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8.2.09

Ten Wheel Drive With Genya Ravan




Ten Wheel Drive With Genya Ravan - Peculiar Friends - 1971 - Polydor

A great album, with amazing vocals by Genya Ravan. Her voice sounds like a mixture of Maggie Bell, Janis Joplin, Maria Muldaur, and a myriad of others. The music here is classified as jazz fusion, but the album has many more musical influences, and covers more musical genres than you will hear on most ordinary jazz rock recordings. There is a lot of brilliant electric and brass playing. The sound of Tower Of Power is in there, as is Blood, Sweat & Tears. There is soul, blues, R&B, psychedelic influences, and more. All the tracks were written by wonderful composers, and there are many unexpected musical twists and turns. Songs rarely take the route you expect them to. You will seldom hear an album that moves from track to track with so much musical inventiveness, innovation, and originality. Genya Ravan could very well be unfamiliar to many music fans, but she has had a huge influence in the music industry over many years. She has played with numerous bands, and with musicians like Dusty Springfield, Buddy Guy, and Steve Winwood. She sang backing vocals on the Blue Oyster Cult album, "Mirrors." The list goes on and on. This album is worh buying, as the bitrate here does not do the album justice. There is a lot going on here sonically, and you really need to hear it in the right sound quality. Genya left the band after this recording, and TWD were never the same. Her unique voice and personality was the band's anchor. There is info on "The Best of Ten Wheel Drive (With Genya Ravan)" @ BOTWDWGR

TRACKS / COMPOSERS

SIDE 1
1 Peculiar Friends - Aram Schefrin/Michael Zager
2 The Night I Got Out Of Jail - Aram Schefrin/Michael Zager
3 Shootin' The Breeze - Aram Schefrin/Michael Zager
4 The Pickpocket - Aram Schefrin/Michael Zager/Genya Ravan
5 No Next Time - Aram Schefrin/Michael Zager

SIDE 2
1 Love Me - Aram Schefrin/Michael Zager
2 Fourteenth Street (I Can't Get Together)
3 I Had Him Down - Aram Schefrin/Michael Zager
4 Down In The Cold - Aram Schefrin/Michael Zager/Genya Ravan

BAND

Genya Ravan - Vocals, Harp
Aram Schefrin - Guitar
Michael Zager - Keyboards
Blake Hines - Bass
David Williams - Drums
Tom Malone - Trombone
Frank Frint , Danny Stiles , Dean Pratt - Trumpet
Alan Gauvin - Reeds

REVIEW

The third and final disc on Polydor from Ten Wheel Drive before Annie Sutton would come in to take over for the irreplaceable Genya Ravan and they would move the organization to Capitol for one more go at it, this is the most sophisticated of the small but cherished output from the ever changing and evolving entity known as Ten Wheel Drive. The pity here is that they had really found their groove on Peculiar Friends.The band blends so nicely behind Ravan's unique and multi-purpose voice, changing genres while exploring the possibilities of a song like "I Had Him Down." They lift a few notes from Blood, Sweat & Tears' cover of the Laura Nyro composition, "And When I Die," but the song mutates before you can hold it down. The key word is "down," and the six-minute "Down in the Cold" rocks -- co-written by the core of the band, keyboardist Michael Zager (no relation to Zager & Evans of "25/25" fame, though many have made that mistake), guitarist Aram Schefrin, and vocalist Ravan. Drummers and bassists and horn players came and went, but the musical vision of the three main partners kept maturing, "Down in the Cold" takes Janis Joplin's drunken barroom "Turtle Blues" and speeds it up a whole lot. Ravan is in total control from the very slick "Shootin' the Breeze," which is one of the most magnificent songs they ever put on plastic, to "Fourteenth Street (I Can't Get Together)." The textures Schefrin and Zager build are the perfect complement to Ravan, and they should have kept this unit together at all costs. The title track is a mere 19 seconds of silliness while "The Night I Got Out of Jail" takes a Beatles riff and tucks it inside an Ike & Tina Turner rave-up. The nine tracks here hardly satisfy fans of early adult rock who would demand more. What they got was "No Next Time," the closest thing to a duet on this album, and a wonderful exercise in stretching the boundaries of pop. This is tough stuff that didn't lend itself to early-'70s radio, but had the potential to move the music from this time period to another, higher level. "The Pickpocket" fuses the hard rock of early Deep Purple from their keyboard heavy Tetragrammaton Days with contemporary jazz. The arrangements and performance here are top-notch, so good that the fact that there would be no more is the most disappointing aspect of Peculiar Friends. © Joe Viglione, All Music Guide, © 2008 All Media Guide, LLC, Content provided by All Music Guide R , a trademark of All Media Guide, LLC.

