10/14/2009

Pacific Gas and Electric - Are You Ready/Pacific Gas and Electric (1969-1970) (2CD Digipack Remaster 2005)


This 2005 German remastered release contains Pacific Gas & Electric's second and third albums, 1969's Pacific Gas & Electric and 1970's Are You Ready, were their two most popular LPs, and are reissued together as a two-CD package with historical liner notes.

The history of Pacific Gas and Electric can be traced back to 1967 in Los Angeles. Self-taught guitarist Tom Marshall met bassist Brent Block at a party thrown by Block's former art teacher. The band they started was called "Pacific Gas and Electric Blues Band", one of the first, if not the first interracial band to hit the LA music scene. One of the early members was a drummer from the east coast named Charlie Allen. Charlie's vocal abilities were so great that he was relieved of his drum sticks, and became lead singer and front man, to be replaced on drums by Canned Heat's former drummer, Frank Cook, who had earlier signed on to manage the band. By 1968, the band name was shortened to Pacific Gas and Electric, and included Allen, Cook, Marshall, Block, and guitarist Glenn Schwartz. They released their first album, "Get It On", that year on the Kent label (it was subsequently released on Big Orange and Power Records as well). Although it only reached #159 on the album charts, someone at Columbia Records was listening, as they signed the band to a recording contract shortly after their appearance at the Miami Pop Festival in December of 1968. The band did countless concerts, often appearing with other big musical acts of the era. On April 25, 1970, racists in Raleigh, North Carolina heckled the band off the stage. When the members were driving away, they came under gunfire. Despite four shots hitting their van, no one was hurt. It was at one P G & E show that writer and film producer Lawrence Schiller filmed his documentary "The Lexington Experience". Disagreements with the owners to the rights to the music caused the film to be shelved after only a few showings, and the only copies known to exist are in Schiller's vault. They made more movie history when they appeared in and provided music to the Otto Preminger film "Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon" starring Liza Minnelli. After 1972, the group's lineup became unstable, resembling more of a Charlie Allen solo project. One more album was forthcoming "...Starring Charlie Allen" in 1973 on the Dunhill label, featuring Charlie and a host of studio musicians..D. Jellinc

Pacific Gas & Electric's second and third albums, 1969's Pacific Gas & Electric and 1970's Are You Ready, were their two most popular LPs, and are reissued together as a two-CD package with historical liner notes (in English) on this German release. On most of Pacific Gas & Electric, they play soul-rock with some dash and verve, though the songwriting isn't up to the level of musicianship or Charlie Allen's genuinely soulful vocals. Pacific Gas & Electric are really a band that would be better served by a selective compilation than any of their individual LPs, and strong candidates for such an anthology would include "Death Row #172" and "Bluesbuster," which are a little like early Blood, Sweat & Tears with more blues-rock and less bluster. Some of the other songs are closer to average period blues-rock workouts, like "Miss Lucy" and the live cover of John Lee Hooker's "She's Long and She's Tall," though the group original "My Women" finds them getting into a slow blues-funk groove with graceful style. The four-part, 17-minute "PG&E Suite" is typical of the highs and lows of many such psychedelic rock experiments of the late '60s, starting off promisingly with the cinematic jazz-rock instrumental "The Young Rabbits." But it runs off the rails with too much drum soloing, and the momentum utterly drains when the suite peters out into poor white-boy blues that's obviously trying to be drolly humorous, yet ends up being painfully lame. The closing blues-soul-rock stomper "Redneck" restores the energy level somewhat, but it's an erratic record on the whole, as would be its follow-up, 1970's Are You Ready. Anchored by their sole hit, "Are You Ready?," it treads a thin line between eclecticism and confusion, and is actually weaker on the whole than its predecessor. Certainly the ominous yet inspirational gospel-funk-psychedelia of "Are You Ready?" was the strongest track, and to this day the only one that most casual rock fans remember. Yet other cuts on the album indicated they couldn't decide whether to be a heavy blues-rock group ("Hawg for You"), a more soul-dipped version of the Band ("Staggolee"), a swampy soul-rock outfit (a cover of the Isley Brothers' "The Blackberry"), or, least convincingly, cry-in-your-beer honky tonk balladeers ("Mother, Why Don't You Cry?"). This wouldn't have been such a handicap if the material wasn't as mediocre as it was, and any song titled "Love, Love, Love, Love, Love" is a warning that lyrical imagination wasn't in abundance on the day it was composed. They do play the James Brown-psychedelic rock fusion card with some gusto on "Elvira," and Charlie Allen's vocals are pretty soulful, though it's only on a cover of Percy Sledge's "When a Man Loves a Woman" that they come to the fore in a no-nonsense manner...R. Unterberger

Line-up:

*Charlie Allen - Vocals
*Frank Cook - Drums
*John Hill - Piano, Organ
*Glenn Schwartz - Lead Guitar
*Brent Block - Bass
*Tom Marshall - Rythm Guitar

320 @
186 MB
2000mustangs

Are You Ready (3nd album - 1970)

01 Are You Ready? 5:46
02 Hawg for You 4:42
03 Staggolee 3:49
04 The Blackberry 5:31
05 Love, Love, Love, Love, Love 3:51
06 Mother, Why Don't You Cry? 5:06
07 Elvira 1:58
08 Screamin' 4:27
09 When a Man Loves a Woman 4:31

Pacific Gas & Electric (2nd album - 1969)

01 Bluesbuster 2:55
02 Death Row #172 3:55
03 Miss Lucy 2:28
04 My Women 5:35
05 She's Long and She's Tall 6:18
06 Pacific Gas & Electric Suite - Medley 16:41
07 Redneck 3:30

2 comments:

peter said...

Couldn't agree with you more, there are some mediocre songs but, for me the 2 stand out tracks, the title
track "Are You Ready" , "love, Love, Love, for me the guitar solos in both those 2 tracks are amazing, very bluesy, with a hard rock edge. Around
the late sixties and very early 70's
everyone was influenced by that
"Hendrix" sound,Although they sound a little outdated "Are you Ready" still chills when you turn up the
volume and listen to that solo scream, good stuff

RXeckless said...

Great Albums, Thanks
Away great to see someone else who loves of the old bands like P,E, & G. Other I love in the same genre Rufus & War.