Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1969)
- Michael Clemens
-- drums, percussion
- H.Y. Sledge (Richard Porter)
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Title: Wilkinson Tri-Cycle
Country/State: Long Island, New Jersey
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: still in shrink wrap; only opened to listen and tape; includes lyric insert
Catalog ID: 4935
The first couple of times I played this one it just didn't do much for me. I'm not sure what the disconnect was. Perhaps the set's rather barebones sound? Luckily I put it in my 'revisit' stack and when I came back to it I started to discover the set's considerable charm.
In terms of biographical information most of what I know comes off of the album liner notes. The trio featured drummer Michael Clemens, guitarist David Mello and bassist Richard Porter. Apparently from Long Island they captured some attention playing local clubs like The Golden Pheasant and Smithown's Oak Beach Inn. Opening a couple of Boston performances for The Velvet Underground saw them signed by CBS's Date subsidiary.
Released in 1969 "Wilkinson Tri-Cycle" was co-produced by Warren Schatz and Stephen Schlake. All three members contributed material to their sole album, though Mello and Porter were separately responsible for the majority of the eight tracks. Exemplified by a nice remake of Sleepy John Estes' 'Leavin' Trunk' and the original 'Antique Locomotives' musically the set offered up an engaging mix of heavy blues-rock. That was rounded out by more trippy, pseudo-psych numbers like 'What Of I' and the atypical heavily orchestrated 'Pourscha Poe'. Unexpected jazzy touches were icing on the cake. Other positive attributes included some great guitar work from Mello. Check out his work on the rocker '9-5 '59' and 'I Like Your Company'. With the exception of the heavily orchestrated 'David's Rush' the material boasted surprisingly memorable melodies. In the negative column the trio lacked a truly distinctive lead singer. The limited liner notes didn't credit vocalists, but Porter seemed to handle most of the vocals. Also their overall sound was occasionally a bit thin giving the impression this was recorded quickly and without a lot of post-production touch up. Curiously, a couple of reference works I've seen describe material like 'Pourscha Poe' and 'Yellow Wall' as being Beatlesque (always a creative kiss of death). Wrong. Think along the lines of late-1960s San Francisco bands and you'll be closer to the mark. Unfortunately Date did nothing to promote the album so sales proved limited with the band calling it quits before they could release anything else. Too bad since these guys had considerable talent.
Porter reappeared the next year as a member of the Tampa-based H.Y. Sledge.
1.) What of I (Richard Porter) - 5:10 rating: *** stars
of I' sported a nice melody
with Mello's jangly lead guitar reminding me a bit of The Hollies' 'Bus
Stop'. Mashing up pop, rock and jazz influences, the song had a great
refrain (though I always wondered why it wasn't entitled 'Runaway').
The mid-section morphed into a pretty ballad, before returning to the more
pop orientation. The only thing it didn't have going for it was a strong
lead vocal. Porter gave it his best shot, though the female backing
singer merely served to underscore his shortcomings.
by Sleepy John Estes back in the 1930s, I actually knew this song through
Taj Mahal's cover. While Mahal's growling cover gets the nod (it's on his
1967 self-titled LP), credit these guys for covering a great blues tune and
for giving it a slinky, totally appealing arrangement. Kicked along by
some tight Clemens drummer, it was one of the album highlights. Only
wish it had been longer.
an acoustic ballad that simply drips pain and hopelessness? Well
'David's Rush' is a great place to start. And it get's even darker when
Stephen Schlaks orchestration kicks in. This one could give Roger Waters a
run for his money in the depression sweepstakes. Not the song to
get the party started. LOL
Who let the stoned Monks into the studio? After the calming, meditative introduction 'Pourscha Poe' picked up the pace, adding a healthy dollop of Clemen's pounding drums and Poretr's acid-tinged guitar to the start and stop mix.
1.) Antique Locomotives (David Mello) - rating: **** stars
title makes me smile and as one of the album's more commercial and
conventional rockers, so does the song. This was also one of the
tracks that showcased Clemens' kick-butt drumming, Robert's melodic bass and
the band's overlooked harmonies. Nice performance and Date should have
tapped it as a single.
my ears '9-5 '59' reflected a distinctive late Cream blues-rock vibe.
Porter's hyperactive bass reminding me of Jack Bruce's melodic moves. The
end stages of the tune revealed some of the album's more
psychedelic-tinged jam performances. Never quite figured out the end-of-song
alarm clock sound effects.
It opened up
sounding like a slice of hardcore blues but then morphed into a far more
commercial slice of top-40 pop-rock. Yeah, a little short on
originality and the lyrics were sophomoric, but the refrain was cute and
Mello's solos were nice.
Opening up with some dark atmospheric chord changes and an odd falsetto vocal, it took me a couple of years to figure out the song was about a visit to the dentist. Easily the album's most lysergic-tinged performance, 'Yellow Wall' is also the album's lost treasure. I guess I'm not shocked to discover the American Dental Association never adopted 'Yellow Wall' as their theme song.
I think this is the Facebook page for guitarist Mello who appears to be living in Maine and playing in local restaurants and clubs: : (1) David Mello - Bluesman | Facebook
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