Moby Grape

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1967-68)

- Peter Lewis -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Jerry Miller -- vocals, lead guitar 

- Bob Mosley -- vocals, bass

- Skip Spence (RIP 1998) -- vocals, rhythm guitar 

- Don Stevenson -- vocals, drums, percussion 


  line up 2 (1969)

- Peter Lewis -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Jerry Miller -- vocals, lead guitar 

- Don Stevenson -- vocals, drums, percussion 


  supporting musicians (1969)

- Bob Moore -- bass


  line up 3 (1971)

- Peter Lewis -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Jerry Miller -- vocals, lead guitar 

- Bob Mosley -- vocals, bass

- Skip Spence (RIP 1998) -- vocals, rhythm guitar 

- Don Stevenson -- drums, percussion 

NEW - Gordon Stevens -- viola, dobro, mandolin


  supporting musicians (1971)

- Jeffrey Cohen -- bass

- Andy Narrell -- steel drums

- David Rubinson -- keybaords


  line up 4 (1973-75)

NEW - Jeff Blackburn -- guitar

NEW - John Craviotta -- drums

- Peter Lewis -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Jerry Miller -- vocals, lead guitar 

- Bob Mosley -- vocals, bass


  line up 5 (1978)

NEW - Cornelius Bumpus -- keyboards, sax

- Peter Lewis -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Jerry Miller -- vocals, lead guitar 

- Bob Mosley -- vocals, bass

NEW - John Oxedine -- drums

NEW - Christian Powell -- bass

NEW - Skip Spence (RIP 1998) -- vocals, rhythm guitar 


  line up 6 (1989)

NEW - Dan Abernathy -- guitar 

- Peter Lewis -- vocals, rhythm guitar

- Jerry Miller -- vocals, lead guitar 

- Bob Mosley -- vocals, bass 

- Skip Spence (RIP 1998) -- vocals, rhythm guitar 

- Don Stevenson -- drums, percussion 




- The Continentals (Son Stevenson)

- The Cornells (Peter Lewis)

- The Darrow Mosley Band (Bob Mosely)

- The Doobie Brothers (Cornelius Bumpus)

- The Ducks (Bob Mosely)

- The Elegants (Jerry Miller)

- Fine Wine (Bob Mosely)

- The Frantics (Jerry Miller and Don Stevenson)

- Grape Escape (Jerry Miller)

- The Incredible Kings (Jerry Miller)

- The Jefferson Airplane (Skip Spence)

- Peter Lewis (solo efforts)

- Jerry Miller (solo efforts)

- The Misfits (Bob Mosely)

Bob Mosley (solo efforts)

- Mosley Grape

- Peter and the Wolves (Peter Lewis)

- QUicksilver Messenger Service (Skip Spence)

- Sons of Champlin (James Preston)

- Spellbound (James Preston)

- Skip Spence (solo efforts)

- Don Stevenson (solo efforts

- The Strangers (Bob Mosley and Peter Lewis)




Genre: psych

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Wow/Grape Jam

Company: Columbia

Catalog: CS 9613

Year: 1968

Country/State: California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4782

Price: $10.00


Leave it to Moby Grape to do something strange and unusual for their second (or third) album (depending on how you count).  Technically the collection was actually a double album set, reflecting a new studio release "Wow", coupled with a live set "Grape Jam". The two albums came in separate sleeves, but were packaged together, selling for a dollar more than a standard studio album. 

Los Angeles recording sessions for their sophomore album proved a mess with Columbia subsequently shipping the band to New York with David Rubinson handling production.  "Wow" has always struck me as being Moby Grape's version of "The White Album".  Unlike their debut, the album sounded like a collection of solo efforts with backing from the rest of the band.  Working alone and in various combinations, each of the five members was represented across these twelve songs, with singer/lead guitarist Jerry Miller contributing to five tracks, while Pete Lewis was represented by one composition, though his ballad 'He' as one of the standout performances.  Yeah, the results were best described as erratic, but there were some first rate performances here.  Mosley's 'Rose Colored Eyes' was one of the best West Coast psychedelic songs you've never heard.  'Murder In My Heart for the Judge' was a great country-tinged rocker, while 'Bitter Wind' was the nicest folk-rock tune they ever laid down.  Shame the rest of the album wasn't as consistent.  Spence's 'Just Like Gene Autry: A Foxtrot' was a strange '30s styled dance number, featuring Arthur Godfrey.  It was also recorded at 78 rpm.   Unfortunately there was another, equally appalling novelty number - 'Funky Tunk' sounded like Alvin and the Chipmunks recording a hillbilly country number.   


In spite of mixed reviews, the album hit # 20 on the US charts.


