Wilkinson Tri-Cycle

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1969)

- Michael Clemens -- drums, percussion
- David Mello -- lead guitar 
- Richard Porter -- vocals, bass 



H.Y. Sledge (Richard Porter)


Genre: psych

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Wilkinson Tri-Cycle

Company: Date

Catalog: TES-4016

Year: 1969

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

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4935

Price: $90.00


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.

"Wilkinson Tri-Cycle" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) What of I (Richard Porter) - 5:10 rating: *** stars

'What 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.
2.) Leavin' Trunk (Sleepy John Estes) -
 rating: **** stars

Written 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.
3.) David's Rush (David Mello) -
 rating: **** stars

Need 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
4.) Pourscha Poe (Richard Porter) - 
rating: *** stars

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.  

(side 2)

1.) Antique Locomotives (David Mello) -  rating: **** stars

The 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.
2.) 9-5 '59 (Richard Porter) -
 rating: **** stars  

To 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.   
3.) I Like Your Company (David Mello) - 
rating: *** stars

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.
4.) Yellow Wall (Richard Porter - David Mello - Michael Clemens) -
 rating: **** stars

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