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American Standard - American Standard

American Standard - American Standard

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Genre: various
Rating: 2 stars **
Title:  The American Standard
Company: private press
Catalog: DANS-1001/2/3/4
Year: 1970
Country/State: Staten Island, Connecticut
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: gatefold sleeve; double LP
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 255
Price: $60.00

Best time to play: when you seriously want to piss off someone !

This one had been sitting in my "to-listen-to" pile for ages. I think in languished there for such a ling time because of the uninspiring cover art and the fact it was a double LP - having to listen to a double album represents a significant investment of tine and energy. It probably would have stayed in the pile were it not for the fact I happened to discover that there's a write-up on the LP in Patrick Lumborg's essential music reference book, The Acid Archives. Robert Plante did the Acid Archives review and based on his other write-ups in the book, usually nails an album's merits. In this case he liked some of the music, but didn't care for the poetry.

So 1970's "The American Standard" was a double album project released by the Staten Island Community College as a vanity student project. The collection featured a mixture of spoken word pieces, poetry, and music (sides 2 and 4). ranging in quality from horrible (most of the spoken word and poetry), to not bad (the blues track 'Foreign Legion Blues'). Seriously, nothing here was going to change your life and unless you were a hardcore fan of all things early-'70s (or happened to have a connection to the Staten Community College), there probably wasn't going to be a great deal of interest in this package.

- Side one was devoted to a seemingly endless string of original poetry. All of this material was stark and pompous beyond belief. In fact it was hard to pick the worst of the lot; maybe Armand Schwener's contributions. Remember the Swedish chef in The Muppets television show ? Well, significant parts of 'The Tablets' sounded like The Swedish Chef. Runner up was Laura Schaefer who, judging by 'I Miss You', seemed to have some internal anger issues. Actually, the only thing worse than the original material was Paul Costello's awkward reading of 'Death of Ulysses' which was backed by some horrible beat-jazz moves. Damn I hate the flute. Virtually all of this stuff sounded pretty dated and the use of echo and other sound effects didn't exactly endear the performances .... Remember that obnoxious kid in English class who loved classic poetry ? Remember he killed the class grading curve and you just wanted to punch the daylights out of them ? Well, welcome back to that version of hell. Did I remember any of this stuff? Well believe it or not, I did - a snippet taken from 'for the Love of the Incomplete (Part 1) "for the love of strawberry nipples ..." rating: * star
- On the heels of the dreadful poetry, side two's musical interlude was a pleasant change of pace. Yeah, showcasing singer Anthony Duke Salaysie's slightly under whelming voice and the struggling to-stay-in-tune horns, a jazzy cover of Cab Calloway's 'St. James Infirmary' was pretty raw, but ultimately no worse than many other covers of the tune. Curiously the lead guitarist (who was actually pretty good and provided one of the few highlights across the entire album) wasn't listed in the performance credits. Wow, this one also seemed to go on forever. rating: ** stars.
- Were it not for the tuneless horns and the fact it went on way too long, the first section of the instrumental 'Death of the Lord High Executioner' might have been an interesting slab of cocktail jazz. As it was, the uncredited guitarist provided for a few interesting moments and about halfway through the song switched gears, moving to a more rock oriented sound. The lead guitarist continued to save the track, but for this section he at least had some support from bassist Salaysie. Of course you still had to deal with the discordant horns and an irritating flute solo which took over towards the end of the song ...     rating: ** stars
- Well, the title was cool and compared to everything else, 'Foreign Legion Blues' was actually something you could listen to without having the urge to run away. A standard slice of electric blues, vocalist Salaysie sounded surprisingly comfortable in the idiom and once again the anonymous guitar was quite impressive, turning in a killer solo that would have made Canned Heat's Harvey Mandel proud.   rating: *** stars
- The less said about the experimental instrumental sound collage 'The Arm/Invocation and Main Theme' the better. It was long, tuneless, and the combination of aimless noodling, screeching, tape manipulation, and discordant noise was thoroughly irritating. rating: * star
- And just when you'd given up all hope of redemption, along came the original instrumental 'Havens But Not Much'. A chugging, guitar powered instrumental, this one was the album's biggest surprise. Showcasing a mix of acoustic 12 strings and electric guitar was tuneful, energetic and well played. Kudos to guitarists Maurice Oliver, Paul Costello, and Richard Leonard (who also wrote the song).    rating: *** stars
- 'John Riley' found singers Richard Leonardi and Eddie Marshall turning in their best Simon and Garfunkle impersonations. It actually didn't sound too bad ... nice acoustic guitars and their voices blend together well. rating: *** stars
- The cover of Sonny Boy Williamson's 'Ninety Nine' was pleasant, but not particularly impressive. rating: ** stars
- Side four was devoted to another 23 brief poems and spoken word segments. About all I can say is good luck getting through them. rating: ** stars