"Wow" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) The Place and the Time   (Jerry Miller - Don Stevenson) - 2:07   rating: **** stars

If you wanted to find a song with that unique '60s West Coast vibe, you'd be hard pressed to find something more fitting than 'The Place and the Time'.  A sweet, heavily orchestrated  ballad that wandered in a myriad of different directions, the song showcased some of the band's nicest vocals, along with a distinctive lysergic edge.

2.) Murder In My Heart for the Judge   (Don Stevenson) - 2:58   rating: **** stars

I can't explain it, but Stevenson's blues-tinged 'Murder In My Heart for the Judge' has always been one of my favorite Grape tunes.  There's just something charming in it's old time feel and the killer Miller lead guitar work.

3.) Bitter Wind   (Bob Mosley) - 3:09  rating: **** stars

The first two thirds of Mosley's 'Bitter Wind' captured The Grape at the folk-rock best.  It was easily one of the sweetest tracks the band ever recorded and would have made a dandy single.  The last section wasn't quite as impressive with Mosley's electing to give the track a bizarre, dissonant, almost schizophrenia mix.

4.) Can't Be So Bad   (Jerry Miller - Don Stevenson) - 3:41  rating: *** stars

'Can't be So Bad' found The Grape showing the could handle horn-powered bar band boogie with the best of their contemporaries.  Come to think of it, the song actually had kind of BS&T feel to it (courtesy of The Tower of Power)  Always loved the acapella segment that kicked in around the 2:20 mark.  Maybe that's why Columbia tapped it as a single:  

- 1968's 'Can't Be So Bad' b/w 'Bitter Wind' b/w 'Bitter Wind' (Columbia catalog number 4-44567)

5.) Just Like Gene Autry: A Foxtrot   (Skip Spence) - 3:05   rating: ** stars

If you were a Moby Grape fan you didn't need to see the writing credits to know 'Just Like Gene Autry: A Foxtrot' was a Skip Spence number.  With a introduction from Arthur Godfrey (he also contributed banjo and ukulele), the song featured Spence on vocals with Lou Waxman and his Orchestration providing the '30s styled orchestration.   It was certainly odd; made even stranger by the fact the track played at 78 rpm (the rest of the album at the standard 33 rpm).  Spence apparently got the inspiration for the song after running into Godfrey at Columbia.  The pair seemingly hit it off, ever though Godfrey apparently had no idea Moby Grape's normal repertoire was a little more rock and roll oriented.


(side 2)

1.) He   (Peter Lewis) - 3:36    rating: **** stars

With some wonderful guitar moves and Lewis and Mosley trading lead vocals, 'He' was one of the prettiest songs the band ever recorded. For some reason the song's always reminded me of something Michael Nesmith might have penned for a Monkees album.    I've often wondered what the tune was about ...   

2.) Motorcycle Irene  (Skip Spence) - 2;24  rating: *** stars

Spence's second contribution ...  dark, ominous, goofy, and somehow still  loveable.  

3.) Three - Four   (Bob Mosley) - 5:01    rating: ** stars

Country-tinged ballad ... showed what a nice voice Mosley had, but the song was kind of bland and forgettable.

4.) Funky-Tunk   (Skip Spence - Jerry Miller) - 2:11  rating: ** stars

Geez, 'Funky Tunk' sounded like a mash-up of Alvin and the Chipmunks, and a bunch of hillbillies all taking hits off of laughing gas whippets.   

5.) Rose Colored Eyes   (Bob Mosley) - 4:00    rating: **** stars

If you've ever doubted The Grape's psychedelic credentials, then check out 'Rose Colored Eyes'.   One of Mosley's forgotten masterpieces, this one simply dripped lysergic influences and the backing harmonies were simply gorgeous.

6.) Miller's Blues   (Jerry Miller - Bob Mosley) - 5:22  rating: ** stars

Frankly I found this electric blues tune to be pretty plodding and pedestrian.

7.) Naked If I Want To   (Jerry Miller) - 0:52

This time out 'Naked If I Want' (it was also on the debut album), was more of a song snippet than a real tune, but it had kind of a Dead-vibe going for it and the lyric "can I buy an amplifier on time ... I ain't got no money now, but I will pay you before I die" always makes me smile.




Genre: psych

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Grape Jam

Company: Columbia

Catalog: MGS 1

Year: 1968

Country/State: California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4893

Price: $12.00



'Grape Jam" was originally released in conjunction with the "Wow" album (part of a double album package).  Recorded during the "Wow" New York sessions, most of the album was given over to a series of extended, loose jams with occasional assists from Michael Bloomfield ('Marmalade') and Al Kooper ('Black Currant Jam').  The sound was certainly different than "Wow", perhaps intended to underscore the group's FM credentials, but the results just weren't that interesting.   In fact, the best performances were the two non-jam compositions.  Bob Mosley's 'Never' was an electric blues number in the same tradition as his earlier 'Miller's Blues', while the closer 'The Lake' was a throwaway novelty number written and sung by a fan who won a radio station contest to write a song with the band.  They'll certainly be some folks into the three extended instrumental jams ('Boysenberry', 'Black Currant Jam' and 'Marmalade'), but they just didn't capture my interest.


