Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1975)
- Arthur Bod (aka Bod Noubarian) -- vocals, guitar, oud, dumbek
- Don Falk -- vocals, bass, pedal steel guitar
- Shaw Hayes (aka Dilphis Shaw) -- lead guitar
- Budge Witherspoon -- vocals, guitar
- Kenny Buttery (RIP 2004) -- drums, percussion
- Liberty Overman -- drums, percussion
- Judge Ruffin -- keyboards
- Mordecai Silber -- violin
- Arthur Bod
- The Del-Fis (Budge Witherspoon)
- Shaw Hayes (solo efforts)
- Robey, Falk and Bod (Arthur Bod, Don Falk, and Gary Noubarian)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: The Winds of Alamar
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: --
Statement of fact - country-rock bands were a dime a dozen in the mid-'70s.
Singers/guitarists Bill Robey, Don Falk, and Arthur Bod met in 1970 while attending Elon University. The three started writing and playing together and as part of the band Daze End attracted the attention of producer Tom Werman. Werman signed them to Epic Records where the label suggested a name change. As Robey, Falk and Bod, in 1973 they released the instantly obscure country-rock album"Kentucky Gambler" (Epic catalog number KE 31796).
Absent any sales successes, by the end of the year the trio was history, leaving Falk and Bod to continue their musical partnership with what would become Iguana. By the time Iguana signed with the Kensington, Maryland-based Quadratrak Records, the line-up had expanded beyond Bod and Falk to include singer/guitarists Shaw Hayes and former Del-Fis guitarist Budge Witherspoon.
Co-produced by Bod and Falk, 1975's "The Winds of Alamar" put the band firmly in the country-rock niche. With all four members contributing to the writing chores, when I listen to tracks like the single 'Dream Song', 'Fine Line' and 'Happy One-Sad One' it's like revisiting my high school years. I continually hear echoes of bands like America, CSN&Y, Firefall, Loggins and Messina, Pablo Cruise and Poco. The good news is I liked those groups when I was seventeen and still like them in my mid-'60s. The bad news is this album had very little going for it in terms of originality. The songs were all pretty, the multiple vocalists were all decent and the musicianship was consistantly strong, but it was very much a spot-the-influences type of album. Ultimately there was also a little too much Flying Burrito Brothers and Poco-styled country-rock for my tastes. In contrast, on tracks like 'Eulogy (Time Waits For No Man)' and the closer 'NIghthawk' I found these guys more interesting when they tilted toward rock influences.
On the technical side the original Quadratrak release was interesting as an early quad sound recording.
of Alamar" track listing:
1.) Introduction -
This wasn't even a song, rather a quad channel check. Funny to hear it today.
2.) Dream Song (Don Falk) - 5:18 rating: *** stars
Like the entire album, it's hard to provide an accurate description of the ballad 'Dream Song.' To my ears the band they come closest to might be Poco, but their country-rock moves were brightened by Bod's eclectic instrumental coloring - oud, etc. Awash in wonderful harmony vocals and crisp instrumentation, the performance was highly professional, hyper-smooth and perhaps a bit too safe for their own good. In 1977 when the album was picked up and re-distributed by United Artists, this track was released as a promotional single:
- 1975's 'Dream Song' b/w 'Dream Song' (United Artists catalog number UA-XW982-Y)
3.) Sailing Ships (Budge Witherspoon) - 4:29 rating: *** stars
Bod's eclectic instrumentation, plenty of stumming guitars and WItherspoon's aspirational lyrics combined to give 'Sailing Ships' an America vibe. Since I'm a big fan of early America, that wasn't a bad thing.
1.) Happy One Sad One (Don Falk) - 4:04 rating: *** stars
Poco anyone? I like Poco so I'll leave it at that.
2.) Romancin' (Arthur Bod) - 3:19 rating: *** stars
The first of two Bod contributions to the album, 'Romancin'' offered up a breezy pop number that was only marred by the odd hoedown ending, The "frog" back vocals were pretty funny and Hayes turned in a nice slide guitar solo.
- 1975's 'Romancin' b/w 'Everybody' (Quadratrak catalog number A-101)
3.) Eulogy (Time Waits For No Man) (Budge Witherspoon) - 5:03 rating: **** stars
Showcasing a pretty country-rock melody and "thoughtful" lyrics, 'Eulogy (Time Waits For No Man)' stitched together CSN-styled harmonies, Firefall-styled strumming acoustic guitars, and an overall feel that reminded me of Poco. Even though the track lacked much in the way of originality, I'll readily admit to liking it quite a bit. One of the album highlights.
4.) Nighthawk (Arthur Bod) - 4:12 rating: **** stars
One of the album's more rock-oriented tunes, 'Nighthawk' reflected an unexpectedly dark lyric, highlighting some of Bod's interesting instrumentation.
In 1977 United Artists acquired rights to the album. The label replaced the cover art with an anonymous group photo, dropped the quad sound, and added to new tracks before releasing the collection nationally where it met the same fate as the original ("Winds of Alamar" United Artists catalog number UA LA683-G.) United Artists released 'Dreams' as a promotional single and that was it for the band.
The additional tracks were:
Fine Line (Shaw Hayes) - 5:09 rating: *** stars
Judging by the pretty ballad 'Fine Line', Hayes was the most country-oriented writer in the group. His voice wasn't as strong as some of the other members, but it was good enough for this track and his lead guitar solo was nice. The fact the album was recorded at Quadrafonic Studios in Nashville Tennessee may have also impacted their sound. Pretty, but you couldn't help but having heard this one somewhere before.
Your Love (Shaw Hayes) - 4:11 rating: *** stars
Hayes' 'Your Love' displayed his knack for pretty melodies and the quartet's pretty blended voices and guitars. Kind of a nice CSN&Y vibe going on this one.
With Bod and Falk producing\ and support from various Nashville sessions players, Hayes also recorded a solo album " Tanglewood Tales" but the tapes were shelved.
The four members briefly reunited in 2000 and again in 2019 when they initiated an Iguana YouTube channel. Kudos for having retained a sense of humor: Iguana 2018 - YouTube
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