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Stray Dog - WHile You're Down There (LP)

Stray Dog - WHile You're Down There (LP)

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Genre: rock
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title:  While You're Down There
Company: Manticore
Catalog: MA6-501S1
Year: 1974
Country/State: US / UK
Grade (cover/record): VG / VG
Comments: minor ring and edge wear; DJ sticker on front cover
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 6181
Price: $10.00

While recording their sophomore album at L.A.'s Record Plant, producer Austin Godsey put the band in touch with Buckwheat Honey vocalist/guitarist Timmy Dulaine (aka Tim Harrison). Having been raised around Austin, Texas Dulaine and Walden were longtime friends and by coincidence Dulaine was in in the process of recording a solo album with Godsey. Walden apparently asked Dulaine, to demo some of his material for the band. Impressed with his material, Dulaine was promptly asked to join Stray Dog, as was sessions keyboardist Luis Cabaza.

top left to right: Cabaza - Roberts - Walden
botton left to right: Dulaine - Sampson

Co-produced by Godsey and the band, 1974's "While You're Down There" found Dulaine taking over the bulk of song writing chores (previously handled by Roberts and Walden). The personnel changes also saw a significant change in the band's sound. Cabaza and Dulaine gave the second album a much fuller sound, but in the role of prime writer, tracks like 'Words To Say Goodbye' and 'Dreams & Junk' saw Dulaine introduce a far more commercial sound. This change in direction may have posed a problem for fans of the debut's rugged, under-produced blues-rock attack - especially since Walden was largely relegated to supporting role. As lead singer Dulaine also gave the album a certain polish that was absent from the debut. That added polish came with a price; at times Dulaine sounded a bit like David Coverdale which pushed the band in a Whitesnake direction.

- One of the tracks Dulaine had written for his planned solo album, 'Calamity Jane opened the LP with some pounding Walden wah-wah guitar and Cabara's barrelhouse piano. The result was a catchy AOR rocker that showcased Dulaine's gritty voice (though he sounded like he was trying a bit too hard). I always smile when I hear the lyric "she loves The Beatles and Genesis ..."). rating: ** stars
- With Walden providing a catchy riff for the track, 'Bits & Pieces' was a surprisingly commercial number - complete with radio-friendly harmonies, it's always surprised me that this one wasn't tapped as a single. rating: *** stars
- 'Bits & Pieces' morphed into the Alan Roberts penned instrumental 'Pieces' which served as a showcase for Cabaza's piano and Walden's achingly pretty guitar. Perhaps the album's prettiest composition. rating: **** stars
- I'm not sure who handled vocals on the slinky blues-rocker 'I Would ' but the song's rawer edge made for a nice change of pace. rating: *** stars
- The ballad 'Words To Say Goodbye' aptly displayed the group's commercial side. With a delicate melody, pretty group harmonies, and a stunning Walden solo, the result was another radio friendly track that would not have sounded out of place on a Peter Frampton solo album. rating: *** stars
- 'Junkyard Angel' found the band straying into REO Speedwagon territory. Plodding and predictable, this one didn't do much for me. rating: ** stars
- 'Very Well' apparently morphed out of an earlier Tim Harrison Group composition. Musically this one saw the band added some modest Styx-styled progressive moves into the mix. At least to my ears the results were quite nice. Great melody with nice multi-tracked vocals. rating: *** stars
- Another big, AOR ballad 'Dreams & Junk' was certainly professional, but lacked much in the way of originality. I've listed to the song dozens of times and at various times its reminded me of everyone from REO Speedwagon to Molly Hatchet. rating: ** stars
- Penned by Walden, the extended instrumental 'Worldwinds' found the band diving headlong into progressive mode. Complete with Cabaza synthesizers, this one was unlike anything else on the album (or the debut for that matter). Fans of the band's blues-rock roots were probably appalled by it. Personally I thought it was kind of interesting. rating: *** stars

The album was certainly inconsistent, but these guys certainly had the talent to hang with far more successful AOR outfits. Shame they weren't given an opportunity to record another collection and perhaps a more appropriate balance between the debut's tougher sound and the second LPs commercial leanings..

With little promotional support from Manticore which was then distributed by Motown, the band did some local shows in support of the album. Needless to say the collection vanished without a trace. Within a couple of months Stray Dog was over.

"While You're Down There" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Calamity Jane (Timmy Dulaine) - 4:18
2.) Bits & Pieces (Timmy Dulaine) - 2:50
3.) Pieces (instrumental) (Alan Roberts) - 2:08
4.) I Would (Alan Roberts - Leslie Sampson) - 3:48
5.) Words To Say Goodbye (Snuffy Walden - Timmy Dulaine) - 5:23

(side 2)
1.) Junkyard Angel (Timmy Dulaine) - 2:40
2.) Very Well (Timmy Dulaine) - 4:04
3.) Dreams & Junk (Timmy Dulaine) - 4:15
4.) Worldwinds (insrumental) (Snuffy Walden) - 7:14

Dulaine's went on to a solo career and has a website at:

Roberts was briefly a member of Avalon.

After the band called it quits Warren joined a reunited Free where he replaced an incapacitated Paul Kossoff. He also worked with Kossoff in Back Street Crawler. He was a member of the Eric Burden Band, recorded some solo material and then went on to enjoy considerable success working in film and television - he's scored music for the likes of "The Wonder Years", "thirtysomething" and "The West Wing". He has a nice website at:
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