"Live Grape" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Never   (Bob Mosley) - 6:16  rating: *** stars

On any other album Mosley's bluesy 'Never' probably wouldn't have made much of an impression.  I mean, it wasn't a bad performance with Sip Spence's guitar providing kind of a Zeppelin-esque feel to it (well, I guess it would make more sense to say Page and Plant borrowed from this - check out Zep's 'Since I've Been Loving You').  To be honest, it just wasn't all that exciting, but surrounded by some of the other extended jams on this set, it came out sounding pretty tight and enjoyable.

2.) Boysenberry Jam (instrumental) - 6:03   rating: ** stars

Spence provided the hypnotic piano figure on this one.  Always wondered if Jerry Miller or Michael Bloomfield was featured on this extended jam session.  Again, decent but not something you'd play on a regular basis.

3.) Black Currant Jam (instrumental) - 7:11   rating: ** stars

Al Kooper contributed keyboards to 'Black Currant Jam' making it the best of the album's jam tunes - though that really wasn't saying a great deal.


(side 2)

1.) Marmalade (instrumental) - 14:05   rating: ** stars

Even with Michael Bloomfield on keyboards, there was no need for a 14 minute jam session.

2.) The Lake   (Michael Hayworth - Moby Grape) - 4:01   rating: *** stars

San Francisco radio station KFRC and Los Angeles station KHK somehow convinced Moby Grape manager Matthew Katz to go along with a "write a song for Moby Grape" contest (the radio stations had previously run a similar event with The Buffalo Springfield.  Michael Hayworth won the contest; the result being 'The Lake'.  Set to his lyrics, the result was a dissonant, lysergic sounding collage that wasn't particularly impressive - though I will say Hayworth had a nice voice.  Wonder what happened to the man ...


Maybe not entirely fair, but I'd dock the album an additional star for having been the inspiration for a string of similar "jam" albums which were long-winded and pretentious, needlessly sucking millions of dollars out of the consumer's wallet.  Think along the lines of Michael Bloomfield, Al Kooper, Stephen Stills "Super Session" and Bloomfield and Kooper's "Super Session Live!".



Genre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  '69

Company: Columbia

Catalog: CS 9696

Year: 1969

Country/State: California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID:--

Price: $35.00

Cost: $66.00


In the wake of Skip Spence's mental and physical breakdown, 1969's "'69" was recorded as a quartet featuring singer/rhythm guitarist Peter Lewis, singer/lead guitarist Jerry Miller, drummer Don Stevenson and bassist Bob Mosley.  Produced by David Rubinson, the album doesn't get much credit from critics or Grape fans, but to my ears it's quite good.  It's even more impressive when you consider the turmoil  surviving members found themselves surrounded by.  Part of the criticism is understandable in that the set isn't particular cohesive, leaving you with the impression it was cobbled together from earlier sessions and catalog odds and ends.  Other's aren't going to agree, but I've always found the album's diversity is actually one of the characteristics that makes it so enjoyable.  With all four members contributing material, the set bounces between different genres, including country & western, folk-rock, pop and conventional rock.  It's done with a sense of professionalism and a laid back charm.  There are plenty of highlights with Mosley acquitting himself with particular distinction - check out what may be his prettiest song 'It's a Beautiful Day Today' and the boogie rocker 'Hootchie'.  Other standout tunes include 'Ain't That a Shame', the rocking ''Going Nowhere' and the typically bizarre (and disturbing) Spence leftover - 'Seeing'.  In fact, the latter selection may be enough for some psych fans to buy this set.  If I had to find something to criticize then it would probably have to do with Lewis' growing interest in country, but I have to admit I liked 'Ain't That a Shame' and 'I Am  ot Willing'.  On tracks like 'If You Can't Learn from My Mistakes' the band reminded me of something out of Mike Nesmith's solo career.  Was it the best Moby Grape studio album?  Nah, it doesn't come close to the debut, but I'm proud to own a copy, having done my part to boost its sales to # 113 n the Billboard album charts.  And as you'd expected by a band seemingly cursed with bad luck, things turned even uglier for the band when Mosley unexpectedly quit the band in order to enlist in the Marines Corps.  He last nine months before be given a dishonorable discharge for hitting an officer (not a career enhancing decisions).  


Giving it three stars, I originally felt the set was a touch too country-rock-ish, but revisiting it I have to admit I was just wrong.  Four stars release all the way.


