (197-72)

- David Beaver -- vocals, keyboards

- David Mayo -- vocals, guitar, keyboards 

- Steve Spear -- bass 

- Jim Tarbutton -- lead guitar 

- Pat Taylor (RIP 2015) -- vocals, guitar 

NEW - Joel Williams -- drums, percussion (replaced Mike Bleecker) 





D. Beaver (solo efforts)

- David Beaver's Combinations 

- Blues Circus (Jim Tarbutton)

- The Breaks (Pat Taylor)

- Caboose (David Mayo and Joel Williams)

- Drama (Pat Taylor)

- The Gentrys (David Beaver, Steve Spear, Jim Tarbutton)

- Jaguar (David Mayo - Pat Taylor)

- David Mayo (solo efforts)

- Jim Tarbutton & Memphis Sound

- Village Sound (Pat Taylor)





Genre: progressive

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Ship of Labor

Company: TMI

Catalog: Z 30971

Year: 1971

Country/State: Memphis, Tennessee

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring wear; small promo sticker on cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5365

Price: $40.00



Every time I see the cover on this LP I marvel at the audacity some marketing folks had ...  Can you imagine trying to sell an album showing manacled hands and legs in Memphis, Tennessee?  In this day and age you'd probably find yourself with a riot on your hands.


Edgewood's roots are kind of interesting in that keyboardist David Beaver, bassist Steve Spear, guitarist Jim Tarbutton were all members of the Memphis based The Gentrys (albeit a late inning version of the group).  Apparently increasingly bored within the pop confines imposed by The Gentrys, the three quit in 1970, promptly recruiting drummer Mike Bleecker (replaced by Joel Williams), multi-instrumentalist David Mayo, and guitarist Pat Taylor to form Edgewood (the band apparently named after the Memphis street Taylor was living on).  The band spent several months writing, rehearsing and playing local clubs before signing with the small Memphis-based TMI label.


left to right: 

Jim Tarbutton - Mike Bleeker - Steve Spear - Pat Taylor - David Beaver


A quick word of warning - anyone expecting to hear a collection of Gentrys-styled garage/blue eyed soul moves was going to be in for a major shock when they heard 1972's Jimmy Johnson produced "Ship of Labor".  With all six band members contributing to the album, material such as 'Why Don't You Listen', 'Unconscious Friend' and 'What You See' featured a distinctive progressive edge, though the longer and more complex song structures retained a highly commercial edge that would have sounded good on FM radio.  Imagine a group like Ambrosia, Kansas, or Styx with a penchant for Southern garage rock and you'll be in the right aural neighborhood.  Sure, songs like the ominous title track, 'Burden of Lies' and 'Medieval People' (when's the last time you heard a Memphis band singing about the sins of Christian Crusaders) were a little bit quirky, but blessed with three strong vocalists in Beaver, Mayo and Taylor (they turned in some great harmony work on the title track and 'We Both Stand To Lose'), that was a minor drawback that could easily be overlooked.  Unlike anything you'd expect to hear from a '70s Memphis band, the whole LP was worth hearing.  Personal favorite was the gorgeous ballad 'We Both Stand To Lose'.  


"Ship of Labor" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Ain't Had No Lovin'   (Steve Spear - David Beaver - Pat Taylor - Jim Tarbutton - M. Blecker) - 4:40  rating: **** stars

The ballad 'Ain't Had No Lovin' opened up the album with one of the best pop-progressive hybrids I've ever heard.  Boasting an instantly captivating melody and a refrain that was pure ear-worm, you had to wonder how radio missed out on this one.  TMI tried to gain some exposure for the band tapping the song as a promotional single:





1972's 'Ain't Had No Lovin'' b/w 'Silent' (TMI catalog number ZS7 9011).







2.) Why Don't You Listen   (David Beaver - David Mayo) - 4:44   rating: *** stars

I'm not sure who handled lead vocals on 'Why Don't You Listen', but the first quarter of the song stood as a roadmap for an army of forthcoming "hair bands" - think along the lines of David Coverdale and Whitesnake.  The lead vocals had the same sort of "I-am-pissed-off-at-you" demeanor that came to rule early-'80s airwaves.  And then the song swung off into a distinctive progressive direction, before closing out with more "hair band" moves.

3.) Burden of Lies   (Pat Taylor - David Beaver) - 3:53   rating: **** stars

Built on a sweet melody and some amazing harmony vocals, 'Burden of Lies' could have easily been mistaken for a prime-time Styx tune (except for the fact it was written and performed several years before Styx existed).  Should've made these guys radio mainstays.

4.) Ship of Labor  (Steve Spear - David Beaver - Jim Tarbutton ) - 6:35  rating: **** stars

The title track slowed things down and pushed the band back in a more progressive-rock corner.  The song also featured some gorgeous twin lead guitar moves.  Perhaps it was Beaver's Hammond organ, but this one's always reminded me of a good Uriah Heep performance.

(side 2)
1.) Unconscious Friend   (J. Williams - Pat Taylor) - 3:15 
  rating: *** stars

'Unconscious Friend' featured a different lead singer and a shift towards a more blue-eyed soul feel.  Not as instantly grabbing as some of the other tracks, but one that snuck up on you.

2.) Medieval People   (David Beaver) - 3:45   rating: **** stars

The guitar and keyboard opening offered up some prime '70s progressive moves.  Coupled with the historical-focused  lyrics (Al Stewart would have approved), 'Medieval People' was simply a hoot. Wonder what the Budweiser crowd thought of this one ...

3.) We Both Stand To Lose   (W. Crook - Rene Crook) - 4:42    rating: **** stars

The ballad 'We Both Stand To Lose' sported a sound falling somewhere between Michael McDonald era Doobie Brothers and  Holiday Inn lounge act vibe.  That said, it was one of my favorite performances, sporting some lovely, jazzy guitar moves from Jim Tarbutton and showcasing stunningly pretty backing vocals.

4.) What You See   (Steve Spear - David Beaver) - 3:06   rating: *** stars

'Unconscious Friend' featured a different lead singer and a shift tow

'What You See' was another example of the band's ability to meld progressive moves with a more commercial edge. Yeah, more Styx than ELP, but I still liked the results.

5.) Silent   (W. Crook - David Mayo) - 6:35

The pretty ballad 'Silent' was going to find a fan base among anyone who liked cheesy '70s synthesizers.  Yes, I'm a card carrying member of the club.



Over the next year the band served as the TMI house band, while continuing to play local clubs and opening Memphis dates for national acts ranging from Jeff Beck to Deep Purple.  They also recorded material for a follow-up album that was never released.  Having a tough time making it financially they finally called it quits in 1972.