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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Blues Project - Projections

Name: The Blues Project
Album: Projections
Year: 1966
Style: Psychedelic Rock & Blues
Similar Bands: ? & the Mysterians, Box Tops, Doors, Rolling Stones
"One Word" Review: psycolk rock
Based Out Of: New York City
Label: Verve Folkways, MGM
Projections - Cover & Record
Projections - Back & Record
Projections (1966)
  1. I Can't Keep From Crying 4:25
  2. Steve's Song 4:55
  3. You Can't Catch Me 4:14
  4. Two Trains Running 11:20/
  5. Wake Me, Shake Me 5:15
  6. Cheryl's Going Home 2:35
  7. Flute Thing 5:58
  8. Caress Me Baby 7:12
  9. Fly Away 3:30
Album Rating (1-10): 7.5
Members & Other Bands:
Roy Blumenfeld - Drums (Seatrain)
Danny Kalb - Guitar, Vox
Steve Katz - Guitar, Vox (Even Dozen Jug Band, Blood Sweat & Tears)
Al Kooper - Keyboards, Vox (Bob Dylan, Blood Sweat & Tears)
Andy Kulberg Bass, Flute (Seatrain)
Marcus James - Producer
Tom Wilson - Producer
Jerry Schoenbaum - Production Supervisor
Val Valntine - Director of Engineering
Ken Kendall - Cover Design
Jim Marshall - Cover Photo

Unknown-ness: I never heard of these guys. But from the album design, liner notes and attire, I thought this might be a great bluesy (obviously) rock band from the late 60’s. I bought it under the idea that they’d be a garage band, with similar style to the Stones or Animals. From their clothing on the front alone, I figured this would be a great album. Also, the candid pictures on the back personalize the band, as was the “thing to do” to put a band in touch with the public back in the late 60’s. Some of the long song lengths made it a bit daunting, but I was prepared to buy this record anyway. This record and time period are a bit outside my area of musical prowess.
Album Review: From the first notes, “I Can't Keep From Crying” has the garage rock band sound I’d associate with ? & the Mysterians, a heavier sounding Beatles, or the Box Tops. The organ, groovy bass and electric guitar lay down a catchy rhythm that has long since been lost and over produced. The vocals are reserved and seem to be struggling for air. There is an amazing electrical effect breakdown about 2:30 into it unlike anything I’d ever expect to hear from the mid-late 60’s. Track 2 “Steve's Song,” starts with light guitar picking and a flute. It begins as a renaissance love ballad. The music comes together and picks up the energy a bit with the second run through, and it retains the very folksy quality. Jim Morrison-style psychedelic vocals begin about 2 minutes into the song. They are deep, carrying with them a confidence of a matador-poet. “You Can't Catch Me” comes next with a guitar and bass intro which delves into a honky-tonk, comic bar brawl romp. “Two Trains Running” is an eleven and a half minute slow bluesy craw. Emotionally fragile vocals roll along the stumbling sounds from the organ, bass and guitars. This is the sort of song one would expect from their band name. And to complete the stereotypical blues song, a sad harmonica is added around five minutes in. it is quite mesmerizing ad the song repetitively moves along, and the organ whizzes up a storm, but this is still not my favorite style of music.

“Wake Me, Shake Me” starts with a distinctly Motown bass beat and the style does not let down with maraca shakers and upbeat guitars. It has great call and response vocals in the chorus. The organ picks up and displays the basic melody very well, and the tambourine is a classic exciting effect. It builds greatly around 3:30 with “I gotta say yeah” and it explodes for a flurry before returning to the same basic style. “Cheryl's Going Home” is a short pop single, with a fun and bouncy melody, and it is strangely psychedelic without losing the deepness in vocals or musical depth. “Flute Thing” is very jazzy & bluesy instrumental. Many of the instruments we’ve heard take terns in center stage to display their jazz abilities. And the bouncy organ keeps everything going and in line. “Caress Me Baby” is the follow up to “Two Trains Running” with slow bluesy Hendrix style vocals, a tinkling piano, and a slow drum/bass meandering groove. The harmonica takes over at the end of the song, pouring energy into the slow backing groove balancing the energy taken and given ratio. Finally, “Fly Away” brings the folkier side of harmonica playing to the table introducing the song with a Monkees “Pleasant Valley Monday” type groove and melody. Not to mention the Tom Jones / lounge singer bass line & hi-hat.
The genres on his album are quite different, yet they all carry behind it some level of psychedelic organ. From slow blues to intense blues to poppy garage rock to medieval folk, it is all here, and done very well. It is too vast for one intake for me, and the eleven + min song is just too long for my taste. But when they hit their stride, they surely excel.

Stand Out Track: Wake Me, Shake Me

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