"'69" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Ooh Mama Ooh (Don Stevenson - Jerry Miller) - 2:23 rating: **** stars
With a sparking, good-time melody, the old school boogie-rocker 'Ooh Mama Ooh' offered up a wonderful display of the band's versatility and harmony vocals.  I always loved Don Stevenson's out-of-control bass vocals - Funny to hear him channeling his inner Bowzer.  I love the song's Poco-meets-Sha Na Na sound, but I have to admit it was one weird choice as a single.  






- 1969's 'Ooh Mama Ooh' b/w 'It's A Beautiful Day Today' (Columbia catalog number 4-44855







2.) Ain't That a Shame (Jerry Miller - Don Stevenson - Peter Lewis) - 2:30 rating: **** stars

I'm not a big country fan, but have to admit the breezy melody combined with Bob Mosley's laconic delivery made 'AIn't That a Shame' charming.  Not to sound like a broken record, but it sounded like a good Micheal Nesmith tune written for the Monkees.

3.) I Am Not Willing (Peter Lewis) - 2:55 rating: **** stars

Built on a mesmerizing, almost hypnotic keyboard riff (Jerry Miller providing the tasteful guitar responses), 'I Am Not Willing' was a mesmerizing country-rock ballad.  Lewis' forlorn vocals just made it all the more touching.

4.) It's a Beautiful Day Today (Bob Mosley) - 3:02 rating: ***** stars

I'm as cynical as anyone else (maybe even more so), but there's something about this tune that's makes me step back from that trait and contemplate the gifts and opportunities life gives us. Written and sung by Bob Mosley, it may be the best thing he ever recorded. The songs always reminded me of a strong Young Rascals composition, and while some will think the lyrics sound naive, I prefer the term hopeful. If it doesn't stop you in your tracks, then it may be time to re-examine your life. It's certainly a top-10 highlight in the extended Moby Grape catalog. I'm not sure when or where it was recorded (The Ed Sullivan show?), but YouTube has a clip of the band lip-synching the tune for a television performance: Moby Grape - It's A Beautiful Day Today (1968) - YouTube

5.) Hootchie (Bob Mosley) - 4:25 rating: ***** stars

For anyone who didn't think these guys could rock, I'd suggest giving the boogie-rocker 'Hootchie' a spin. I find Mosley's growling voice gets better and better every time I hear the tune.  Awesome fuzz bass line too boot.


(side 2)

1.) Trucking Man (Bob Mosley) - 1:58 rating: ***** stars

Always wondered why the American Trucking Association didn't adopt this as their theme ...  blue-collar rock at it's finest and another great showcase for Mosley. Who was responsible for the barrelhouse piano solo?.  Shame the song was so short.


- 1968's 'Trucking Man' b/w 'If You Can't Learn From My Mistakes' (Columbia catalog number 4-44789)

2.) If You Can't Learn from My Mistakes (Peter Lewis) - 2:33 rating: *** stars

With a sweet melody Lewis's country-rocker 'If You Can't Learn from My Mistakes' was another tune that's always reminded me of the late Michael Nesmith.  Even his angelic vocals recalled Nesmith.  

3.) Captain Nemo (Don Stevenson - Jerry Miller) - 1:44 rating: *** stars

'Captain Nemo' was a nice folk-rocker which only had one flaw - it was too short.  Would love to know what it was about.

4.) What's To Choose (Peter Lewis) - 1:57

Lewis (and Mosley) have always struck me as being the band's overlooked, secret weapons.  With a pseudo-jazzy vibe, Lewis' 'What's To Choose' was quite different from the rest of the album - like hearing a David Crosby song on a CSN&Y album.  

5.) Going Nowhere (Don Stevenson - Jerry Miller) - 2:02 rating: **** stars

As a big Buffalo Springfield and Byrds fan, the blazing rocker 'Seeing' was an album highlight for me.  Great melody, fantastic vocals and some awesome Jerry Miller fuzz guitar ... what wasn't there to love on this one?  Oh I know - it was too short.

6.) Seeing   (Skip Spence) - 3:49 rating: ***** stars

'Seeing' was a leftover from the "Wow" recording sessions.  Skip Spence's only contribution to the album; the track was originally entitled 'Skip's Song'.  Dropping some of the original's psych touches, the remake went for a rock sound.  Featuring  Mosley on lead vocals (a man who knew his own demons) and Miller playing like his life depended on it, the song is pretty stunning.  It sounds wild, but there's a unsettling feeling of despair hearing Mosley sing/scream the title ...







Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Truly Fine Citizen

Company: Columbia

Catalog: CS 9912

Year: 1969

Country/State: California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: original Columbia inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5280

Price: $25.00


Moby Grape's fourth album routinely gets slammed by critics, which tells me most of them simply haven’t heard it.   


