Gar Francis Songbook Volume One by Various Artists
Album Presale: 3.9.18
Official Release Date: 3.16.18
Featuring the following Songs and Artists:
01. Baby Let's Go - Tom Vicario 2:42
02. Come On Come On - The Easy Outs 3:10
03. I Won't Cry Anymore - Genya Ravan 4:35
(Ten Wheel Drive)
04. Satisfied - Tyce Green 4:17
05. Born Dainty - Kelly Caruso 3:44
06. Meet Me - Ricky Persaud Jr 4:12
07. Sweet Sunshine - The Satisfactors 3:38
08. Rush On You - Mark Lindsay 2:40
(former Lead Singer of Paul Revere & the Raiders)
09. A Spy For Love - Mia Moravis 2:32
10. A Special Girl - Jim McCarty 4:45
11. Ballerina Of The Bowery - Jana Peri 4:10
12. Break It Down - Anthony Krizan 4:29
(The Spin Doctors)
13. Fool For Your Love - Crab Bubbles Band 2:47
14. Make Up Your Mind - Inches From Sin 3:24
15. Shine Your Love - Kathryn Shipley 3:53
16. The Hand Of Fate We Hold - The Corridors 3:30
Album Review by The Grouch | In The Rockies
Today is a bit of a special day here in Grouchland. Why you ask? Well, today’s review is of an album of songs, most of which were composed solely by one of my favorite musicians, Gar Francis. For those who do not know, Gar is a wizard of musical creativity. Over the years I have heard many songs from Gar’s colossal body of work and I can honestly say I have not heard anything by Gar that I disliked. This is an album of songs composed either solely by Gar or in collaboration with other talented musicians. This album. at least in my opinion, further solidifies Gar’s position among other behind-the-scene greats such as Bob Ezrin and Mutt Lang.
Track 1 - Baby Let's Go - Tom Vicario 2:42 - This is classic Country Gar and Tom delivers a great rendition. I am a sucker for that twangy guitar. Tom’s voice fits well with this style of music. When the solo kicks in the listener is reminded that Rock and Roll is basically a fusion of African inspired soul and Country. This track reminds me of old Roy Orbison or anyone one of the first-generation rockers. All in all, this is a good song that is played flawlessly by Tom Vicario.
Track 2 - Come On Come On - The Easy Outs 3:10 - The raunchy 60s sound is alive and well in this track performed by the Easy Outs. The music grinds and the old-school licks blister as the organ adds some groove around the edges. This is a dancer’s track for sure. The vocals are spot on as the old time Rock and Roll vibe fills the air. What’s not to love, with wicked guitar licks, a funky bass, a rock-solid drummer and lyrics that state “You make a monkey crazy! Come on come on!” I really like this band!
Track 3 - I Won't Cry Anymore - Genya Ravan (of Ten Wheel Drive) - 4:35 - This is a massive blues jam that I can’t get enough of. Listen to this song and tell me you can’t feel the soul. Genya has a great voice and the backup singers just add to the magic. There is a massive amount of Motown goodness in this track. I want to give a special nod to Genya’s drummer, Bobby Chen. Amazingly, he stands out despite being behind a truly wicked guitar player and some of the most soulful vocals I have ever heard. This is without a doubt a great song.
Track 4 - Satisfied - Tyce Green 4:17 - This track is from the 80s influenced Pop-Metal Gar. The track is performed by Tyce Green and reminds me of the stuff that was popular back in the day. I am thinking of April Wine or even Billy Squire. There is enough rock here for guys to dig it and enough sensitivity in the vocals for their girlfriends to get them to come to the show. In short, this is a good song reminiscent of 1982 which, at least for me, was a very good year. This song is well executed, radio-friendly hard-pop.
Track 5 - Born Dainty - Kelly Caruso (of American Idol) - 3:44 - First things first, I dig the music. It's got an old Charlie Daniels - Skynyrd feel. As an old drummer, I have to say I really like what Keith Reil is doing. I also dig the leads Gar pulls out at the tail end of the song, and some people say Country doesn't jam! When done right, it jams indeed. Kelly has a strong voice that gets better on the chorus. She can sing and seems to have the kind of gutsy attitude that I dig.
Think of a kind of Country Gore Gore Girls and you are on the right track. This is a good song from a young woman with a strong voice and some really good players.
Track 6 - Meet Me - Ricky Persaud Jr 4:12 - It really doesn’t get much better than this. Gar is a fantastic songwriter and there are not many people who can jam as much as Ricky Persaud Jr. I have been a big fan of Ricky’s since I first heard him quite a while back. Simply put the man can do wonders on any instrument he chooses to use, including his voice. The Reggae vibe is strong, and I am brought back to a conversation I had a long time ago with a cat I knew who was playing drums in a Reggae band. He said to me “Once you go Reggae there is no going back.” Listen to this song. When I do I have to admit I have percussion envy.
Track 7 - Sweet Sunshine - The Satisfactors 3:38 - I first heard about the Satisfactors a few years ago. I dig what they do! This is a band made up of a bunch of guys who are bursting with in-your-face soul. The singer sings well. The rhythm section is rock solid, and the guitars are on fire. I dare anyone to listen to this track and not be in a better mood by the end of the song. A long time ago, when the Walkman first came out, I had a friend who would say "Here, have a little Alice. You'll feel better." Then he would give you the headphones and Billion Dollar Babies would blast through your brain. Well, here, have a little Satisfactors. You'll feel better.