TEN WHEEL DRIVE BIOGRAPHY

Ten Wheel Drive was a highly influential rock/jazz group not afraid to push the envelope while exploring various musical styles. Though musicians came and went, including the original lead vocalist, by the time the fourth album was released, the records have stood the test of time, influencing the successful Bette Midler breakthrough film The Rose, inspiring women with the drive and ambition to front their own group in a once male-dominated industry, getting sold on auction sites like Ebay to be discovered by new generations of music lovers. The original lead vocalist and founding member, Genya Ravan, spoke with AMG concerning how she formed the band: "I went to see Billy Fields, he was going to manage me. He had a friend in New Jersey that befriended two guys that were writers and they were looking for someone to sing their songs. Billy asked me if I wanted to hear them, I said 'OK' since I was always looking for material, so I met with Mike Zager and Aram Schefrin at a dinky little piano studio in Times Square. They played "Polar Bear Rug" and "I Am a Want Ad" and got me interested even though I thought they sounded more like show tunes, I was also an actress, so I liked it. At this time, I had an R&B band and they came to hear me in some sleazy bar and they liked what they heard and saw. They did not have a band nor musicians in mind, I knew some good jazz players, so (we) got the musicians and started to audition and rehearse." When asked how the idea took shape, Ravan replied: "When I heard Blood, Sweat & Tears -- (the) first record with Al Kooper ( Child Is Father to the Man), my fave. I said, oh I want a horn band. It was 1969, we started to rehearse at the Bitter End, Sid Bernstein joined in the management with Billy Fields. It was a very exciting time, we played the Atlanta Pop Fest. Every great band that lived played that gig, that gig is what broke our band (and) we were an instant success." On the material, Ravan said she "seldom wrote with Ten Wheel Drive...Aram was a brilliant lyricist, Mike and Aram were easy to work with, so I wrote some, it made me feel good, because the ones I wrote turned out to be the most soulful, like "Pulse," "Tightrope." I came into my writing more during the Urban Desire and ...and I Mean It! recordings." Those were the albums that came out on 20th Century Records at the end of the '80s, apart from Ten Wheel Drive. The group signed with Polydor when Sid Bernstein brought Jerry Schoenbaum to the band's rehearsal and to one of their gigs at the Bitter End. The vocalist noted: "Jerry flipped. Signed us immediately." There were artistic consequences to having phenoms like bassist Bill Takas and drummer Leon Rix moving on to LaBelle and Buzzy Linhart, Rix recording with Bette Midler as well. Over the span of four albums, guitarist Aram Schefrin and keyboard player Mike Zager (no relation to Zager & Evans of "In the Year 2525" fame, though because of the point in time, there was some confusion in rock circles) worked with more than a dozen and a half different players. When Ravan was asked about this, she replied: "It turned out to be good for us, fresh blood, it was creative, I love changes like that. I did not like the canning of musicians, but I was the one that had to do it. New blood is always exciting, You know how laid-back jazzers can be, they get excited for the first five minutes." The band played Carnegie Hall on Ravan's birthday and she cites the Central Park gig for WNEW when the Nightbird disc jockey Allison Steele hosted it, as well as the Atlanta Pop Festival as just two of the highlights of their brief but important career. Steele would later co-write the liner notes to Bill Levenson's 1995 16-track compilation on Polygram, The Best of Ten Wheel Drive With Genya Ravan. With all the excitement the band generated live, there was, unfortunately, no full concert performance on video or record. "One of the last gigs we did was a show at Carnegie Hall with a symphony," Ravan said. "Mike and Aram were geniuses. This was their forte -- they wrote this rock opera of "Little Big Horn" and it was brilliant, Polydor did not want to record it, I swear 'til this day, had it been recorded, Ten Wheel Drive would have gone down in history, it was one of the reasons I was disillusioned into leaving the label, it made me want to quit the business." There were no unreleased gems recorded and left in the vaults, Ravan stating that everything happened all too fast. And then she left the group she founded: "Things started to get complicated. The music was not the main thing anymore, it was too expensive to have that many people involved. We had accountants, lawyers, roadies, and of course the group, we could not tour Europe because it was to expensive to get there and stay there. I just felt like there would be no future for me with the band anymore, also some personal stuff went down, that made it awkward. It just felt like it had hit the end for me." Ravan recorded a solo album in 1972 for Columbia Records with Schefrin and Zager co-producing. They enlisted the Rascals vocalist Annie Sutton to sing on the self-titled 1974 Capitol release that featured Hall & Oates on backing vocals, but it wasn't the same. The band created essential music and has a revered place in rock history. Schefrin practices law in Rhode Island, having produced other records after the final breakup of Ten Wheel Drive; Zager does soundtrack work; and Ravan continues to record. © Joe Viglione, All Music Guide