With Skip Spence having previously checked himself into Bellevue Hospital, the band struggled on. On the heels of a disastrous European tour bassist Bob Mosley suddenly deciding to join the Marines (his military career lasted less than a year when he was discharged after getting into a fight with an officer).  While survivors Peter Lewis, Jerry Miller and Don Stevenson were ready to throw in the Moby Grape towel, their contract called for another album for Columbia.  The trio bravely soldiered on with 1969’s “Truly Fine Citizen”.  Recorded in Nashville with Bob Johnson producing and sessions player Bob Moore handling bass, the sessions were reportedly completed in three days.  The fact the album actually saw the light of days was a minor miracle.  Given contractual obligation albums are normally throwaways, the fact the LP was quite listenable proved even more impressive.  The fact it was recorded quickly with the band operating in a ‘throw-away’ mode also served to give the set a live, easy-going charm.   Whereas earlier albums had occasionally included country-rock influences, those influences were far more distinctive this time around. At the same time, on country-rock numbers like ‘Beautiful Is Beautiful’ and ‘Now I Know High’ the band’s distinctive west coast vibe remained intact.  With Lewis picking up the writing chores (anyone know the story on the other credited songwriter - T Dell’Ara?), quite a few of the tracks were memorable, though side two faded somewhat. Highlights included the opener ‘Changes, Circles Spinning’, the jangle rocker title track, and the bluesy ‘Looper’. With little promotional support from Columbia (no single, no touring money), the album still managed to hit # 157, though the remaining members didn’t stick around to enjoy it.  By the time the album was released Miller and Stephenson had both joined Bill Champlin’s Rhythm Dukes.  Too bad they couldn’t have kept it together a little longer since a year later the buying public was clamoring for country-rock bands …  (Great cover photo – the guy was apparently the hired security outside of their Nashville studio.)


"Truly Fine Citizen" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Changes, Circles Spinning (Peter Lewis) - 2:27 rating: **** stars

While I'm not a big country fan, I've always loved Lewis' deep voice and he seldom sounded better than on the glistening 'Changes, Circles Spinning'.  Lewis had the perfect instrument for the band's more country oriented material, though Milller's lead guitar certainly helped make this one worthwhile.  

2.) Looper (Peter Lewis) - 3:02 rating: **** stars

'Looper' was a tune from the band's starting days, an earlier version had been on one of their demos.  Always loved the guitar tone Miller got on the country-rocker 'Looper' Sharing lead vocals Lewis and Miller (?) simply sounded awesome.  Hard to believe it wasn't a single.

3.) Truly Fine Citizen (Tim Dell’Ara) - 1:47 rating: *** stars

The first disappointment, the title track was another country-tinged number, but suffered from a raw, ragged vocal.

4.) Beautiful Is Beautiful (Tim Dell’Ara) - 2:29 rating: *** stars

My goodness their harmony vocals were too-die-for pretty.  Easy to image The Byrds listening to this one in awe.

5.) Love Song (Tim Dell’Ara) - 2:22  ** stars

Not sure who handled lead vocals, but all three vocalists sounded horse and uninspired on the country ballad 'Love Song'. 


(side 2)

1.) Right Before My Eyes (Peter Lewis) - 2:02  ** stars

By the time I got to side two the album's heavy dose of country started to irritate ...  Lewis' 'Right Before My Eyes' was a pretty enough ballad but did nothing to alleviate that growing sense of unhappiness.

2.) Open Up Your Heart (Tim Dell’Ara) - 2:36 rating: *** stars

At least 'Open Up Your Heart' sounded like they were enjoying themselves and the ragged harmonies were a hoot.

3.) Now I Know High (Peter Lewis) - 6:10 rating: *** stars

The ballad 'Now I Know High' was way too long. devolving into little more than a studio jam that was apparently padded out to extend the LP's running time, though I have to admit I enjoyed Miller's extended guitar solos. 

4.) Treat Me Bad (Tim Dell’Ara) - 2:17  ** stars

Straight ahead country tune that sounded a little bit like a Michael Nesmith composition.  Not to my tastes.

5.)  Tongue-Tied (Jerry Miller – Skip Spence)  - 2:01 rating: *** stars

Given Spence was co-writer, 'Tongue-Tied' most have been another leftover.  Forgettable blues vibe.

6.) Love Song, Part Two (instrumental) (Tim Dell’Ara) - 2:41  ** stars

Geez, with a Stan Getz/João Gilberto vibe the instrumental 'Love Song, Part Two' found the band seemingly discovering Brazilian flavored jazz



Turns out there's at least one Moby Grape mega fan out there who knew the answer to my earlier songwriting question:  "Miller and Stevenson credited all of their songs on the record to Grape road manager Tim Dell'Ara to circumvent legal complications from the ongoing litigation with Matthew Katz."   