Track 8 - Rush On You - Mark Lindsay (former lead singer of Paul Revere & the Raiders) - 2:40 - One word: JAM! This reminds me of something our band instructor back in Jr. High school would say. If we had managed to make some particularly soulful noise Mr. Case would look at us, grin and say in his cigarette damaged voice: Sometimes you cats can wail. Well folks, this track wails!
Track 9 - A Spy For Love - Mia Moravis 2:32 - I had no idea they were making a new James Bond film. They must be because this track is absolutely meant to be the theme song for a James Bond flick. The camp factor is over the top as Mia sultrily sings that she is a Spy For Love. The thing is that despite the intentional campiness and the omnipresent musical kitsch, the music on this track is really well played. Mia has a very good voice and the band actually makes the song groove. (I do have to wonder how many times they had to do a retake because the band was cracking up?)
Track 10 - A Special Girl - Jim McCarty (of the Yardbirds) - 4:45 - The first thing the listener notices is the melodic groove that could easily fit in the background of a cocktail party or with a bunch of young neo-hippies hanging in the park. I actually mean that as a compliment. The music does have some Adult Contemporary overtones that would make a dentist smile, but if you really listen to the track you will hear a subtle, yet smoking guitar. That guitar behind the easy-on-the-ears voice really works together to create something special that just may take a couple of listens to fully appreciate. When all is said and done, I find myself speechless and thinking “now that is one cool way to rock and roll.”
Track 11 - Ballerina Of The Bowery - Jana Peri 4:10 - I dig this song. The Bo Diddley vibe is just too cool. Man, the drummer, Kurt Reil, is laying it down! When you combine those drums with the ultra-raunchy guitar (Gar Francis) the song is mind-bending. Add in the vocals and the track goes from mind-bending to absolutely mind-blowing. This song has anthem written all over it. I dare anyone to listen to this track and not start to groove along.
Track 12 - Break It Down - Anthony Krizan (of the Spin Doctors) - 4:29 - WICKED! Good God I love well-used feedback! The blues simply does not get any raunchier or grittier than this. The cool thing about this track is that while the music is head-splitting level loud and confrontation the vocals are, believe it or not, melodic. The background vocals only add to the contrast of the out of control, fire-breathing dragon on lead guitar. Out of all of the truly fine tracks on this album, this could very well be my favorite.
Track 13 - Fool For Your Love - Crab Bubbles Band 2:47 - The heavy groove continues. There is no doubt that the Crab Bubbles Band can make some noise. The melodic verse is almost a relief from the intensity of the chorus. (Who am I kidding? It can never be too intense!) This song is so good I find myself wishing I was in this band. Excellent work!
Track 14 - Make Up Your Mind - Inches From Sin 3:24 - This song is interesting. On the one hand, it sounds so cheery, but there is a menacing machine-like sound grinding just underneath the pleasant keyboards. I am really curious, given the name of the band, is this a simple love song or do the singers have some darker nefarious purpose in mind for the person they are en-couraged to make up their mind?
Track 15 - Shine Your Love - Kathryn Shipley 3:53 - Kathryn starts out with some really nice soulful keys. I really am feeling a Band groove here. Then the vocals come in. Man, she has a great voice! The background singers definitely add to the soulful vibe. Then it dawns on me this is the stuff all the great Motown singers grew up singing. This song could be from a church service, albeit not the kind I attended as a kid. This song would fit into a church service where the people rock out. You have to listen to the piano (Eric Barfield) runs in this track. The pi-ano, with the organ in the background, the wicked guitar on the edge, the backup singers all provide an outstanding platform for Kathryn to absolutely wail! I dig it.
Track 16 - The Hand Of Fate We Hold - The Corridors 3:30 - The Corridors are a band I quite like. The prowess of their keyboard player is not to be denied. Just when the listener feels immersed in a sea of keyboard produced sound the guitar opens up with a tsunami of laser-guided precession sonic blasts that leaves the listener, well at least this listener, speechless. Over the top of this massively intense yet oddly melodic jam is a voice that is simply awe-inspiring. The man (Adi Mosko) can sing! This is a fantastic track that deserves to be listened to, frequently.
I should mention, as the name of the album is The Gar Francis Songbook Volume One by Various Artists that all of the songs with the exceptions listed below, were written by Gar
Sweet Sunshine by Gar Francis, Bruce Ferguson & Kurt Reil
A Special Girl by Gar Francis & Jim McCarty
Bread It Down by Gar Francis & Anthony Krizan
Make Up Your Mind by Gar Francis, Robert Brewer & Karen Holloway Brewer
The Hand of Fate We Hold by Gar Francis & Richard X Heyman
The bottom line is this is a fantastic album that I am sure will be enjoyable to listen to for years to come. - The Grouch | in the Rockies
Made possible by all artists presented and Bongo Boy Records.
Produced by Gar Francis and Monique Grimme for Bongo Boy Records.
Album Design and Photography: Monique Grimme