Mountain - Climbing!Mountain - Nantucket Sleighride

Mountain - Climbing!
Mountain - Nantucket Sleighride

(Columbia/Legacy)

First Appeared at The Music Box, June 2003, Volume 10, #6

Written by John Metzger

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Guitarist Leslie West wanted to form a band that would sound as good as Cream. Upon realizing that old friend Felix Pappalardi had produced Creamís Disraeli Gears, West re-established contact with him, and together they crafted Westís solo debut Mountain. Taking that title as the moniker for their new band, the duo ó along with keyboardist Steve Knight and drummer Corky Laing ó quickly recorded and released Climbing!, the ensembleís official debut.

Thereís no question that Mountain tapped into the heavy thunder of Creamís powerhouse attack, particularly when Pappalardi echoed Jack Bruceís elegant bass lines and dreamily emotive vocals. Both The Laird as well as the Bruce-penned Theme for an Imaginary Western were virtually indistinguishable from Creamís own material. Even Mountainís now classic rock staples Mississippi Queen and Never in My Life retained Creamís heady reverberations while adding a splash of pure, New York grit. Elsewhere, the acoustic instrumental To My Friend gave an Eastern-twist to Led Zeppelin, while Silver Paper invoked The Who. Itís a shame that only one bonus track was included on the recent reissue, for Mountain was a formidable live act, and further supplemental material would have been a welcome addition, making up for the brevity of the album. Nevertheless, the single concert cut For Yasgurís Farm demonstrated how well the band exploited the contrast between its soaring psychedelic explorations and its aggressive sonic onslaught.

Although Mountainís next album Nantucket Sleighride was also a commercial success, the album didnít live up to the promise of the bandís debut. While still a solid effort, Nantucket Sleighride lacked the organic edginess of Cream and mutated into fairly typical, early í70s hard rock. Nevertheless, there are a few moments that do stand out. Drummer Corky Laing injected some much needed energy into the furious Donít Look Around as well as the title track, which foreshadowed the art-rock arrival of Rush. Also notable was the autobiographical The Animal Trainer and the Toad ó an affectionate, if passive-aggressive, ode to bandmate Felix Pappalardi, who by the time of its recording was imposing more and more control over the group. Unfortunately, the rest of the album rolled by rather unremarkably, though the previously unreleased concert rendition of Traveliní in the Dark ó again, itís disappointing that only a single bonus cut was included  ó gloriously showcased Mountainís colossal live sound.

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Climbing! ó starstarstarstar

Nantucket Sleighride ó starstarstar

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Climbing! is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!

Nantucket Sleighride is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!

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Ratings

1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!

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Copyright © 2003 The Music Box