Thanks to Jennings Falcon (May 2014)






Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  20 Granite Creek

Company: Reprise

Catalog: RS 6460

Year: 1971

Country/State: California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring wear on cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5159

Price: $20.00


Perhaps inspired by Matthew Katz's late 1970 decision to field a fake Moby Grape (Katz owned the band name), early 1971 saw the original Moby Grape line up reunite (along with new member/multi-instrumentalist Gordon Stevens).  Signed by Reprise Records, the group wasted no time recording a comeback album with producer David Rubinson.  Ironically, by the time "20 Granite Creek" was released (the title being a tribute to the house where the recording sessions took place), the reunited band had already fragmented.  That was a shame since their comeback was also the strongest and most enjoyable thing they'd done since their 1967 debut.  With everyone except Stevens contributing to the songwriting chores the set was typically diverse, though the LP's overall feel was surprisingly focused and direct ... ah the power of experience.  Starting off with Bob Mosley's kicka*s rocker 'Gypsy Wedding' (far better than the version he re-recorded for his solo LP), the album was also full of unexpected surprises.  Grape fans probably weren't surprised that Skip Spence would turn in the set's most eclectic offering.  Propelled by Spence's Koto solo, the lone instrumental 'Chinese Song' offered up a strange yet fascinating blend of Eastern and rock moves.  Stunning !  About half of the world music acts that dominate today's jazz stations should bow in homage to this track.  Other highlights included Lewis' reflective ballad 'Apocalypse', one of history's best drinking songs 'Ode to the Man at the End of the Bar' and the rocker 'Wild Oats Moan'.  There was no supporting tour (the band having split a couple of weeks after the recording sessions were completed), but in spite of minimal promotional support the set proved a minor commercial success making the top-200 charts, peaking at # 177.


In spite of its inconsistencies, this is another Moby Grape album that I've grown to appreciate more and more over the years.  


"20 Granite Creek" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Gypsy Wedding (Bob Mosley) - 2:30  rating: ***** stars

Showcasing Mosley's powerhouse voice, crushing bass line and a take-no-prisoners heavy sound, 'Gypsy Wedding' was the powerhouse rocker fans knew they had in them.  Darn - try sitting still through this one !!!  Crap, now I'm playing it in my head.  Reprise tapped it as a single and it's one of rock's mysteries that the song wasn't a massive hit:

- 1971's  'Gypsy Wedding' b/w 'Apocalypse' (Reprise catalog number 1040)
2.) I'm the Kind of Man That Baby You Can Trust (Jerry Miller) - 2:38
rating: ** stars

The title and the end-of-song dance titles always makes me laugh, but Miller's 'I'm the Kind of Man That Baby You Can Trust' was ultimtaley a bit too country for my tastes.
3.) About Time (Don Stevenson) - 2:52
rating: *** stars

Stevenson's 'About Time' started out as dark, intriguing ballad and out-of-the-blue shifted into Grateful Dead-meets-Caribbean steel drums - courtesy of Andy Narrell (a white, Jewish, New York musician).  
4.) Goin' Down to Texas (Peter Lewis) - 2:00 
rating: **** stars

My opinion - Lewis has always been one of the band's overlooked assets.  I've always loved his growling voice and the guitar solo was to-die-for hot.  Having owned a 65 Vette, I love this tune. Shoot I'd marry a woman with a '70 or '71 Vette ...  Reprise released it as the second single:





- 1971's 'Goin' Down to Texas' b/w 'About Time' (Reprise catalog number 1055)





5.) Road to the Sun (Bob Mosley) - 2:48 rating: *** stars

Funky blue-eyed soul ... Darn Mosley had an awesome voice.
6.) Apocalypse (Peter Lewis) - 2:11
rating: **** stars

The album's prettiest tune, the folk-rocker 'Apocalypse' has always reminded me of a classic Byrds performance.  Great melody, great Lewis vocals and lyrics will stop you in your tracks - "Reliving every feeling as I watched my life go by I could see my living look like only learning how to die For the narrow road that I walked on, that I could have turned away Was the fear that I did not feel love, as I met my death today"


(side 2)

1.) Chinese Song (instrumental) (Skip Spence) - 5:42 rating: **** stars

I can understand why some folks hate 'Chinese Song' with a passion.  It's about as rock and roll as a polka.  I'm sure someone has the background on how the Spence instrumental 'Chinese Song' came to be.  It's one of those tracks that just comes out of nowhere - who would have expected to hear a track propelled by a Koto ?   It's a lovely melody and Spence must have spent weeks learning the instrument in order to sound so proficient.  Wonder what the rest of the band thought went Spence unveiled the track.  Proto-world music for people who don't like world music ... 

