Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1970-71)

- Chet McCracken -- vocals, drums, percussion

- Jack Merrill -- vocals, guitar

- Rob Rochan -- vocals, bass, percussion




- The Doobie Brothers (Chet McCracken)

Evergreen Blueshoes (Chet McCracken)

- Chet McCracken (solo efforts)

- Rare Earth (Chet McCracken)





Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Help

Company: Decca

Catalog: DL-75257

Country/State: California, US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2750

Price: $50.00



Help's one of those early-1970s groups that had considerable talent and released a pair of decent albums that just seem to have gotten lost in the tidal wave of music being released during that timeframe.  Their short recording catalog (two albums and two singles) is also sort of interesting for the musical shift the band underwent within a year's time - their self titled debut album had a heavy country-rock vibe, while the follow-up set featured a far more rock orientation.  It's actually kind of funny to note that a website run by one of the members (referenced below), doesn't even mention this band ...   

A California-based trio featuring the talents of former Evergreen Blueshoes drummer Chet McCracken, singer/guitarist/keyboard player Jack Merrill, and bassist Rob Rochan, in 1970 the group scored a contract with Decca Records leading to the release of 1971's cleverly-titled "Help".   Co-produced by Val Garay and Mark Hopkins McNabb, the ten performances (including nine originals), were are all quite good, with the band displaying a knack for penning pretty and commercial melodies.  As lead singer Merrill displayed a likeable voice and some nice guitar chops, while McCracken and Rochan more than held up their shares of the workload.  The trio also displayed some very nice harmony vocal skills.  The downside was that the album had a heavy focus on acoustic country-rock, folk, and singer-songwriter numbers. Individual performances like 'Open Up the Door' and 'Easy To Be Free' were first-rate, but when strung back-to-back over large swaths of the LP the results started to sound similar and somewhat plodding.   Far better were the isolated, up tempo rockers such as 'Run Away' and 'Keep In Touch'.   That might well explain the major shift in musical direction with their sophomore release.


"Second Coming" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) For Sale - 4:40    rating: *** stars  

Kicked along by Merrill's attractive jangle-rock guitar, 'For Sale' was a likeable, harmony-rich country-rock number.  Interestingly the song got heavier and better as it progressed with the end of the track including some tasty electric guitar.

2.) Open Up the Door  - 2:50    rating: **** stars

One of the album's most commercial offerings, 'Open Up the Door' had a bouncy melody and stereotypical 'all-together-now-people' lyric that served to showcase the trio's tight harmony vocals.  Kudos to Merrill for his cool Allman Brothers-styled picking.  Yeah, I'm a pushover for stuff like this.   

3.) I Tried Too Hard - 1:43    rating: ** stars

'I Tried Too Hard' was a pretty, but forgettable acoustic ballad ...   

4.) Easy To Be Free - 3:08    rating: *** stars 

Merrill had a very nice voice and it was seldom showcased as well as on the ballad 'Easy To Be Free'.  The song also sported one of the album's best melodies with their sparkling harmony vocals giving the song an added glow, though the mid-song time shift was somewhat unexpected.  Still, this was one of the standout performances.  

5.) Run Away - 7:07     rating: **** stars

A nice change of pace, 'Run Away' was the album's first straight ahead rocker.  Opening up with some killer Merrill lead guitar, the song also sported a great Merrill-Bob Rochan shared lead vocal.  Taunt, but tuneful, it was easy to see why this one was tapped as a single, though it should have provided the band with a massive radio hit rather than sliding into oblivion.   



- 1971's 'Run Away' b/w Keep In Touch' (Decca catalog number 32783)


(side 2)
1.) Keep In Touch - 4:26 
   rating: *** stars 

I guess it would be a stretch to label 'Keep In Touch' progressive, but with its myriad of time changes and elaborate structure, it was the most experimental track on the set.  Quite enjoyable.   

