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Zephyr

Zephyr

Review by Gary Hill

This is a new release of a 1969 album from Zephyr. The mix of sounds here includes a lot of bluesy rock and psychedelia. The two elements that shine the brightest are Tommy Bolin’s guitar work and Candy Givens’ voice. She can be compared with Janis Joplin, but her voice seems to have more range than Joplin. At times she channels Grace Slick and she works beyond both of them. This is a strong album, but the recording seems a little rough around the edges at times. Besides Bolin and Givens, the band consists of Robbie Chamberlin (drums, backing vocals), David Givens (bass and backing vocals) and John Faris (keyboards and flute).

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Sail On

Psychedelia, jam band music and prog all merge on this number. At times the vocals remind me of Grace Slick. At other points they are closer to Janis Joplin. The instrumental section on this, with its fiery organ solo, is a real proto-prog powerhouse.

Sun’s A Risin’
This is very much a straightforward blues rock jam. The vocals make me think of Heart for sure. In fact, it wouldn’t be out of the question to imagine this as some long lost Heart tune.
Raindrops
Somewhere in the more mainstream hard rock vicinity musically, the vocals on this call to mind Joplin quite a bit. I don’t really like this tune very much. Fortunately, it’s not all that long.
Boom-Ba-Boom
This one gets us back into more of the proto-prog type music. There’s psychedelia and jam band sound in the mix here, too. It gets some very bluesy sound built into it, as well. The harmonica solo really brings that part of it to the fore. The vocals are a bit over the top in Joplin style. The organ solo, though, brings us back into that proggy zone.
Somebody Listen
This is very much a blues rocker in the vein of Janis Joplin. It’s a killer tune and features some harmonica. The vocal performance on this is among the best of the set. I love the organ solo, too.
Cross the River
The bass line is on fire on this cut. It starts very much the same as the bulk of the music here, but mid-track they take it out into a killer fusion meets proto-prog styled jam.
St. James Infirmary
This is a killer blues jam. I love the mood of the piece and the vocals lend even more cool to it. They turn it out into jazz later in the piece, though.
Huna Buna
Jazz and hard rocking blues are combined on this cut. It’s literally a screamer.
Hard Chargin Woman
The hard edged, organ blasted bursts of sound on this thing make me think of Deep Purple. Beyond that, though, it’s got a Janis Joplin meets White Witch kind of vibe going. This is a slow moving, powerhouse kind of jam. I really love the organ solo in the later sections of the track.
Bonus Tracks

  

Guitar Solo / Cross the River (Reed s Ranch, Colorado Springs, CO - July 3, 1969)

This guitar solo is very much an echoey kind of space rock exploration. It’s very cool. It gets a lot more rocking and works through a lot of territory before eventually working out to the song proper.

Jam (San Bernardino, CA 1971)
This is very much a fusion type jam at the start. It’s a killer tune. It works out towards harder rock sounds at times, though.
Uptown (To Harlem) (Boulder, CO 1971)
Here we get a smoking hot rocking tune. The vocals seem a little lost in the mix, though. That problem seems to resolve later in the cut and they take this thing though a number of changes. It’s a really killer jam, particularly in the final sections.
Sail On (Tulagi s - Boulder, CO June 19, 1973)
The closer is another Janis Joplin like rocker at its core. It works out into some psychedelic rock for a time, though, Then a bluesy fusion jam ensues. The sound quality on this at times leaves something to be desired, though. There is a bit of a drum solo at the end of the piece.
 
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