Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1977)
- Richard Epstein -- drums, percussion, vocals
- Jerry McCord -- vocals, bass
- Ralph Trimarchi -- lead vocals, guitar, synthesizers
- none known
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Afternoon In Milan
Company: Rocking Horse
Country/State: New York
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: still in shrink wrap; torn and opened
Catalog ID: 6067
Not that anything on the Rocking Horse label is all that easy to find, but this 1977 set is among the most sought after releases on that oddball taxscam imprint. In fact I believe this on shows up in one of the Hans Pokora Record Collectors Dreams books.
Apparently for the New York City area, Random Element featured the talents of drummer Richard Epstein, bassist Jerry McCord, and singer/lead guitarist Ralph Trimarchi. Released in 1977, their sole album "Afternoon In Milan" was recorded in New York's Right Track Studio with Daniel McNerney producing. It would certainly be interesting to learn how they got tangled up with Rocking Horse Records ...
Judging by the liner notes, Trimarchi was seemingly the band's front man and creative center. In addition to handling lead vocals and lead guitar, he was also responsible for the bulk of the material (seven of the eight songs). Musically the set found the trio working at the junction between conventional rock and slightly more progressive moves giving it a very mid-1970s sound. It didn't make for anything particularly original, but the performances were surprisingly good. As lead singer Trimarchi didn't have the most impressive voice, but he made good use of his talents, occasionally sounding like Nils Lofgrin ('All My Love'), or a pissed-off, rocking version of Al Stewart. His performances were definitely better on up tempo numbers like 'I Don't Mind' as opposed to ballads like 'All My Love'. As lead guitarist his playing was occasionally on the busy side and the Roland guitar synthesizers sounded a bit dated ('Tearful Stains'), but the overall performances were quite good.
In Milan" track listing:
1.) Simplified Questions (Ralph Trimarchi) - 3:35 rating: **** stars
Opening up with some nice Trimarchi guitar moves, 'Simplified Questions' was a perfect example of the group's attempt to meld commercial rock with a slightly more progressive edge. With a tight melody, great rhythm section support from Epstein and McCord, and a bit of tasty freak out lead guitar from Trimarchi, this was an example where the combination worked in spades. Only complaint was the song faded out too early. Shame Styx never managed to do something this good.
2.) On the Road (Ralph Trimarchi) - 4:30 rating: **** stars
With it's 'bookish' lyrics and showcasing Trimarchu's Roland guitar synthesizer, 'On the Road' has always reminded me of what Al Stewart would have sounded like had he decided to record a true rock song. One of the album's standout performances.
3.) I Don't Mind (Ralph Trimarchi) - 2:41 rating: *** stars
With a slightly funky edge, 'I Don't Mind' seemed built to showcase Trimarchi's lead guitar. The song wasn't half bad and should certainly appeal to anyone into pounding lead guitar, but to my ears this one was a bit disappointing with Trimarchi having seemingly decided to cram as many notes as possible in the short song. Again, the song seemed to prematurely fade out.
4.) All My Love (Ralph Trimarchi) - 4:02 rating: ** stars
The lone side one ballad, 'All My Love' was okay, but simply couldn't stand up next to the other three performances. The ballad wasn't bad, but Trimarchi's voice simply wasn't well suited for the genre, coming off as strained and flat - the title track refrain was positively painful to hear. rating: ** stars
'It's Just My Imagination' opened side two with another ballad. This one suffered from the same shortcomings as 'All My Love', though it at least sported some of Trimarchi's most subdued and effective guitar work.
2.) Tearful Stains (Ralph Trimarchi) - 3:56 rating: ** stars
'Tearful Stains' found the trio adding a reggae groove to the proceedings (remember this was the mid-1970s when everyone was into reggae). Like most folks playing around with the genre, the results were rather plain and predictable. Imagine one of those bad 10 C.C. reggae numbers like 'Dreadlock Holiday'.
3.) Afternoon In Milan (instrumental) (Ralph Trimarchi) - 2:16 rating: **** stars
The title track instrumental was the album most jazz-rock influenced number. 'Afternoon In Milan' clearly spotlighted Trimarchi's fluid and melodic guitar, but the secret ingredient on this one was actually McCord's innovative bass. This one offered up the mix of technical virtuosity and commercial edge that a guy like Jeff Beck has never managed to find.
4,) Love and Understanding (Ralph Trimarchi) - 4:15 rating: *** stars
In spite of being smothered in guitar synthesizers and another flat Trimarchi vocal performance, 'Love and Understanding' stood as one of the album's more commercial numbers.
I can't say this was a great album that I'd include in my pile of treasured vinyl, though I will tell you it's one of the better taxscam releases I've come across and certainly one of the best Rocking Horse albums. Good luck finding a copy.
Trimarchi's remained active in music and current works as a sales manager for the New York-based New Sensor Corp which specialized in electro-harmonix tubes and effects (yes you can still buy vacuum tubes).
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