Houston Fearless


Band members                             Related acts

  line-up 1 (1969)

- Harley Baker -- keyboards
- Bill Combest -- drums, percussion
- Joel Krasomil (RIP 2013) -- bass
- Bob Wall (RIP 2015) -- vocals, guitar

 

 

 

 

- The Badd Boys (Bill Combest, Joel Krasomil. and Bob Wall)

- Love Song (Bob Wall)

- The Bagdads (Joel Krasomil)
- Bob Wall (RIP 2015) -- vocals, guitar

- Sean and the Brandwines ( Joel Krasomil and Bob Wall)


 

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Genre: rock

Title:  Houston Fearless

Company: Imperial

Catalog: LP-12421

Year: 1969

Country/State: Los Angeles, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring, edge and corner wear

Available: 1

Catalog number: --

Price: $40.00

 

I've never been able to dig up much on this quartet.  Guitarist Bob Wall and Steve Conway met in 1963 while attending high school in Tujunga, California where they had started rival bands.  The two eventually decided to pool their energies, recruiting drummer Bill Combest and bassist Joel Krasomil.  Known as The Badd Boys, the started playing local dances and clubs, before being spotted and signed by Epic Records in 1965.  Working with producers Stu Phillips and Dick Monda, the band released a pair of obscure singles:

- 1965's 'Folks In a Hurry' b/w 'I Told You So' (Epic catalog number 5-10165)

- 1965's 'Never Goin Back To Georgia' b/w 'River Deep, Mountain High'  (Epic catalog number 5-10119)

 

Nether single attracted much attention and Epic dropped the group.  Replacing Conway with keyboardist Harley Baker, the band subsequently morphed into Houston Fearless. Coincidently the name had nothing to do with the city of Houston, which seems to be the reason some referenced tag them as being a Texas-based entity.  Instead the name was a nod to the Los Angeles-based Houston-Fearless Corporation which was known for manufacturing film developing equipment and camera cranes and other hardware. Signed by Imperial, their self-titled 1969 debut teamed them with producers Charles Greene and Brian Stone (best know for their work producing soul and R&B acts). Musically "Houston Fearless" wasn't bad, though it wasn't particularly distinguished.  A fairly typical set of late-'60s hard rock, material such as 'Not Foolin' Me', a nice cover of Gun's 'Race with the Devil' and an extended cover of The Buffalo Springfield's 'Mr. Soul' had a mid-western bar band vibe to them.  David Wagner and Crow; Leslie West and Mountain, even Steppenwolf all came to mind.  Powered by Wall's growling vocals and affection for fuzz guitar,  Baker's stabbing keyboards and Combest's massive drum sound, it wasn't the year's most original album, but the performances were uniformly strong.. Easy to see why Sunn hired them to sell music amplifiers.  With Wall and Baker responsible for most of the material, among the more interesting tracks were the acoustic ballad 'Only For You' which offered up their prettiest melody, the country-rocker 'What Are Those Things', and the psych-tinged rocker 'Blue Bones and Ashes.'   Did it sell?  Nope.  Is it worth hearing?   Certainly.  Especially if you can find a cheap offering.

"Houston Fearless" track listing:

(side 1)
1.) Not Foolin' Me (Bob Wall) - 4:05  rating: *** stars

Propelled by Wall's growling voice, his fuzz guitar and Bill Combest massive drum sound, 'Not Foolin' Me' offered up a classic slice of molten, bar-band hard-rock. It wasn't particularly original, but on a good stereo you could feel your ribcage rattling. Easy to see why Sunn picked them to promote their amplifiers.  Trying to find a comparison, think along the lines of David Wager and Crow, or Leslie West and Mountain.
2.) His Eye Is On the Sparrow (arranged and adapted by Houston Fearless) - 3:10
  rating: *** stars

Opening up with some Harley Baker church organ, 'His Eye Is On the Sparrow' started out with a distinctive Gospel feel, but shifted into a more upbeat, but equally Gospel-tinged melody.  Nice Wall vocal and an indication of the Christian rock direction he would go with his follow-on band Love Song.
3.) Only For You (Bob Wall) - 3:42
  rating: *** stars

Opening up with some nice Wall acoustic guitar, 'Only For You' offered up a pretty ballad.  I'm normally not a big ballad fan, but it was nice to hear the band taking their collective feet of the accelerator and slowing things down a tad.
4.) Blue Bones and Ashes (Harley Baker) - 2:43 
  rating: **** stars

'Blue Bones and Ashes' started out sounding like a folk song, but the track quickly exploded into a likeable psych-tinged fuzz-rocker.  Kibd of a Blue Cheer vibe on this one.
5.) Race with the Devil (Adrian Gurvitz) - 2:27 
  rating: **** stars

Compared to the Gun original, their cover of 'Run with the Devil' didn't differ all that much.  The melody and the classic guitar riff remained instantly recognizable.  If anything the cover was stripped down and slightly rawer.  Not a bad thing in my book.  A red vinyl version of the track was tapped as a Japanese single:

 

 

 

 

- 1969's 'Race with the Devil' b/w 'Love Has a Habit' (Liberty catalog number LR-2320)

 

 

 

 

(side 2)
6.) Mr. Soul (Neil Young) - 4:58 
rating: *** stars

Their cover of The Buffalo Springfield's 'Mr. Soul' was raw and energetic, but it wasn't going to make you forget the original.  While each member got a moment in the spotlight, Wall's solos provided the highlights.
7.) What Are Those Things (Dallas Frazier - A.L. Owens) - 2:11
   rating: **** stars

I was familiar with Charlie Louvin's 1968 cover of the song.  The Houston Fearless arrangement ditched the straight country feel for a Gram Parsons era Byrds country-rock feel.  Very atypical for the band, and one of the standout performances.
8.) Knock Knock (Bob Wall - Joe Krasomil - Bill Combest - Harley Baker) - 3:12 
rating: *** stars

The album's only band collaboration, 'Knock Knock' featured Wall's best vocals, a great guitar riff and added a mild Latin feel to their patented hard-rock sound.
9.) Joshua (arranged and adapted by Houston Fearless) - 2:10 
rating: ** stars

Opening up with Baker's Hammond B3, 'Joshua' returned to a hard-rock sound, but was ultimately wasted on a bland and uninspired cover of the traditional tune.  For goodness there were even bells on the arrangement.
10.) Hold Me (Bob Wall) - 2:53 
rating: ** stars

The album closed with the collection's most conventional pop tune.  Wrapped in horns and heavy orchestration, you could have mistaken this for The Spiral Staircase, or numerous other top-40 pop purveyors.  Catchy, but ultimately musical product with little to recommend

 

With the album stiffing, the band promptly fell apart.

 

Having suffered a stroke and crippling arthritis, suffering from a blood infection, Krasomil passed on in April 2012

 

Married and the father of a young daughter, Wall quit the music business, working as a bug exterminator.  He replaced  Chuck Girard in the Christina band Love Story, recording several albums with the band, before returning to the pest control business.  In poor health for several years, he passed on in 2015.  The Love Song website includes a page on Wall: Bob Wall Love Song (lovesongtheband.com)

 

Drummer Bill Combest is apparently still alive, occasional adding comments to Houston Fearless YouTube clips.

No idea what became of keyboardist Harley Baker.  Someone out there must know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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