This album’s music was made in 1970 – it’s therefore not surprising that you don’t find raging power metal here, but rather relaxed yet still often unbound heavy rock with fiery guitars – and organ music – as evidenced by the totally exploding end part of “River”, the opening track.
The disc’s sound does not conform to today’s standards, but it is lively and honest, and you get the feeling that the band is standing right next to you.
Sleepy John was still operating on the threshold of the psychedelic bands of the 60’s to the hard rock of the 70’s.
Extensive, mind-bending jams and solos that rob you of your senses are as much part of the repertoire as are straight-line-like, aggressively driven moments of penetrating melodies.
Especially the often ecstatically whirling drummer is absolute ear candy, yet only a small part of the whole experience.
The pieces are playful, but flow forward naturally and stay reconstructable. A few freaky parts here and there do not interrupt the flow.
Even when the guitar does not sound badly distorted, the ardent way in which it is worked evokes a sense of immense power.
Every so often the fuzz box is turned on and a sizzling distorted sound sneaks in and cuts right into your belly.
After two hard rock pieces, every band needs a break, so a ballad, heavy on melancholy and furnished with rich organ arrangements is just the right thing.
Even here are moments where the band steps up the drama by increasing the volume, but these moments then give way again to softly floating passages.
Or, take note of the frenzied leads in the absolutely crazy instrumental middle passage of “Dragons” which produce an almost hypnotizing effect.
Hard rock is not the only style aid here; threads of softer, swinging songs with a somewhat fluid expression are also weaved in.
That’s the way it was back in 1969/70 – to not think and compose one-dimensional, but to create a salient point in the material to unify it.
When you compare this band to current mainstream rock music, you should – your face distorted with disgust – turn your naked ass to today’s modern, uninspired plastic shit, to say it bluntly.
Today, they either use demented screaming, bored droning on or whining. In contrast, take the almost floating “Seasons” where the middle part integrates passages which sound like Eastern European folk music and psychedelic heavy rock, and the band ability to change back and forth without missing a beat.
That song alone has more diverse passages than many bands have in their entire discography: It swells, becomes highly intensive and brings you toward ecstasy, flows into more floating moments, falls into playful parts with twisted bridges, then mysterious and dark, then rocks and culminates in a scream and fiddling guitar after the folk music-like middle. Wow, I gotta sit down.
The song “Losing my plow“. A song placed somewhere between Country and Slapstick, “Losing my plow”, follows. Hard-core rockers with blinders on are probably screaming now, but as a comedic interlude I find it rather refreshing.
In their playful way, Sleepy John fall in with high-class bands. They continually add ideas that make for very diverse material -- this naturally requires a certain level of immersion on the part of the listener.
I think it’s fair to say that for hard rock fans listening to this disc is like running a gauntlet.
There are bluesy interludes that are so mischievous that they take on a parodic character – yet, the band does this with such honesty and authenticity which makes it very believable People who dare go near such a multi-layered band with a like CD should add Sleepy John and their so-named debut-CD to their shopping list.
It’s truly great fun to listen to the four young men’s performance.
Unfortunately, Sleepy John never had the good forture of a regular publishing then, only in 2004 the US Label Gear Fab burnt the two recording sessions from the 70’s into a CD.
The result speaks for itself. Liner and booklet are nicely done, with band history and illustrations. And with 73 minutes it’s not too short.
02. Al Capa Strong
05. Prelude to a Dream
07. Losing My Plow
08. Hard Workin' Woman
09. I Just Happen to Be (In Love With You)
10. Monday Blues
11. You Say
12. Trying to Fly
13. Blue Sky
15. Searching for the World
*David Lee - Hammond organ and Vocals
*Frank Trowbridge - Guitar and Vocals
*Jim Bartlett - Bass
*Tom Williams - Drums
[ Rip and Scans by LARRY ]
click here(password is phrockblog)