Saturday, January 30, 2010

Grand Halls 39

A EUPHONIOUS WAIL – “A Euphonious Wail” CD ’73 (Kapp/MCA, US) – You know what I’m going to do now, don’t you? “Yep, Ray” you say, “You’re going to launch into one of your patented 3-paragraph intros to this review, somehow interconnecting a story from your past with your acquisition of this album.” Well, I dunno, maybe you could consider it that. Really what I want to do is thank my ol’ bud Andre’ for turning me onto this one…and a bunch of other stuff over the course of the last few years. See, one of the things that has happened with me especially of late is that in my efforts to stay on top of what’s currently going on in the underground of music, I’ve tended to overlook my forays into the dusty bins for “new” old stuff. Thanks to my man, Dr. Dre’, I’ve been kept “in the know,” so to speak, with a host of gorgeous gems from the vaults. One of them is this eponymous (and only) effort from California-based quintet A EUPHONIOUS WAIL.

Composed of Doug Hoffmann (drums), Bart Libby (keys), Suzanne Rey (vocals), Steve Tracy (guitars, vocals) and Gary Violetti (bass), EW (unfortunate abbreviation, I know!) had a moniker that fit the bill. The reason I say that is, Suzanne Rey’s vocals are a major factor in this album from beginning to end. “Euphonious” means “pleasant to the ear” and when you put that together with “wail,” you get a real nice handle on Suzanne’s pipes. Ironically, opening song “Pony” doesn’t see her letting loose all that much. She and Tracy harmonize nicely as the song launches into a driving Purple rhythm topped with a Lordian Hammond-fest by Libby. Tracy’s hypnotic guitar figure completes this one. It’s with the 2nd cut, “We’ve Got The Chance” that Rey comes into her own. Set on a bubbling boiler and accompanied by some luscious organ swells, Suzanne lays down a sultry siren song that has probably made more than one man lose his concentration. The guitar fills by Steve T here are highly reminiscent of Bloodrock’s axe guru, Lee Pickens. After the heartfelt ballad “Did You Ever,” wherein Tracy’s Clapton-like vox go down smooth, the WAIL shift into a higher gear with the mega-original “When I Start To Live.” A Southern hard rock feel (that will occur more & more frequently) takes center stage., with the “Hallelujah” part of the vocal sporting a real cool Gospel vibe.

And now, folks, it’s time to get heavy! “F#” comes on like gang-busters with a nasty riff that reminds me of a brutal Point Blank song (think “Uncle Ned,” from “Second Seasons”). The lead guitar freak-out over top a neck-snapping stop-start rhythm at the end is awesome and I wish it had gone on a bit longer before the song fades out. To be honest with you, I’m not sure why somebody would name a song “Chicken” (especially a good one!) but this one is, and it picks up with the mauling lead guitar of Steve Tracy that ended it’s predecessor. A long instrumental section featuring a duel between heavy-ass 6-string bending and jabbing organ begins this mutha-clucker, draped over a fast-paced jazzy rhythm. Around 2:50, the band shift into a stomping “I’m-gonna-tell-you-what,-boy!” vocal tour de force from Suzanne Rey. This lady has a voice that lived halfway between Janis Joplin and Anne Wilson and I’m captivated, that’s for sure!

With the final 3 songs of the album, A EUPHONIOUS WAIL bring things home in fine flourish. “Night Out” slides in like a heavy Rory Gallagher blues. Man, Rey is just wailing here, what a set of lungs! Some of the best guitar on the album resides in these grooves, with the middle solo opening on slide, then slipping into a raucous lead paint peeler. The bottleneck returns for a killer nod to Brother Duane at the end. More smoldering bluesy smoke is on offer with “Love My Brother” before EW just “hit it” with the closing ballad, “I Want To Be A Star.” Here Rey and Tracy try to outdo each other, soaring vocals matching scalding axe leads note for note in a track wrung dry of all emotion by it’s end.

The unfortunate part of this story is that this self-titled record apparently fell on completely deaf ears at it’s time as it and it’s author’s fell deep into the realms of obscurity and were never heard from again. It’s for that reason I owe a big huge thanks to my buddy Dr. Dre’ for bringing this one to sit in it’s rightful place in The Grand Halls. Get out there and find yourselves a copy as this, my friends is the good stuff. A Wail Of An Album

NOTE: If anyone has any info on activity by any of A EUPHONIOUS WAIL’s band members beyond this record (especially vocalist Suzanne Rey) please let me know!


J.B. said...

Great record and write-up, Ray! Thanks!

raysrealm said...

Give my bud Andre' props on this one!