"The American Standard" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) For the Love of the Incomplete (Part 1) (George Bouquio) 
2.) So Tired Tonight (Bob Baker)
3.) Go To the Circus (Bob Baker)
3.) To Fran (Death of Ulysses) (Joyce - Paul Costello) 
4.) Europe (Paul Cava)
5.) Born Here (Paul Cava)
6.) Waterclock (Paul Cava)
7.) Family Holiday (Paul Cava)
8.) Everybody's (Paul Cava)
9.) The Tablets (Armand Schwener) - 
10.) Spring Fjord (Armand Schwener) - 
11.) Woman's Song About Men (Armand Schwener) - 
12.) Film Poem (Mike Weingard) - 
16.) Wind (Mike Weingard) - 
13.) Thoughts On Diane (Mike Weingard) - 
14.) Lost Streets Strolling (Mike Weingard) - 
16.) Wind (Mike Weingard) - 
15.) One Writes Poetry (Mike Weingard) - 
16.) Wind (Laura Schlater) -
17.) I Miss You (Laura Schafer)
18.) Poem for J (Laura Schafer)
19.) 4 4 4 (Laura Schafer)

(side 2)
1.) St. James Infirmary (Cab Callaway) - 
2.) Death of the Lord High Executioner (Oliver) - 
3.) Foreign Legion Blues (Anthony Duke Salaysie) - 

(side 3)
1.) The Arm/Invocation and Main Theme (instrumental) (Maurice Oliver - Armond Schwerner - Bruce Williams - Carmen A. Hall)
2.) Havens But Not Much (instrumental) (Maurice Oliver - Paul Costello - Richard Leonardi) -
2.) John Riley (traditional)
3.) Ninety Nine (Sonny Boy Williamson) - 

(side 4)
1.) Narcissus (Marty Schiff) -
2.) Night Versus (Marty Schiff) -
3.) Yours Is the Presence (Marty Schiff) -
4.) Harlequin (Marty Schiff) -
5.) What a Way (Chris Thompson) -
6.) Juanita (Chris Thompson) -
7.) Come Marsha (Chris Thompson) -
8.) I was Given (Diane Sweeny)
9.) Wind (Diane Sweeny)
10.) Essence of Smells (Diane Sweeny)
11.) In My Bath (Diane Sweeny)
12.) Waiting (Laura Schafer)
13.) Poem for Dominic (Laura Schafer)
14.) Nigerhrnsaet - a Chance Ballet
15.) Whisper (George Bouquio) -
16.) Father Dumb John (George Bouquio) -
17.) Poem (George Bouquio) -
18.) Strive (Steven Endress) -
19.) Rubbish (Steven Endress) -
20.) Hey Did You ... (Steven Endress) -
21.) Suspend Time (Steven Endress) -
22.) Paradismal Frost (George Bouquio - Laura Schafer) -
23.) For the Love of the Incomplete (Part 1) (George Bouquio) 
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