The Staehely Brothers
Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1973)
- All Staehely -- vocals, guitar, bass, percussion
- John Staehely -- lead guitar, keyboards, harp
backing musicians: (1973)
- John Errisson -- percussion
- Venetta Fields -- backing vocals
- Stoop Hairy -- drums, percussion
- Clydie King -- backing vocals
- John Locke -- keyboards
- The Nick Gravenites and John Cipollina Band (Al Staehely)
- Spirit (Al Staehely)
- Al Staehely (solo effort)
- Al Staehely and the Explosives
- John Staehely and Mark Singer
Rating: 3 stars ***
Country/State: Austin, Texas
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: timing strip on cover
Catalog ID: 2588
Every time I start to think I know a great deal about rock and roll, something comes along to show me how wrong I am. Case in point - The Staehely Brothers. I was at a yard sale when I spotted "Sta-Hay-Lee". I'll admit to buying the album based on the cool Pacific Eye & Ear designed cover. I'm a big Spirit fan and didn't even make the connection that Al and John Staehely had been second generation Spirit members (Al wrote most of the material on 1972's "Feedback"), until I got home and actually spent some time looking at the liner notes.
Co-produced by The Staehelys and Alex Kazanegras, "Sta-Hay-Lee" was a bit more conventional and commercial than anything in the Spirit catalog. Brother All was responsible for most of the nine tracks (John did a lot of the arrangements), with Spirit keyboardist John Locke contributing two songs to the album. For anyone expecting to hear another Spirit album, be warned that Locke's 'Concrete and Steel' came the closest to replicating Spirit's loose, pseudo-jazzy catalog. Otherwise tracks like 'Future Shock', 'Woe Is Me', and 'Rockin' In the Bush' fell firmly into that mid-'70s blues-rock, bar rock genre that you either love, or find mindless and plodding. Coupled with Al's distinctive Texas twang, I fall in the former category, liking the album quite a bit. Nah, musically it wasn't groundbreaking, but it was consistent and enjoyable with the ballad 'Woman In Love' and the blues-rocker 'Soldiers In the Night' providing two of the highlights. Epic did next to nothing to promote the album; instead focusing on the next Spirit album. I'm not sure this one has ever been reissued.
"Sta-Hay-Lee" track listing:
1.) Future Shock (Al Staehely) - 4:00 rating: *** stars
'Future Shock' started the album off with a decent bar band rocker showcasing Al's likeable voice, penchant for catchy melodies, and John's epic lead guitar.
2.) Concrete and Steel (John Locke) - 4:27 rating: *** stars
One of two tracks penned by former Spirit keyboardist John Locke, 'Concrete and Steel' had kind of a loose and jazzy vibe that's always reminded me of something out of Spirit's catalog. That was meant as a complement. The song's weak spot came in terms of the vocals (Al and John sharing the duty). Muddy and distant, the vocals sounded like they'd been recorded over a long distance phone line during a heavy rainstorm.
3.) Woman In Love (Al Staehely) - 2:51 rating: **** stars
Showcasing Al's acoustic guitar and the brothers' sweet harmony vocals, 'Women In Love' started out as a pretty, but somewhat anonymous ballad. And then the backing kicked in and the lyrics took off in a dark and disturbing direction. Great broken romance tune and one of the album highlights.
4.) Woe Is Me (John Locke) - 5:00 rating: *** stars
The in studio talk was a bit distracting and it awhile for the song to actually kick in gear. When it did, 'Woe Is Me' was a pedestrian boogie rocker with some distracting Gospel-tinged backing vocals.
5.) Loco Motive (Al Staehely) - 1:58 rating: ** stars
Dead-styled country, which might be most notable for a lyric that included a reference to Neiman Marcus ... 'Loco Motive' did nothing for my ears.
1.) Soldiers In the Night (Al Staehely) - 3:54 rating: **** stars
Nice blues-rocker that wouldn't have sounded out of place on an early Free, or Bad Company album. One of the album's highlights, it should have been tapped as a single. No idea when it was recorded, but YouTube has a live clip of Al and John performing the tune at a small Texas club: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxci0spiDQY
2.) Captain Zombie Meets Unfellini (Al Staehely) - 3:52 rating: **** stars
Slinky rocker that showcased John's overlooked fret prowess. One of those songs you'd like to have a bit of insight into ... what in the world was this one about?
3.) Rockin' In the Bush (Al Staehely) - 4:04 rating: *** stars
'Rockin' In the Bush' was a heavy blues-rocker with some goofy lyrics. Hum, on the opening they sounded a bit under the influence ..
4.) You Won't Be Sorry (Al Staehely) - 4:17 rating: **** stars
Another ballad, but with a wonderfully dreamy melody, this one was very FM-commercial. Probably Al's best vocal. The guy's Texas twang was awesome.
For anyone interested, Al has a small website at: http://www.alstaehely.com/
I found an email Al sent to an Australian band Spirit had toured with back in the mid-'70s. Hopefully he won't mind me cribbing it since it provides a perfect career summary for the man:
Over the years whenever I've met someone in the music business from Australia I always ask if they know you. It finally paid off. Glad to hear you and Bill are still at it. John and I have fond memories of our adventures down under with Spectrum & T.I. Murtceps. That was the last tour we did as Spirit. What followed was a Staehely Bros. album on Epic that didn't do much and then some really lean years in L.A. while I was trying to get a solo deal. I finally got one, started the album and half way into it the record company went out of business. Back in Texas in '79 I started practicing law but continued with music until my son was born in '85. During that time I did a couple of tours of Europe with John Cipollina & Nick Gravenites. We did an album in Germany and I also had a solo album released in Germany on Polydor in '83. I don't play professionally anymore but still try to keep the old artistic machinery oiled, in shape and ready to inflict my songs on whomever is present after a couple of glasses of wine. I don't have any immediate plans to come your way but would love to make the trip again.
Al Staehely February 2007
I might add that he and John are again actively playing. You can see numerous clips on YouTube. No idea how old they are, but time has been kind to both. They still sound great. I would love to check out one of their sets.
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