Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1971-72)

- Mike Rabon -- vocals, guitar

- Doug Rhone -- vocals, guitar

- H.L. Voelker -- vocals


  line up 2 (1973)

- Mike Rabon -- vocals, guitar

- Doug Rhone -- vocals, guitar

- H.L. Voelker -- vocals


  supporting musicians: (1973)

- Dan Baker -- backing vocals

- Robin Hood Brains -- percussion, backing vocals

- Gary Crapster -- drums

- Randy Fouts (RIP) -- keyboards, synthesizers

- Lynn Groom -- mellotron

- Paul Liem -- drums

- Mickey Raphael -- harmonica

- Tom Russell -- backing vocals

- Jerry Scheff -- bass

- David Stanley -- bass

- Ron Tutt -- drums

- Bobby Tuttle - pedal steel guitar

- A.D. Washington -- congas

- Larry White -- electric dobro





The Five Americans (Mike Rabon)

- Mouse and the Trap (Doug Rhone)

- Mike Rabon (solo efforts)





Genre: country-rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Lookin' for a Smile

Company: ABC

Catalog: ABCX-778

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $20.00


Mike Rabon's work with The Five Americans and his solo catalog are what brought me to Gladstone.  Well, that and the fact I found the album at a yard sale.  Can't say I know a great deal about this short-lived mid-'70s outfit.  Here's what I pieced together.


The group originally featured singer/guitarist Rabin, former Mouse & the Traps singer/guitarist Doug Rhone, and vocalist H.L. Voelker.  By the time the group released their sophomore album, 1973's "Lookin' for a Smile" Rabon was gone, leaving Rhone and Voelker to surround themselves with an extensive collection of sessions players.  Co-produced by Robin Hood Brains and the late Randy Fouts, it's one of those albums that goes by smooth and effortlessly.  Reflecting a mixture of originals (including two tracks by former member Rabon) and outside covers, there wasn't really a bad performance here.  Both Rhone and Voelker had strong voices that were well suited for the mixture of country and rock scattered throughout the ten tracks.  Given the mid-'70s were the zenith for country-rock bands, it shouldn't come as a surprise that you could hear echoes of bands like Firefall, early Eagles, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and Poco across these grooves.  What was missing was anything unique to differentiate them from those competitors.  Material like 'Let Someone's Smile Get Away', 'Texas Sparrow' and the title track got a too close to the country line for my tastes, but that was offset by more rock oriented efforts like Rhone's 'Long Way Home' and Voelker's closer 'Here Comes That Feelin''.   My biggest complaint was the heavy proportion of ballads gave the album a "sounds-the-same" vibe.  Taken individually they were all quite good, but hearing one after another ...  far less impressive. 


Like the debut, in spite of ABC's marketing campaign which included an appearance on NBC's "The Midnight Special" television series, sales proved scare and the duo subsequently called it quits.


"Lookin' for a Smile" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Natural Inclination   (W. Settle) - 2:38    rating: *** stars

Kicked along by sweet acoustic guitars and pretty harmony vocals, 'Natural Inclination' was a bouncy, commercial, if slightly anonymous country-rocker. It was the obvious choice for a single, though it failed to chart.  





- 1973's 'Natural Inclination' b/w 'Here Comes That Feeling' (ABC catalog number ABC-11361)






2.) Texas Sparrow   (Mike Rabon) - 3:33   rating: *** stars

'Originally recorded for Rabon's 1971 "Michael Rabon and Choctaw" album, Texas Sparrow' was one of two Rabon compositions.  A pretty country-tinged ballad, the tune was a bit too country for my tastes, though I will admit the harmonies were too-die-for pretty and Bobby Tuttle's pedal steel accompaniment was lovely.

3.) Let Someone's Smile Get Away   (Tom Russell) -  2:56    rating: *** stars

Another pretty pedal steel flavored performance, the ballad 'Let Someone's Smile Get Away' found the duo starting to fall into "sounds similar" territory.  

4.) Long Way Home   (Doug Rhone) -  3:56   rating: **** stars 

One of two Doug Rhone contributions, 'Long Way Home' was country-rock with the emphasis on rock.  Featuring a tasty guitar solo, imagine Poco deciding to rock out, or perhaps The Doobies opting to add a touch of country to their catalog.  Easily one of the album standouts, this is the track I would have tapped as a single. 

5.) Dixie Woman    (E. Reeves - M Settle) - 2:55   rating: *** stars

Joe South and Tony Joe White would have approved of the pastoral 'Dixie Woman.'  Nice country-soul edge to the delivery.


(side 2)
Got To Be You, Got To Be Me    (Tony Hazzard) - 3:54   rating: ** stars

The first minor disappointment, in spited of a sprightly chorus, the ballad 'Got To Be You, Got To Be Me' just never kicked into gear for me.

2.) Songbird    (H. Price - D. Walsh) - 3:03    rating: *** stars

Yet another touchy-feely ballad ...  And like the others it was pretty, professional, and largely forgettable.

3.) Love, Love, Love   (Mike Rabon) -  3:26     rating: *** stars

The second Rabon contribution.  Yes, yet another country-tinged ballad.

4.) Lookin' For A Smile   (Doug Rhone) - 4:20     rating: *** stars

Nothing special, but Rhone's title track offered up a nice balance between good time country and rock influences.  Lots of barrelhouse piano and pedal steel.

5.) Here Comes That Feelin'    (H.L. Voelker) - 3:59   rating: **** stars 

Closing the album with another of the isolated rock-oriented, 'Here Comes That Feelin'' provided another highlight.  Tasty guitar solo and Mickey Raphael turned in some nice harmonica work.