2.) Roundhouse Blues (Jerry Miller) - 2:45 rating: ** stars

Bland country-blues number that gave new member Gordon Stevens a chance to showcase his fiddle.
3.) Ode to the Man at the End of the Bar (Carl Mosley) - 3:43
rating: ***** stars

Written by Bob Mosely''s brother (reportedly while sitting in a San Diego strip bar), 'Ode to the Man at the End of the Bar' is simply one of the funniest drinking songs ever written.  Producer Rubinson on synthesizers and keyboards.  Anyone who's been there will smile at this one.
4.) Wild Oats Moan (Don Stevenson - Jerry Miller) - 3:12
rating: *** stars

Decent, if unspectacular rocker.
5.) Horse Out in the Rain (Peter Lewis) - 2:20
rating:** stars

Pretty, interesting and mysterious ballad - another one I'd like to understand.





Genre: psych

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Great Grape

Company: Columbia

Catalog: C-31098

Year: 1972

Country/State: California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5030

Price: $15.00


Released posthumously, 1973's "Great Grape" pulled together a hodgepodge of singles and album tracks.  Country-rock ('Trucking Man'), folk-rock ('Someday' matched up well with anything in The Byrds' catalog'), pop ('Omaha'), psych (' Changes'), rock ('Ooh Mama Ooh') these guys could do it all.  As a retrospective it was actually a sad testament to what could have been showcasing the immense talent these guys had.  Unfortunately Columbia simply couldn't figure out how to package and sell the group (not that the band didn't deserve much of the blame themselves).  As with most 'best of' sets you cpuld certainly argue with the song selections.  Personally, I'd say including five tracks from the first album was overkill at the expense of some of the follow-up efforts.  Yeah, "Moby Grape" was their creative zenith, but there was plenty of other stuff that warranted at least glancing attention and none of it was here.


"Great Grape" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Omaha   (Skip Spence) - 2:22

2.) Murder in My Heart for the Judge   (Don Stevenson) - 2:58

3.) Bitter Wind   (Bob Mosley) - 3:04

4.) It's a Beautiful Day Today    (Bob Mosley) - 3:06

5.) Changes   (Jerry Miller - Don Stevenson) - 3:21


(side 2)

1.) Motorcycle Irene   (Skip Spence) - 2:23 

2.) Trucking Man   (Bob Mosley) - 2:00 

3.) Someday   (Jerry Miller - Don Stevenson - Skip Spence) - 2:39

4.) 8:05   (Jerry Miller - Don Stevenson) - 2:19

5.) Ooh Mama Ooh   (Jerry Miller - Don Stevenson) - 2:25

6.) Naked, If I Want To   (Jerry Miller) - 0:55



Genre: psych

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Live Grape

Company: Escape

Catalog: ESA1A

Year: 1978

Country/State: California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5790

Price: $25.00


In 1977 original Moby Grape members Peter Lewis, Jerry Miller, with occasional support from Bob Mosley and Skip Spence decided to revive the nameplate.  Backed by new members Cornelius Bumpus (keyboards), drummer John Oxedine, and bassist Christian Powell, the revamped band began playing dates around Northern California, but almost immediately ran into legal issues when former manager Matthew Katz refused to allow the use of the Moby Grape name.  In retrospect it seems petty since the band responded by playing dates billing themselves as Maby Grope, The Grape, and The Original Grape.  


Released by the small California-based Escape label, 1978's "Moby Grape Live" captured a couple of those live shows - dates recorded at San Francisco's The Shady Grove and The Inn of the Beginning in Cotati, California.  Produced by John Chesleigh, the album featured a mixture of new original material from Lewis and Miller and a broad spectrum of covers.  The overall results ranged from quite good (Lewis new rocker 'That Lost Horizon') to fairly routine (Bill Dogget's 'Honky Tonk').  Certainly not a breakthrough comeback, the album seemed designed to showcase the band's diversity and homespun charm, rather than as a full tilt attempt to recapture their glory days.


"Live Grape" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) That Lost Horizon   (Peter Lewis) - 4:48

As a full tilt country-rocker, the Lewis-penned 'That Lost Horizon' struck me as one of the standout performances.  The song actually reminded me a little of Mike Nesmith's post-Monkees catalog, though the country-rock flavor benefited from a fantastic fuzz powered lead guitar.  Shame there weren't more numbers like this one.    rating: **** 4 stars

2.) Here I Sit   (Jerry Miller) - 2:38

I'm normally not a big country fan, but found myself nodding along with Miller's 'Here I Sit'.  Yeah, it was country, but with a rock-tinged backing and one of the album's best guitar solos.  Nice.   rating: *** 3 stars

3.) Honky Tonk (instrumental)   (Bill Dogget - Shepherd) - 5:24

The decision to cover the Bill Dogget chestnut 'Honky Tonk' was fine, though it really didn't do much for me.  For anyone interested, the highlights were a nice Miller guitar section and  future Doobie Brother Cornelus Bumpus' sax solo.   rating: *** 3 stars

