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Tom Fogerty - Excalibur (LP)

Tom Fogerty - Excalibur (LP)

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Genre: rock
Rating: ** (2 stars)
Title:  Excalibur
Company: Fantasy
Catalog: F-9413
Year: 1972
Country/State: Oakland, California
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: minor ring wear front and back covers
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 4522
Price: $25.00

Serving as Tom Fogerty's second solo album, 1972's "Excalibur" was pretty darn impressive. Co-produced by Fogerty and Brian Gardner, the set found Fogerty teaming up with what stood as a pseudo-Grateful Dead line up in the form of Jerry Garcia, bassist John Kahn, keyboard player Merl Saunders and drummer Bill Vitt. Low-keyed and casual, musically the album found Fogerty and company offering up a blend of country-tinged numbers (a year in advance of brother John's Blue Ridge Rangers offering), conventional rock, and good time boogie. Highlights include the rocker 'Black Jack Jenny' and the fuzz guitar propelled cover of Bill Monroe's 'Rocky Road Blues'. The only real disappointments were 'Sign of the Devil', the needless slice of formulaic funk 'Get Funky' and the MOR ballad 'Faces, Places, People'. To my ears it's always been somewhat ironic that critics felt free to attack Fogerty for his singing, claiming he lacked brother John's chops. Well, anyone hearing this LP was bound to wonder what the critics were talking about since John and Tom sound virtually identical ...  most folks would have been hard pressed to tell the difference between the two.

- While I'd love to say something nice about the leadoff track, 'Forty Years' was a downbeat, straightforward country track. Yeah, the lyric was quite poignant (especially in this day and age), but Fogerty just didn't have the vocal strength to carry it off. rating: ** stars
- Thankfully 'Black Jack Jenny' was a major improvement - a slinky, fuzz guitar-propelled rocker. Yeah, it could have used a bit more energy, but Fogerty sounded pretty good this time out and Jerry Garcia's fuzz guitar was quite tasty. rating: *** stars
- As mentioned, Tom frequently got slammed for having a weak voice, but on his cover of Bill Monroe's 'Rocky Road Blues' he sure sounded alot like John. Again featurring Garcia's fuzz guitar, this one would have sounded good on brother John's "Blue Ridge Rangers" album. rating: **** stars
- Sounding as if it had been recorded in a bathroom stall (lots of echo), 'Faces, Places, People' was a bland and forgettable ballad. Other than a nice fuzz solo, there wasn't much to say about it, other than it was mercifully short. rating: ** stars
- With a strange bluesy edge, 'Get Funky' didn't even sound like a finished song - Fogerty sounded like he was making the song up on the spot. rating: ** stars
- Fogerty's cover of Chris Kenner's 'Sick And Tired' was actually one of the album's bigger surprises. Far more funky than you would have expected, Garcia's guitar added some wonderful color to the performances. Darn he sounded like John on this one ... rating: *** stars
- Another song that sounded like a working demo, 'Sign Of The Devil' actually could have been quite good were it not for the martial tempo and the super cheesy synthesizer. rating: ** stars
- I'm usually not a gigantic country-blues fan, but Fogerty sounded surprisingly impressive on 'Straight And Narrow'. Hum, maybe i was the slide guitar that caught my attention. rating: *** stars
- 'Next In Line' found Fogerty returning to a country theme. Hum, a hoedown number ... not for rme. rating: ** stars
- With kind of '50s feel, '(Hold On) Annie Mae' was another surprisingly attractive performance. Easy to image John recording something like this one. rating: *** stars.

By the way, this time out the single was 'Faces, Places, People' b/w 'Forty Years' (Fantasy catalog number F-691).

Hardly his best outing, but there were a couple of winners to be found here.

"Excalibur" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Forty Years (Tom Fogerty) - 3:45
2.) Black Jack Jenny (Tom Fogerty) - 2:30
3.) Rocky Road Blues (Bill Monroe) - 3:50
4.) Faces, Places, People (Tom Fogerty) - 3:50
5.) Get Funky (Tom Fogerty) - 1:50

(side 2)
1.) Sick And Tired (Chris Kenner - Dave Bartholomew) - 4:08
2.) Sign Of The Devil (Tom Fogerty) - 2:35
3.) Straight And Narrow (Tom Fogerty) - 3:45
4.) Next In Line (Tom Fogerty) - 2:13
5.) (Hold On) Annie Mae (Tom Fogerty) - 3:48
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