Friday, June 10, 2016

Weekend Mix: Now I Know High

 "The Grape's saga is one of squandered potential, absurdly misguided decisions, bad luck, blunders and excruciating heartbreak, all set to the tune of some of the greatest rock and roll ever to emerge from San Francisco. Moby Grape could have had it all, but they ended up with nothing, and less."
                                                                                                                       -Jeff Tamarkin

Peter Lewis – rhythm guitars, vocals
Jerry Miller – lead guitars, vocals
Bob Mosley – bass, vocals
Skip Spence – rhythm guitars, vocals
Don Stevenson – drums, vocals

Their first album, "Moby Grape" (1967) is widely recognized as a classic.
While recording their second in New York City, Skip Spence's schizophrenia began to take over. Famously chopping down a band member's hotel room door with a fire axe. He was committed to Bellevue for six months while Moby Grape soldiered on, finishing "Wow" (1968). Skip never returned to the band full-time. While incarcerated, he wrote enough songs to record "OAR" (1968), in Nashville, playing all the instruments. It's an un-hinged masterpiece, in many ways similar to Syd Barrett's post Pink Floyd albums.

Then came "Moby Grape '69", "Truly Fine Citizen" (1969) also recorded in Nashville, and finally,
"20 Granite Creek"(1971). Although Spence was no longer in the band they included him when possible, depending on his health. 

This compilation covers their initial run. 

They have disbanded and reformed many times, and often having to use a fake name as their  manager, Matthew Katz, hung on their contract like a drowning man to a log, or worse, a sociopath. They signed their contract under duress, with a large dollop of naivete, resulting in not even owning the name Moby Grape.

From wikipedia:
"Matthew Katz insisted that an additional provision be added to his management contract, giving him ownership of the group name. At the time, various group members were indebted to Katz, who had been paying for apartments and various living costs prior to the group releasing its first album. Despite objecting, group members signed, based in part on an impression that there would be no further financial support from Katz unless they did so. Neil Young, then of Buffalo Springfield, was in the room at the time, and kept his head down, playing his guitar, and saying nothing. According to Peter Lewis, "I think Neil knew, even then, that was the end. We had bought into this process that we should have known better than to buy into."

Due to continued legal battle between the band and Katz over ownership of their name, pseudonyms were used during several decades for performance or recording purposes; including Mosley Grape, Legendary Grape, Maby Grope, Fine Wine, and The Melvilles.

Moby Grape today:
Peter Lewis – rhythm guitars, vocals
Jerry Miller – lead guitars, vocals
Bob Mosley – bass, vocals
Joseph Miller – drums (son of Jerry)
Omar Spence – vocals (son of Skip)
Don Stevenson – drums, vocals (guest appearances)

They were all incredibly talented, and Jerry Miller deserves to be included in any conversation about guitar heroes.


Now I Know High


snakeboy said...

Their 69 and 71 albums had some gems. Thanks for including them.
Nicely put together.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Thanks! Those gems are some of my favorites.

Ken D. said...

Another band that I just never knew much about. No particular reason except I can't listen to everything. Thanks, Buzz, for helping me catch up. (Also enjoying the Little Feat comp a lot.)

buzzbabyjesus said...

Thanks Ken D, I'm fairly certain you'll like this one just as much.

whattawino said...

Thanks for a nice dose of The Grape.... really lovin' this comp. And I'd like to strangle that manager asshole for screwing these guys over to this day.

Bombshelter Slim said...

Amazing how many times over the years the conversation turns to the "San Francisco Sound" and when somebody mentions the Grape, eyebrows go up and we all say "whoa!!"

Dr Wu said...

Only know this band by 'legend'. Skip Spence the same. Looking forward to this mix as my intro. Thanks for your efforts. Have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

Wow--really enjoying this, this fine afternoon. "Moby Grape" is a name I've heard and read about since the 70s, but it's not until today in 2016 that someone said, "Here, listen to this." Thank you. I love this place.


Robin said...

The Grape! Love it, it's perfect. I second loving the Little Feat comp as well.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! Hands down the best band to come out of the '60s San Francisco "scene". Shoulda been huge! I still search for the odd bootleg when I can find them.

dogbreath said...

Not overly familiar with this band. Back in the early 70s I had the import version of the 1st (or maybe 2nd) album, in a really thick cardboard sleeve with the corner clipped & a hole punched through the record's label. I remember more about the packaging than the music(!) so this comp should fill me in (and I'm told I should be filled in). Great artwork too - many thanks!