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Live In The Attic

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Album Review

Mighty Baby's music wasn't extremely similar to the Grateful Dead's, but there are similarities in how their music is presented and received, albeit on a much, much smaller scale than the Dead's. Much of Mighty Baby's material was based around loose, semi-improvisational grooves combining numerous styles; their cult of fans, though far less numerous than the Dead's, exhibits similar ardor for their heroes; and that passion simply doesn't translate to many outside of the cult, who are a bit puzzled as to what the fuss is all about. All of the above applies to this extensive (63-minute) CD of previously unreleased material, recorded in 1970 between their two official LP releases. The first three tracks, in decent fidelity, are taken from a live gig in support of Love in March 1970, highlighted by the nearly 15-minute instrumental "Now You See It," which fuses their love for John Coltrane's Indian-influenced jazz with more rock-oriented instrumentation and rhythm. In contrast, the two other songs from that concert, "Stone Unhenged" (another instrumental) and "Sweet Mandarin" (which, like all of the songs on this disc, were not included on their pair of official LPs) are run-of-the-mill country-blues-rock — the kind of thing you could imagine an obscure local support band to the Grateful Dead playing in 1970, for instance. The remainder of the CD was cut in the studio soon after the March 1970 concert, and is devoted mostly to the four-part, 40-minute improvised instrumental "Now You Don't." This again draws from both the exotic jazz of Coltrane's final years and the more straightforward power of psychedelic rock, and fairly impressively, rather in the way — as much as some Mighty Baby fans might find the comparison odd or inappropriate — Soft Machine did on their early-'70s jazz-rock recordings. Closing the set is another cut from those studio sessions, the brief and seemingly incomplete "Winter Passes," which heads off in another direction, its mellow early-'70s-styled rock with Crosby, Stills & Nash-ish harmonies gliding into an extended, laid-back, instrumental jazzy passage. The extended instrumental pieces far outdistance this CD's vocal numbers in quality, and partly for that reason, on the whole the disc is erratic enough that it can't be considered on a par with the albums Mighty Baby officially released at the time. But as none of the songs appear on these albums, and those instrumental numbers in particular show sides of the band not fully displayed on those LPs, this should be considered as a vital missing piece to the Mighty Baby discography by fans of the band, if not quite something that could be considered an actual fully developed, unreleased album.


Formed: 1965

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s

The British psychedelic band Mighty Baby grew out of the Action, the North London-based R&B outfit signed to Parlophone by George Martin in 1965. Long considered one of Martin's best discoveries this side of the Beatles, the Action consisted of Reggie King (vocals), Alan King (guitar), Pete Watson (guitar), Mike Evans (bass), and Roger Powell (drums). After Watson left in 1967, he was succeeded by keyboardist Ian Whiteman and blues guitarist Martin Stone, a veteran of the Savoy Brown Blues Band....
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Live In The Attic, Mighty Baby
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