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The Gathering Grey
7" - colour vinyl
Part of Fruits de Mer's '7 and 7 is' box-set, The Gathering Grey reinterpret two tracks by Moby Grape, the first taken taken from their 1967 debut album and the second from their third LP 'Moby Grape '69':
'Sitting By The Window'
'I Am Not Willing'
ONLY AVAILABLE AS PART OF THE '7 and 7 is' BOX-SET - GO TO THE FdM SHOP TO PLACE AN ORDER
Moby Grape is an American rock group from the 1960s, known for having all five members contribute to singing and songwriting and that collectively merged elements of folk music, blues, country, and jazz together with rock and psychedelic music. The group continues to perform occasionally.
As described by Jeff Tamarkin, "The Grape's saga is one of squandered potential, absurdly misguided decisions, bad luck, blunders and excruciating heartbreak, all set to the tune of some of the greatest rock and roll ever to emerge from San Francisco. Moby Grape could have had it all, but they ended up with nothing, and less."
The group was formed in late 1966 in San Francisco, at the instigation of Skip Spence and Matthew Katz. Both had been previously associated with Jefferson Airplane, Spence as the band's first drummer, playing on their first album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, and Katz as the band's manager, but both had been dismissed by the group. Katz encouraged Spence to form a band similar to Jefferson Airplane, with varied songwriting and vocal work by several group members, and with Katz as the manager. According to band member Peter Lewis, "Matthew (Katz) brought the spirit of conflict into the band. He didn't want it to be an equal partnership. He wanted it all."
The band name, judicially determined to have been chosen by Bob Mosley and Spence, came from the punch line of the joke "What's big and purple and lives in the ocean?". Lead guitarist Jerry Miller and drummer Don Stevenson (both formerly of The Frantics, originally based in Seattle) joined guitarist (and son of actress Loretta Young) Peter Lewis (of The Cornells), bassist Bob Mosley (of The Misfits, based in San Diego), and guitarist Skip Spence. Spence, now on guitar instead of drums, was a major force in the Grape. Jerry Miller and Don Stevenson had moved The Frantics from Seattle to San Francisco after a 1965 meeting with Jerry Garcia, then playing with The Warlocks at a bar in Belmont, California. Garcia encouraged them to move to San Francisco. Once The Frantics were settled in San Francisco, Mosley joined the band.
While Jerry Miller was the principal lead guitarist, all three guitarists played lead at various points, often playing off against each other, in a guitar form associated with Moby Grape as "crosstalk". The other major three-guitar band at the time was Buffalo Springfield. Moby Grape's music has been described by Geoffrey Parr as follows: "No rock and roll group has been able to use a guitar trio as effectively as Moby Grape did on Moby Grape. Spence played a distinctive rhythm guitar that really sticks out throughout the album. Lewis, meanwhile, was a very good guitar player overall and was excellent at finger picking, as is evident in several songs. And then there is Miller, "The way they crafted their parts and played together on Moby Grape is like nothing else I've ever heard in my life. The guitars are like a collage of sound that makes perfect sense."
All band members wrote songs and sang lead and backup vocals for their debut album Moby Grape (1967). Mosley, Lewis, and Spence generally wrote alone, while Miller and Stevenson generally wrote together. In 2003, Moby Grape was ranked as number 121 in Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Noted rock critic Robert Christgau listed it as one of The 40 "Essential Albums of 1967". In 2008, Skip Spence's song "Omaha", from the first Moby Grape album, was listed as number 95 in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time".
In a marketing stunt, Columbia Records immediately released five singles at once, and the band was perceived as being over-hyped. This was during a period in which mainstream record labels were giving previously unheard-of levels of promotion to what was then considered counter-cultural music genres. Nonetheless, the record was critically acclaimed and fairly successful commercially, with The Move covering the album's "Hey Grandma" (a Miller-Stevenson composition) on their eponymous first album. More recently, "Hey Grandma" was included in the soundtrack to the 2005 Sean Penn-Nicole Kidman film, The Interpreter, as well as being covered in 2009 by the Black Crowes, on Warpaint Live. Spence's "Omaha" was the only one of the five singles to chart, reaching number 88 in 1967. Miller-Stevenson's "8:05" became a country rock standard (covered by Robert Plant,Guy Burlage, and others).
The second album, Wow/Grape Jam, released in 1968, was generally viewed as a critical and commercial disappointment, even though the album charted at No. 20 on the Billboard Pop Albums charts, partially due to the unusual two albums for the price of one double-album packaging. Though Wow added strings and horns to some songs, their basic sound remained consistent from the debut album, featuring tight harmonies, multiple guitars, imaginative songwriting, and a strong level of musicianship. The album included the track "Just Like Gene Autry, a Foxtrot", a tribute to the ballroom music big band era which was tracked to only be played back properly at the speed of 78 RPM. The Grape Jam LP was one of loose improvised studio jams with outside musicians; this detracted from the stronger tunes on Wow, such as the room-shaking shuffle "Can't Be So Bad." Also in 1968, the band contributed to the soundtrack of the movie The Sweet Ride, and appeared, credited,in the film.
The band was also introduced to a wide group of UK listeners in 1968 through the inclusion of "Can't Be So Bad", from the Wow album, on the iconic sampler album The Rock Machine Turns You On (CBS).
But, amidst this success, troubled times plagued the band when founding member Spence began abusing LSD, which led to increasingly erratic behavior. According to Miller: "Skippy changed radically when we were in New York. There were some people there (he met) who were into harder drugs and a harder lifestyle, and some very weird shit. And so he kind of flew off with those people. Skippy kind of disappeared for a little while. Next time we saw him, he had cut off his beard, and was wearing a black leather jacket, with his chest hanging out, with some chains and just sweating like a son of a gun. I don't know what the hell he got a hold of, man, but it just whacked him. And the next thing I know, he axed my door down in the Albert Hotel. They said at the reception area that this crazy guy had held an ax to the doorman's head."  After spending time in the infamous Tombs jail in New York, Spence was committed to New York's Bellevue Hospital, where he spent six months under psychiatric care.
After the forced departure of Spence, the remaining four members continued recording throughout 1968 and released Moby Grape '69 in January 1969. Spence's "Seeing" (also known as "Skip's Song") was finished by the foursome, and it is one of the highlights. Despite the collaborative effort to complete the song, the songwriting credit was left solely with Spence. Mosley and Lewis wrote some of their best songs for this album. Bob Mosley then left the group, shocking the remaining members by joining the Marines. The remaining three released their final album for Columbia, Truly Fine Citizen, in late 1969.
(taken from Wikipedia)
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