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Essra Mohawk


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Essra Mohawk - Essra Mohawk - 1974 - Asylum

Essra Mohawk has never recorded for the same record label more than once, but it's rarely affected the consistency of her songwriting. Here, she left behind the free-form, rambling qualities of her earlier work, and, working within slightly more conventional rock confines, rocked 'n' rasped her own inimitable way through ten finely crafted psych-pop gems, as well as one frenetic take on Gershwin's "Summertime." "New Skins for Old" starts as the album means to go on: "Can we doubt when we don an old animal skin/that it's really a previous state we were in"; birth, death, reincarnation and the universe are the album's recurrent themes. Despite its muscled-up rock power, the set also captures Mohawk solo at the piano for "You're Finally Here" and "I Cannot Forget," two warm, candid love ballads. Porgy and Bess fans may balk at her unusual treatment of "Summertime," but approached without prejudice, it's a fine tribute. As usual, though, it is the romantic, spiritual and sensual imagery that never fails to impress. "Openin' My Love Doors" is a case in point -- Mohawk describes a post-coital moment of bliss ("We made love while the clouds cried/Now the birds sing as we lie side by side") and runs with it throughout the song. A great achievement from start to end, and Mohawk at her vivid and insightful best. © Charles Donovan © 2011 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/album/essra-mohawk-r44941/review

Legend has it that when Essra was on her way to play at the original Woodstock festival, she arrived too late due to her driver taking a wrong turn. Joni Mitchell is supposed to have based her classic "Woodstock" song based on Essra's "bad day". This 1974 s/t album from Essra Mohawk is nearly as good as her 1970 "Primordial Lovers" album. Great lyrics, songs, and outstanding musicianship from artists including Larry Carlton and Dean Parks on guitar, and Tom Hensley on piano and keyboards. The album is not as much in the rock, soul, and jazz mould of "Primordial Lovers" but the quality of the songs is outstanding. Essra even covers The Gershwin's "Summertime" with a new slant. Some of Essra's unorthodox compositional methods are missing from this album, but in 1974 most artists were adapting their music styles, sometimes unconsciously, to suit the time period. It has been called a "psych pop" album but definitions are useless when applied to music. This is not a "sell out" album. It still retains Essra's unique songwriting skills. Like her previous "Primordial Lovers" album, this one received the same lack of promotion. As a result, sales suffered despite some excellent reviews. Listen to Essra's brilliant "Primordial Lovers" album, and if you can find it, her rare "Sandy's Album Is Here At Last" album from 1969

TRACKS / COMPOSERS

1 New Skins for Old - Essra Mohawk
2 Openin' My Love Doors - Essra Mohawk, Tom Sellers
3 Full Fledged Woman - Essra Mohawk
4 You're Finally Here - Essra Mohawk
5 Summertime - George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, Dubose Heyward
6 Back in the Spirit - Essra Mohawk
7 You Make Me Come to Pieces - Essra Mohawk, Kenny Jenkins
8 I Cannot Forget - Essra Mohawk
9 Song to an Unborn Soul - Essra Mohawk
10 If I'm Going to Go Crazy With Someone, It Might As Well Be You - Essra Mohawk, Tom Sellers
11 Magic Pen - Essra Mohawk

MUSICIANS

David Kempton - Piano
King Errisson - Conga, Percussion
Essra Mohawk - Keyboards, Piano, Vocals
Larry Carlton, Dean Parks - Guitar, Guitar (Rhythm)
Tom Sellers - Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Piano (Electric)
Wilton Felder, Dennis Parker - Bass
Tom Hensley - Keyboards, Piano
Ed Greene, Gene Pello, Skip Switzer - Drums
James Zitro - Drums, Drums (African)
Gene Estes - Percussion
Bert Wilson - Sax (Tenor)
Kenneth Jenkins - Flute

BIO

Singer/songwriter Essra Mohawk (b. Sandra Elayne Hurvitz, Philadelphia, PA) is a performing songwriter and recording artist whose career encompasses a who's who of popular music. In addition to releasing several critically acclaimed solo albums, she has collaborated with Al Jarreau, Bonnie Bramlett, Al Stewart, Narada Michael Walden, and Keb' Mo'; provided background vocals for John Mellencamp, Jerry Garcia, and Kool & the Gang; and written songs for Cyndi Lauper and Tina Turner. She released her first single, "The Boy with the Way" with B-side "Memory of Your Voice," on Liberty Records in 1964, under the name Jamie Carter. She later declined several offers of staff writerships, although the Shangri-Las and Vanilla Fudge began recording her material. In 1967, Mohawk met Frank Zappa, eventually joining the Mothers of Invention, where she reluctantly assumed the moniker Uncle Meat. Zappa signed her to his Bizarre label (a Verve subsidiary) and her first album, Sandy's Album Is Here at Last!, appeared soon after and remains the only album released under her birth name. It was during this period that a studio receptionist friend began calling her "Essie," a nickname that quickly morphed into "Essra." In 1969 she married Frazier Mohawk, the producer of her second album, who had worked on Nico's The Marble Index. Their working relationship spawned Primordial Lovers, hailed as one of the 25 best albums ever made by Rolling Stone magazine. It missed out on wider publicity and never charted, but gradually developed a strong following over the ensuing decades. Further interest in Mohawk's music was prompted in the mid-'70s by her appearance on Schoolhouse Rock, the popular educational and musical cartoon TV series. Her vocals were featured on "Interjections," "Sufferin' Till Suffrage," and "Mother Necessity." In 1974, Mohawk moved to the Elektra/Asylum label, where she released Essra Mohawk. The album should, by rights, have consolidated her position in the first league of singer/songwriters, but was insufficiently publicized and distributed, despite its positive reviews. Two years later, the same fate greeted her fourth album, Essra, which appeared on Private Stock. Despite such disappointments, Mohawk's reputation in musical circles was such that from 1980 to 1982 she performed as a background vocalist with the Jerry Garcia Band after narrowly missing out on joining Jefferson Starship following Grace Slick's departure in 1978. Further solo albums Burnin' Shinin' and E-Turn appeared without great fanfare, but in 1986 Mohawk enjoyed a huge hit as the songwriter of Cyndi Lauper's Billboard number three hit "Change of Heart," from Lauper's platinum-selling True Colors album. Later in that decade Tina Turner recorded "Stronger Than the Wind," again penned by Mohawk. After ABC Video released the Schoolhouse Rock cartoons on video in the '90s, the troupe, led by music director Bob Dorough, began performing live. In 1998, Rhino released a new album, Schoolhouse Rocks the Vote!, on which Essra sang, wrote, and produced "Do You Wanna Party," about political parties in the U.S. Having moved to Nashville, Mohawk recorded the albums Raindance and Essie Mae Hawk Meets the Killer Groove Band and then -- starting in 2000 -- her earlier material began appearing on CD. Primordial Lovers was reissued by Rhino Handmade in a luxury package including non-LP singles and the entire follow-up album that had originally appeared on Asylum. Within a few years, additional albums -- including 1976's Essra -- were released as Japanese mini-LP CDs, and E-Turn also appeared on CD. In a phase of prolific creativity, albums including You're Not Alone and Love Is Still the Answer, as well as a career roundup of rarities, Revelations of the Secret Diva, were released. Maintaining her presence in television, Essra also contributed songs to the soundtracks of CBS series Joan of Arcadia and All My Children. Mohawk remains an active live attraction and recording artist. © Charles Donovan © 2011 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/essra-mohawk-p19381/biography

3 comments:

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