BIO (Wikipedia)

Ten Wheel Drive were an American Jazz/Rock Fusion band from 1968 to 1974. In 1968, after the final disbandment of the all-female rock band Goldie & The Gingerbreads, Genya Ravan was looking for a new band. The same applied for Michael Zager and Aram Schefrin, two musicians and songwriters from New Jersey. Acquainted by their managers, the three musicians who would become the nucleus of the new band had initially some hard work to do. Their origins and artistic backgrounds were very different, and, at first the music was not after Genya Ravan’s fancy. Also, she alone had some noteworthy experience in the music business. More musicians had to be found for the rhythm and brass sections. Only people who were able to read sheet music were contracted. The one exemption from this rule was Genya Ravan. In 1969 the band started to perform regularly and attract positive notice, and comparisons were drawn between Genya Ravan and Janis Joplin. At the same time, the Polydor record label was forming an American division. Its new President, Jerry Schoenbaum, closed a deal with Ten Wheel Drive, and together with producer Walter Raim the band released its first album, Construction #1. The first big concert appearance of Ten Wheel Drive was (arguably) in 1969 at the Fillmore East in New York City. Apart from the band's intense musical presence, Genya Ravan caused some excitement when she took off her transparent vest and continued the performance half naked with painted breasts and shoulders. In the summer of the same year, Ten Wheel Drive appeared at the Atlanta Pop Festival. On this occasion Genya Ravan and Janis Joplin, who previously had often been compared, met in person for the second time. They had met initially at Steve Paul's club The Scene when Janis sat in with the band. In 1970, Ten Wheel Drive released their second album, Brief Replies, with producer Guy Draper. Many of the brass musicians had also been replaced, meanwhile. 1971 saw Ten Wheel Drive performing at Carnegie Hall a rock opera of sorts based on the Battle of the Little Big Horn and the history of the Native North American peoples. The American Symphony Orchestra and a choir participated in the project, which had been meticulously prepared with a lot of time spent for the investigation work. But notwithstanding the provable quality of the material produced, Polydor decided against the recording of the event and was later blamed for bad judgement. Also in 1971, the band's third album Peculiar Friends appeared, for the first time produced by Aram Schefrin and Michael Zager themselves. Genya Ravan’s decision to leave the band and start her solo career at this time, was presumably influenced by the record company’s attitude towards the Carnegie Hall concert. She was replaced by Annie Sutton of The Rascals. But even after this, Aram Schefrin and Michael Zager contributed to Genya Ravan’s first solo album. Ten Wheel Drive left Polydor and in 1974 their fourth and last album, Ten Wheel Drive, was released by Capitol Records. It includes music which had earlier been composed by Genya Ravan and Aram Schefrin. With this record the already loose cooperation between the band musicians ended

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Genya Ravan???!!!! WoW, man!!! What a BIG surprise!!!! Thanks a million!!!
Was so young in '71 when i listen for the first time this band...
Dither from RO

A.O.O.F.C said...

You're v.welcome Dither. Genya seems to be forgotten now, but a great artist with ferocious talent. The seventies was a magical period in music, and so many bands have been neglected by the media. Thanks for comment, and ttu soon

sapito said...

link is dead.
could you please re-up?
i've been looking for this one for quite a long time.
thanks

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi, sapito. Try
http://rapidshare.
com/files/
272057200/1971_-_Peculiar_
Friends.rar

Thanks, and keep in touch

radioshirley said...

Thanks for posting, AOOFC!

Lovely!

A.O.O.F.C said...

Thanks radioshirley. Love your site. Thanks for link to aoofc. I've reciprocated it. ATB!

Stathis said...

Hello,

can you please repost this LP?

Thank you very much
Efstathiou Stathis

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,Stathis. I haven't got the original album to repost. Perhaps somebody reading this could help with a link. Thanks...Paul