Reviewed on this page:
Steve Knight (electric organ), Felix Pappalardi (bass, vocals, mellotron), Norman "N.D." Smart (drums), Leslie West (guitar, vocals).
Smart replaced by Corky Laing, late 1969 (after Woodstock but before the group's first official album).
Knight replaced by David Perry (rhythm guitar), 1974; Perry replaced by Bob Mann (guitar, keyboards), Laing by Alan Schwartzberg, later in 1974.
Mountain (Leslie West: 1969)
After Cream evaporated, Eric Clapton went back to the blues, Ginger Baker opted for endless jamming,
and Jack Bruce went fusion, but unofficial fourth member Felix Pappalardi immediately set out to form another power trio. He rescued lioned-voiced, amp-busting Leslie West
from Long Island's wretched, Animal-like Vagrants, recruited N.D. Smart II to play drums, and handled bass himself. Trouble is, Pappalardi and
Smart stay in the background, leaving everything on West's shoulders, and at this point his guitar style is little more than imitation Clapton (the "White Room" clone "Baby I'm Down"). Since the
band never really rocks out, there's not enough contrast between the hard numbers and the dreamy acoustic stuff ("Dreams Of Milk And Honey"). Fortunately, the running times are kept short, so they
can cram eleven tunes onto the disc, West's heavy riffing is passable, and his bellowed vocals are terrific.
Most of the songs are by Pappalardi and West, working with either Pappalardi's wife Gail Collins, or with keyboardist Norman Landesberg and somebody named Ventura -
there's also a cover of Dylan's "This Wheel's On Fire," and West contributed the closing "Because You Are My Friend."
Confusingly, this is credited as a solo West project, though he and Pappalardi immediately formed another - and
markedly superior - power trio called Mountain, with Corky Laing replacing Smart.
N.D. Smart is on drums. (JA)
"THIS RECORD WAS MADE TO BE PLAYED LOUD" indeed!
The creation of guitarist Leslie West and former Cream co-conspirator Felix Pappalardi, Mountain had quickly reached a mass audience with a hard rock formula that recalls both Cream and early Led Zeppelin ("For Yasgur's Farm").
Powerhouse drummer Corky Laing adds an inordinate fondness for cowbells to Ginger Baker's thunderous style, West is a top-notch twiddler and blues howler, and Pappalardi creates a psychedelic sensibility with bass, occasional keyboards, and a passable, Eric Clapton-like tenor (the only non-factor is variably present organ player Steve Knight).
This time around they scored a huge hit with the lumbering blues-rock classic "Mississippi Queen," a two-minute wonder of explosive dynamics and unforgettable hooks.
Most of the rest is in the same vein, and it usually works ("Never In My Life"; "Sittin' On A Rainbow").
And on side 2 they show some flexibility: West shows off with an Eastern-flavored acoustic guitar solo ("To My Friend," a la "White Summer"), and Pappalardi dishes out a sleepy, Donovan-like hippy folk song ("The Laird") and an acid rock mini-epic ("Boys In The Band").
They even perform a post-Cream Bruce/Brown composition ("Theme For An Imaginary Western").
It's all good clean fun - recommended for anyone who enjoys late 60s hard rock.
Pappalardi's wife Gail Collins did the cover artwork and wrote many of the lyrics; years later she shot him to death in a domestic dispute. (JA)
Nantucket Sleighride (1971)
I've heard some of the tracks on their greatest hits album. (JA)
Flowers Of Evil (1971)
Apparently cobbled together from a half-finished album and a concert tape (both dating from 1971), this is a remarkably entertaining listen.
Side 1 includes more of the psychedelic hard rock that made Climbing! so much fun (title track).
Pappalardi again dominated the songwriting, again often working with Gail Collins, who again did the artwork.
It's good, but unremarkable: "One Last Cold Kiss" is a medieval folk melody arranged as another swaggering rocker; "Crossroader" is a Clapton-style blues with a smoking slide guitar part; "Pride And Passion" drowns a memorable, high-speed Steve Knight organ riff with an indulgent multi-part arrangement.
Side 2 starts with a 25-minute segment that's dominated by elephantine jamming, but also includes a Chuck Berry cover ("Roll Over Beethoven") and a "Voodoo Chile"-like blues-rock anthem ("Dreams Of Milk And Honey"), and ends with a solid version of "Mississippi Queen."
I wouldn't expect too much out of this, but if you like the band you can't go wrong. (JA)
The Road Goes Ever On (1972)
Laing and West were off on a two-album side-project with Jack Bruce, so the record company put out this full-length live record.
That would be fine, except that all of side 2 is one track ("Nantucket Sleighride"), and side 1 has just three ("Long Red," from West's 1969 solo album; "Waiting To Take You Away," which I think is new; "Crossroader"). (JA)
In 1973 the group released a greatest hits package that had five tracks from their debut, four from Nantucket Sleighride, and three from Flowers Of Evil. (JA)
By now they'd dumped Knight and replaced him with guitarist David Perry.
If I'm not mistaken there are two prominent cover versions: "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and "Satisfaction." (JA)
Twin Peaks (1974)
The group was having pretty rapid personnel turnover this year; West and Pappalardi were joined on their last album together by new players on guitar (Bob Mann) and drums (Alan Schwartzberg).
Later the same year, Laing and West were featured on a live West-Bruce-Laing album; West cut two solo albums in 1975 and then disappeared for a decade. (JA)
Go For Your Life (1985)
The group's first reunion album, immediately following Pappalardi's death in 1984.
Ex-Uriah Heep member Mark Clarke is on bass.
After this West released a steady stream of solo and "Mountain" albums. (JA)
Live! (Leslie West: 1993)
Rather like Jeff Beck - to whom tribute is paid here on "Goin' Down" - Leslie West has refined his
precision and tone over the years without sacrificing flash, so that he sounds more like a heavy metal hotshot than Classic
Rock old guard.
No big surprises on the set list, which is mostly Mountain hits - "Theme For An Imaginary Western"; "Nantucket Sleighride";
"Mississippi Queen" - plus a Willie Dixon blues ("Third Degree") and yet another version of
"Voodoo Chile" - nothing wrong with a Hendrix homage, but I wish West had
picked "Gypsy Eyes" or "Ezy Ryder" or something Stevie Ray Vaughan hadn't already
made us all sick of.
The rhythm section is Richie "The Bat" Scarlet (bass) and The Right Reverend Paul Beretta (drums), and they stay the hell
out of West's way.
Over The Top (1995)
Another greatest hits record, this one with two new tracks featuring Laing, West, and Noel Redding on bass. (JA)
Man's World (1996)
I think Clarke is back on bass here. (JA)
Insert snappy link here.