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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rovers 3 - s/t

Name: Rovers 3
Album: s/t
Year: 1963
Style: Vocal Group, Folk, Bluegrass
Similar Bands: Kingston Trio, Bachelors
One Word Review: Old Time Vaudevillian Troubadours
Based Out Of: Haddonfield, NJ
Label: self-released
 Rovers 3 Cover & Record
Rovers 3 Back & Record
Rovers 3 (1963)
  1. Battle Cry 2:49
  2. One More Time 2:45
  3. Mountain Dew 2:43
  4. Searchers Wind 2:39
  5. Holler Tree 2:01
  6. Of Coming Home Safely 4:20
  7. New Frontier 2:17/
  8. At Home You Sit And Cry 3:07
  9. Medley of Sea Chants (Capital Ship / Prayer / Rollin' Home / The Whale) 8:04
  10. His Return 4:40
  11. Hammer Song 2:49

Album Rating (1-10): 7.0

Members & Other Bands:
Bruce Robinson - Banjo, writer, Vox
Pete Schaff - Guitar, Vox
Donald Grimme - Vox
Lem - Artwork

Unknown-Ness: I've never heard of the band. But I imagine I’m pretty close to my estimate when I guess it was a male vocal group focusing on traditional or folksy numbers. I don’t imagine much variance in the style song to song, but I imagine it will be solid. I like the simple hand drawn artwork, too.

Album Review: There was not much research out there on this trio, but I did find that they were all 1964 Haddonfield High School graduates, and with this being recorded and released in 1963, was before they moved on. That’s a pretty bold thing, to release an album while still in Highschool. Apparently, Schaff has the mastered tapes, and has created a couple copies of the album, as well as other material they recorded about the same time for sale via e-mail contact.

“Battle Cry” begins as one would imagine the traditional song to, with a rolling marching drum. The revolutionary sing along is well done with rich harmonic melodies clearly recorded in the forefront, and bolstered by folksy banjo. After two rushed verses, the song slows down for a more sentimental variant on the same melody. It begins to pick up toward the end, bringing it back to the energetic rollicking melody from the beginning.
“One More Time” starts with a relaxing moonlight river rowboat guitar and a gently swaying melody. It is a very calm and harmonized wandering love song.
“Mountain Dew” is a traditional song, with an obvious stand in term for bootlegged liquor, and the song features energetic vocals and plucked banjo, giving the image of the song sung on a southern country shack porch. There are playful and well timed hoots and hollers in the background. The melody is a short campfire sing-a-long. The song ends with a harmonized crescendo of the title, with a “whoopee” thrown in for good measure. I have to include the fact that Ween does a great version of a variant of this song.
“Searchers Wind” is a solo sung love ballad, with deep vocals and an enchanting guitar. The accompanying vocals only offer a light hum in the background.
“Holler Tree” is a group sung folk song with energetic banjo and lively vocals. It is a simple, repeating and rolling melody, but that is all you need when it is done this well.
“Of Coming Safely Home” has a slow, deep, vocal only intro, and it blossoms into a smooth, poetic folk song. It has a nice combined melody, where one voice out of the group will break out of the pack to offer his solo. It is bold and confident. The song begins to slow down, as if to end, but it only serves as a vocal transition to a similar yet different section, before returning to the familiar group vocals with the one breakout spot lit vocal.
“New Frontier” starts as a harmonized acapela. Then the banjo is added, and the vocalists take turns for the verses, but all come together for the chorus. The song slows down a little to a steady marching pace, which quickly winds down to an all-stop when the song ends

“At Home You Sit And Cry” is a psychedelic folk apology to a girl left behind. It creates a smooth and windswept setting of departure and excitement of journey from the singer’s perspective. It gives the image of an era of discovery and pre-automobiles; heading out west on a wagon.
“Medley of Sea Chants” contains 4 songs, all sea shanties. The first is a bit Popeye like with a bunch of speed up and slow down transitional sections. The next part to the medley is a quieter solo ballad. It builds in volume and the soothing guitar plays on a 3-note loop. It quiets down into whistles and the third section begins with a single voice singing a solemn melody coupled with haunting oh-oh’s in the background, and it tells of rolling home to England. Then a brash transition of energy and a spark of emotion start the fourth section of the song, which is a story about brave sailors that encountered a whale. It is a show tune style song.
“His Return” shifts back to a solemn emotion, with a western prairie whistle highlighting the melody in the background. The harmonized vocals transition in and out of group vocals into solo singers once in a while. For a song predicting a soldier’s return home, the tone is very sad and reserved, perhaps preparing for the worst.
“Hammer Song” is the familiar Pete Seeger “If I Had A Hammer” song. There is a bit of optimism in the song, and the first verse features hammer head on steel metronome percussion. This is swapped out for drum and banjo in the second verse. The third verse quiets down a little more, and is a little more soulful. After the third verse, the vocals come together in a harmonized melody that grows in boldness and strength. 

Stand Out Track: Mountain Dew

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