Russ Giguere


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1971)

- Russ Giguere -- vocals, guitar

 

  supporting musicians (1971)   

- Merry Clayton -- backing vocals

- Craig Doerge -- bass

- Buddy Emmons -- guitar

- Chris Etheridge -- bass

- Vanetta Fields -- backing vocals

- Judy Henske -- backing vocals

- Jim Keltner -- drums, percussion

- Clydie King -- backing vocals

- Russ Kunkel  -- drums, percussion

- Larry Knecthel -- bass

- Bernie Leadon -- guitar

- Spooner Oldham -- keyboards

- Herb Pederson -- banjo

- Bud Shank -- flute

- Judee Sill (RIP) -- guitar

- Bobby Womack -- guitar     

- Jerry Yester -- backing vocals

 

 

 

 

The Association

- Bijou

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Hexagram 16

Company: Warner Brothers

Catalog: WS 1910

Year: 1971

Country/State: Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: promo white label copy; radio station timing strip on cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2363

Price: $35.00

Cost: $66.00

 

As a modest Association fan, this album came as a major surprise to me.  Not so much for the musical content, rather the fact I simply didn't know it existed.  Someone in an internet chat group I belong to mentioned it along with some favorable comments so I quickly dug up a copy. 

 

One of the original members of The Association, singer/songwriter Russ Giguere was also one of the first members to bail from the group.  Shortly after the release of 1970 "The Association Live", Giguere tendered his notice (supposedly over an argument over wearing shorts on an airplane).   He quickly struck out in pursuit of a solo career.  Signed by Warner Brothers (which was coincidently The Association's label), Giguere made his solo debut with 1970's "Hexagram 16". The title was apparently a reference to the Chinese character YŁ symbolizing enthusiasm, or eagerness.  Co- produced by Giguere and Associations producer John Boylan, for anyone expecting to hear a set of Association-styled MOR ballads, the album will come as a minor surprise.  In terms of material the album featured a mixture of Giguere originals and interesting cover tunes - the late Judee SIll, Randy Newman and even a track my Association member (Jules Alexander).  Sure, the Giguere original 'Now We Begin' started the LP with an Association-styled MORish ballad, but from there on the album was quite diverse and surprisingly attractive.  Tracks such as Sill's 'Ridge Rider', 'Rosarita Beach Cafe' and Jimmie Spheeris' 'Let It Flow' found Giguere aptly exploring Byrds/Flying Burrito Brothers-styled country rock.  The results were pretty, though not particularly original.  At least to my ears, Giguere was far more impressive on the atypical up-tempo rockers like 'Brother Speed' (written and previously recorded by Boylan and Appletree Theater), 'In New Germany' and a nifty remake of 'Shop Around'.  Elsewhere, 'My Plan' recalled something out of the Procol Harum catalog, while 'Pegasus' came off as an over bloated stab at pretentiousness.  Among others, backing vocalist Merry Clayton, keyboardist Larry Knechtel, guitarist Bernie Leadon, keyboardist Spooner Oldham, and Bobby Womack made for one of the year's more impressive list of guest musicians.  Unfortunately, the LP did little commercially.  

 

"Hexagram 16" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Now We Begin (Russ Giguere) - 2:51 rating: *** stars

Showcasing Giguere's pleasant voice, 'Now We Begin' opened the album with a pretty, acoustic ballad.  The song had a slightly lysergic edge which made it a little different than your typical Association number.

2.) Brother Speed (John Boylan - Terry Boylan) -3:40 rating: **** stars

The Association weren't exactly know for the rock numbers which made the rollicking 'Brother Speed' a surprising and enjoyable change of pace.  Always liked the ragged edge Gigurere applied to his voice on this one.  Would have been a nice choice as a single.

3.) Ridge Rider (Judee Sill) - 3:15 rating: *** stars

Interesting choice to cover the late Sill's 'Ridge Rider' (included on her self-titled 1971 debut).  Musically it didn't mess with the original arrangement, retaining the fragile country-western tinge.  The only problem is that if you've ever heard the Sill original, this is version going to be disappointing..  Sill provided acoustic guitar on the track.

4.) My Plan (BIll Martin) - 4:35 rating: *** stars

With a dark, ominous melody, a massive chorus and plenty of church organ, the ballad 'My Plan' could easily have been mistaken for something recorded by Gary Brooker and Procol Harum.

5.) In New Germany (Russ Giguere) - 2:34 rating: **** stars

Powered by a bouncy Chuck Berry-styled rock groove, 'In New Germany' has always been a mystery to me.  What in the world is the track about?  Someone out there will know !!!  Warner Brothers tapped it as a promotional single:

 

 

 

 

- 1971's 'In New Germany' b/w 'Let It Flow' (Warner Brothers catalog number 7508)

 

 

 

 

 

 

(side 2)

1.) Rosarita Beach Cafe (Bill Martin) - 3:52 rating: *** stars

Another track written by the late Bill Martin (sporting his typical dry humor) 'Rosarita Beach Cafe' was a country-tinged ballad that would not have sounded out of place on a Kris Kristofferson set.  Warren Zevin also covered the song. Interesting song for Warner Brothers to release as a promotional single:

 

 

 

 

- 1971's 'Rosarita Beach Cafe' b/w 'Rosarita Beach Cafe' (Warner Brothers catalog number 7432)

 

 

 

 

 

2.) Lover's Prayer (Randy Newman) - 2:09 rating: *** stars

Kudos for being an early convert to Randy Newman's cause.  His rocking cover of 'Lover's Prayer' was quite enjoyable, save for the irritating backing vocalists.

3.) Let It Flow (Jimmie Spheeris) - 3:46

Giguere's cover of the late Jimmie Spheeris ballad 'Let It Flow' (thankfully it wasn't a cover of the Firefall hit) stayed true to the original.  Pretty, but why not just listen to the original?

4.) Shop Around (Barry Gordy - Smokey Robinson)- 3:18 rating: *** stars

I remember wondering why Giguere would include a classic Motown tune on his debut ..,  Well, his remake was interesting, reflecting a total redo of the song, giving it a slinky rock arrangement.  My only complaint is it sounded as if he was trying too hard to please.

5.) Pegasus (Jules Alexander) - 3:31 rating: **** stars

Written by Association singer/guitarist, 'Pegasus' was the album's most progressive flavored tune.  With heavy orchestration, it was also the tune that reminded me the most of The Association.  In fact The Association also recorded the song though it wasn't released until 2002 "Just the Right Sound - The Association Anthology" (Rhino catalog number R2-78303).

 

 

Along with fellow Associations members Jules Alexander and two members of Honey Ltd., Giguere recorded a single as a member of Bijou. 

 

 

 


 

 

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