4.) Cuttin' In   (Johnny Watson) - 4:51

Their cover of Johnny Watson's 'Cuttin' In' was professional, but not particularly exciting.  Miller (think he handled the lead on this one) did his best on the vocal, but this was a standard blues number that probably sounded better in a club after you had a couple of beers.   rating: ** 2 stars

5.) Must Be Goin' Now Dear   (Skip Spence) - 3:35

The lone Skip Spence tune, 'Must Be Goin' Now Dear' came off as pretty raw and rugged, but that was probably a pretty good reflection of Spence's personal state at the time.  Those aural limitations aside, there was something special hearing Spence back in action and this was one rocking piece of music with the whole band playing with an extra spark !!!   rating: ***** 5 stars

6.) Young Rider   (Peter Lewis - Christian Powell) - 3:12

Another country-tinged rocker, 'Young Rider' wasn't bad, but wasn't particularly inspired.  It seemed to largely function as a platform for some Miller lead guitar pyrotechnics.   rating: *** 3 stars


(side 2)

1.) Up in the Air   (Peter Lewis) - 3:58

Side two opened with the most straightforward commercial track - Lewis' engaging and thoughtful 'Up In the Air'.  Simply a great song, it had everything going for it including a highly catchy melody, some wonderful fuzz lead guitar, and even some pretty harmony vocals.  Should've been tapped as a single.   rating: ***** 5 stars

2.) Set Me Down Easy   (Cornelus Bumpus) - 5:02

'Set Me Down Easy' served as Cornelus Bumpus' contribution to the album.  Bympus certainly had a nice voice, but the song itself was kind of a bluesy supper club outing.  The highlight was a jazzy Miller guitar solo.   rating: ** 2 stars

3.) Love You So Much   (Jerry Miller) - 3:38

A straightforward country number, 'Love You So Much' was wasted on my ears.   rating: * 1 star

-4.) You Got Everything I Need   (Jerry Miller) - 11:25

While Miller's 'You Got Everything I Need' had some nice parts, stretched out over eleven minutes, it quickly degenerated into a pedestrian bar jam with all of the participants clambering for a shot at the spotlight.   rating: *** 3 stars 


Far from my favorite Grape album, but likeable for it's easy going charm and as an album where the band actually seems to be having a good time.  Should be more like this one.  Unfortunately the collection did little commercially and the reunion quickly ran out of steam.





Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Legendary Grape

Company: Del Val

Catalog: DV 06

Year: 2003

Country/State: California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5214

Price: $40.00


In the face of their protracted legal fight with Matthew Kaufman which had consistently barred them from using the Moby Grape nameplate, in 1989 Peter Lewis, Jerry Miller, Bob Mosley, and Don Stevenson reunited under the moniker The Melvilles.  The reunion gathered some traction and the next year the band released a new studio set.  Also credited to The Melvilles, "Legendary Grape" was originally released on cassette via their own Herman label.  In conjunction with a brief American tour the album was subsequently reissued credited to The Legendary Grape.  (A couple of years later the set was reissued by the Del Val label.)  Curiously, while Spence was shown on the cover and contributed one of the better selections ('All My Life'), the brief liner notes only credited him with 'presence + atmosphere'.  Given the ten tracks were reportedly recorded live in a single take, the results were nothing short of dazzling. Mosley provided five new songs, Miller four, and Spence the previously mentioned track.  As with the rest of their catalog, the band bounced between various genres including conventional rock and more country-rock flavored numbers ('On the Dime').  True, it wasn't exactly "Moby Grape. Part II", but there were several standout efforts including Miller's blazing leadoff rocker 'Give It Hell', Mosley's pretty ballad 'Bitter Wind In Tanganikya' (which recalled something by The Marshall Tucker Band) and 'Took It All Away'.  Even better, though they looked a little older and wiser, the band members sounded like they were actually having fun.  Sadly the album attracted little attention and the band scattered.  Within a couple of years Mosley was living in the streets of San Diego, while Spence was institutionalized.  He died in 1998.          


"Legendary Grape" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Give It Hell   (Jerry Miller) - 

2.) On the Dime   ( Jerry Miller) - 

3.) Bitter Wind In Tanganikya   (Bob Mosley) - 

4.) Lady of the Night   ( Jerry Miller) - 

5.) Took It All Away   (Bob Mosley)


(side 2)

1.) Nighttime Rider   (Bob Mosley) - 

2.) Talk About Love   (Bob Mosley) -

3.) All My Life   (Skip Spence) - 

4.) You'll Never Know   ( Jerry Miller) - 

5.) You Can Depend On Me   (Bob Mosley) -