2.) Take a Look At Yourself - 4:49     rating: *** stars 

It wasn't much in the lyric department, but 'Take a Look At Yourself' was another nice rocker.  While Merrill turned in a fantastic wah-wah guitar solo, the true standout performance came in the form of Rochan's innovative and hyperactive bass.   

3.) Commit Yourself - 3:00    rating: **** stars

It didn't have the best melody, or hook, but for some reason 'Commit Yourself' was the song I found myself humming and coming back to.  Perhaps it had something to do with Merrill's impressive jazzy lead guitar or hearing a lyric that included the phrase 'get you sh*t together' ... 

4.) Help Me, Help You, Help Me - 4:10     rating: *** stars 

Luckily 'Help Me, Help You, Help Me' was better than its cumbersome title.    The song also served to spotlight Merrill's considerable chops, including a killer wah-wah solo and a surprisingly engaging jazzy section.  

5.) Tennessee Waltz - 4:02    rating: ** stars

A 'rocked-up' version of 'Tennessee Waltz' was one of those things that sounded better as a concept than in actuality. I'd suggest you just skip this one.  


Their sophomore release is the one that tends to grab people's attention, but I'll argue the debut is a grower.  Yeah, there weren't enough rockers (especially on the first side), but song-for-song this one was pretty impressive.




Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Second Coming

Company: Decca

Catalog: DL-75304

Country/State: California, US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: small cut out hole top left corner

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2749

Price: $75.00


Produced by Val Garay, their sophomore release 1971's "Second Coming" found the trio of drummer Chet McCracken, guitarist Jack Merrill, and bassist Rob Rochan pursuing a much heavier rock groove.  With all three members again contributing material, the all-original set managed to meld some blazing hard rock moves with an occasional dash of psych, and some surprisingly commercial touches.  For a trio these guys generated quite a bit of energy (to say nothing of volume - try cranking this one up on a good stereo).  McCracken underscored his credentials as one kick-as* drummer, ensuring that his contributions were always more than a steady backbeat (check out the way he kicked the rocker All Day' along').  Merrill showed himself to be a multifaceted guitarist (hard to believe he didn't make the big time with another band), while Rochan proved an innovative bassist - check out his bass line on 'Hold On Child'.  The funny thing is that I've listened to this one dozens of times over the years and never been able to  come up with a better known group that would serve as a benchmark for comparison.  About the best I've been able to come up with is describing them as a more talented and commercial version of Sir Lord Baltimore (which happens to be a band that I like quite a bit).  Exemplified by songs like '' and '' this was clearly hard rock, but these songs were full of memorable melodies and some great harmony vocals.  Elsewhere 'Hold On Child' deserved notice as one of the few songs that managed to include solo slots for all three members without becoming plodding and overindulgent - the whole thing clocked in under 4 minutes.  Merrill's screaming solo on the track is almost worth the entire price of admission.  Elsewhere opening up with Merrill's double tracked leads the extended, bluesy 'Dear Lord' was my pick for standout track.  As with the debut release, Decca tapped the album for an instantly obscure single:



- 1971's 'Good Time Music' b/w 'Hold On Child' (Decca catalog number 32879)

"Second Coming" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Do You Understand the Words   (Chet McCracken - Jack Merrill - Rob Rochan) - 3:35

2.) All Day   (Chet McCracken - Jack Merrill - Rob Rochan) - 3:00

3.) Good Time Music   (Chet McCracken - Jack Merrill - Rob Rochan) - 3:30

4.) Hold On Child   (Chet McCracken - Jack Merrill - Rob Rochan) - 3:58

5.) T.C.A   (Chet McCracken - Jack Merrill - Rob Rochan). - 7:10


(side 2)
1.) Dear Lord   (Chet McCracken - Jack Merrill - Rob Rochan) - 9:55

2.) Oh My   (Chet McCracken - Jack Merrill - Rob Rochan) - 4:25

3.) Power   (Chet McCracken - Jack Merrill - Rob Rochan) - 5:10



And that was it for the band.  McCracken went on to join The Doobie Brothers.  Even though there's no mention of Help, he has a nice website at:



No idea what happened to the two other members ...