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Jam actory - Sittin' In the Trap

Jam actory - Sittin' In the Trap

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Genre: horn-rock
Rating: 2 stars **
Title:  Sittin' In the Trap
Company: Epic
Catalog: BN 26251
Year: 1970
Country/State: Syracuse, New York
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: --
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 346
Price: $30.00

Hard to imagine, but given the mega commercial success bands like Blood, Sweat & Tears, Chicago, and Lighthouse enjoyed, the late-'60s and early-'70s found record labels falling into a feeding frenzy in their rush to sign horn-rock bands. If you and your buddies could hold a tune and had brass in your line-up, there's a good chance you were given a contract.

Formed in Syracuse, New York, Jam Factory featured the talents of bassist Kent DeFelice, drummer Joe English, guitarist Mark Hoffman, keyboardist Gene McCormick and horn players Earl V. Ford Jr. and Steve Marcone. Formed in 1968, by 1970 the band had attracted a cult following playing clubs, dances, and colleges throughout upper New York. Not to sound cynical, but I'm guessing the previously mentioned horn-rock feeding frenzy had something to do with the group getting a contract with Epic Records. Produced by Ken Cooper, 1970's "Sittin' In the Trap" wasn't bad. With Hoffman and McCormick separately responsible for writing most of the material, musically the album was pretty diverse, including stabs at country ('Didn't Know Me Then'), pop ballads ('Trying To Recall'), funk ('Tight Knit Group'), and jazz ('Sons of Gemini'). Unfortunately these guys had a couple of problems - chief among them the horns. Unless you were a horn-rock fan, you definitetly wanted to steer clear. Another problem - vocals were split up across a couple of folks and none of the players were great. With a mildly soulful voice, McCormick was probably the best of the lot.
"Sittin' In the Trap" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Tight Knit Group (Gene McCormick) -
'Tight Knit Group' opened the album with a decent slice of horn-powered funk, showcasing some great bass work from DeFelice and McCormick's keyboards. They sound almost quaint today, but the "brotherhood" oriented lyrics were actually kind of sweet - remember there simply weren't many racially integrated bands in the early-'70s. Interestingly McCormick's voice sounded a bit like Sly Stone on this one. rating: *** stars
2.) Sittin' In the Trap (Gene McCormick) -
The horn-propelled opening sounded like something off an early Chicago album as did the socially relevant lyrics. Unfortunately every time this one started to build up a bit of energy the darned horns kicked in. Also, if I wanted to hear a Chicago album, I'd put one of them on my stereo ... rating: *** stars
3.) Trying To Recall (Mark Hoffman) -
'Trying To Recall' was certainly in the running for the title of 1970's dullest ballad ... Clearly meant as a deep and sensitive statement, the result was simply boring. Not even the Latin influences that cropped up during the jamming section of the song could save this one from oblivion. rating: ** stars
4.) Didn't Know Me Then (Mark Hoffman) -
Hoffman's 'Didn't Know Me Then' found the band adding a country flavor to their repertoire. Probably not a good direction for them to have pursued. rating: ** stars
5.) You Better Listen (Gene McCormick) -
With a propulsive melody and some can't-we-live-together lyrics, 'You Better Listen' was probably the best side one performance. Another track that sounded a bit like a Sly and the Family Stone outtake. rating: *** stars

(side 2)
1.) It's Your World (Gene McCormick) -
Hum, starting a song with some "deep" philosophical ramblings seldom works out well and that was the case for 'It's Your World'. Imagine Three Dog Night adding horns to their line-up and you'd get a feel for this one. Giving credit where due, guitarist Hoffman turned in one of his best solos on this one. rating: *** stars
2.) Brothers Gemini (Mark Hoffman - Steve Marcone) -
The album's most jazzy tune, 'Brothers Gemini' had some great DeFelice bass work and actually generated quite a bit of energy. The horns weren't even bad on this one, though the peace-and-harmony vocals really started to irritate. rating: *** stars
3.) Mr. Slow (John Houston) -
The only non-original, 'Mr. Slow' was written by band friend John Houston. Kind of a cool bluesy number, always loved Hoffman's guitar and the totally goofy lyrics (it's about a horse). It's always reminded me a bit of a trippy Michael Nesmith tune. Didn't love the horns ... rating: *** stars

The band released a hard-to-find non-LP single:

- 1970's 'Talk Is Cheap' b/w 'Together' (Epic catalog number 5-10766)

YouTube has a clip of a slightly older Hoffman playing the song at a small club:

The band spent a couple of years touring and relocated to Macon, Georgia. They apparently began work on a second album, but it never saw a release. English was subsequently recruited for Wings Paul McCartney, effectively spelling the end of the band.

As far as I know, the only other document the band left behind was a December 1971 concert recorded at the Richmond Coloseum (they opened for Rita Coolidge and The Byrds). The concert features a number of tracks ('You're the One', 'The Ballad of Maxine', 'I'm Your Friend',' Dr. Freeze', and 'Bright Blue Trips On Sailing Ships' from the planned sophomore LP. The concert's available through Wolfgang's Vault.
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