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Maximilian - Maximillian

Maximilian - Maximillian

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Title:  Maximillian
Company: ABC
Catalog: ABCS-696
Year: 1969
Country/State: New York
Grade (cover/record): VG / VG
Comments: minor ring wear; gatefold sleeve

Here's one of those albums that generates extremes in opinions within the collector community ... you either love it, or hate it with a passion. Even though I have a copy for sale, I'm going to argue for the latter category.

Right off the bat you had to wonder about any band that was willing to allow megalomaniac liner notes such as: "And it came to pass in the year 1969 that Golgotha music was one of the few surviving vestiges of truth. Its prophets of love and truth such as B.B. King, Bob Dylan, Donovan, Aretha Franklin, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez and others, sang the psalms of the time. The crucifixion of the social heroes of the day, such as Dr. Mar Luther King Jr. Preside John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, had made even bigger demands on the importance and value of music, thus creating new prophets of lone and truth. Behold: Maximillian!"

So Maximillian was a New York-based African-American hard rock/psych trio, featuring the talents of singer Buzzy Bowzer (aka Maximillian), lead guitarist Mojack Maximillian, and bassist Moby Medina (aka Moby Maximillian). ((okay the bassist was Puerto Rican.) The band somehow attracted the attention of producer/writer Teddy Vann who helped them score a contract with ABC. The result was 1969's Vann-produced "Maximillian". With Bowzer writing most of the eight tracks, the resulting album was surprisingly unaccomplished. So where to start? Bowzer's voice wasn't particularly impressive. Bellowing and frequently shrill, at least to my ears his performances evoked Jagger at his worst, or perhaps Eric Burdon at his most wasted. Bowzer had two singing styles - loud and louder. Forget the concept of subtlety on this one. Musically tracks like 'Scar On My Memory', 'The Road Rat' and 'The Name of the Game' offered up a weird mixture of grunge, heavy metal, and psych that managed to be discordant and irritating. Lead guitarist Mojack was certainly talented, but seemed trapped worshipping at the alter of Jimi Hendrix. It frequently sounded like a series of stoned jam sessions that had gone terribly askew with each member apparently playing a different tune with orders to crank it up as loud as possible. Vann also added to the album's irritating qualities by giving the collection a harsh, metallic edge. It literally sounded like they'd recorded some of these tracks in a bathroom stall.

- The first time I heard 'Naked Ape' I wondered if I had mistakenly put on a late-inning Eric Burden and the Animals album. Written by producer Vann, and opening up with screeching violins before morphing into kind of a bluesy piece, this one had the same stoned, late-1960s aura that Burden wallowed in. Bowzer shared Burden's bellowing, wail of a voice which many folks probably won't find all that attractive. rating: ** stars
Yeah, Bowzer's bellowing voice remained an acquired taste, but thankfully 'Kickin' 9 To 5' dropped the first song's pretense in favor of a decent slice of fuzz guitar-propelled rock. rating: ** stars
- 'Scar On My Memory' showcased one of those out-of-control jam sessions I mentioned. I'm a big fuzz bass fan so I'll admit that I found Moby's performance mildly entertaining. Similarly I'm a big wah-wah fan which meant I appreciated Mojack's contributions to the song. Unfortunately when you slapped them on top of Bowzer's ranting vocal you were left with an aural mess. Yech. rating: ** stars
- 'The Road Rat' found Bowzer and company apparently doing their best to channel Hendrix. Unfortunately someone forgot to tell Bowzer that Hendrix could actually sing. Yeah ... well at least the song was short. rating: * star
- Ah, life as a rock star sucks ! The spoken intro was actually pretty funny, but then 'Little Amazon' dove head first into a conventional blues song. rating: ** stars
- The first minute of 'The Name of the Game' found the band apparently trying different chord progressions, before deciding it was too much work and launching into a conventional blues number with Bowzer's yelping vocals on top. rating: ** stars
- I guess if I had to pick a favorite performance, I'd go with 'New Lover'. Mind you, the song wasn't any great shakes - a rather plodding heavy blues number, but at least Bowzer kept some of his vocal excess to a minimal, while Mojack avoided his usual busy work and Medina kept the song bouncing along at a reasonable clip. rating: *** stars
- I'm guessing that the band ran out of original material so 'Moby's House' was added as padding. It really isn't a song so much as a brief collage pulling together song fragments from the earlier seven tracks. Not particularly original or well done. rating: * star

You really are left to wonder how these guys got a recording contract with ABC, especially since the label was on a streak at that point in time having signed some truly impressive, if little known acts like Graffiti, Puzzle, Silk, etc. I'll leave it at that ...

I'm guessing due to the fact it was one of the rarer late-1960s offerings on ABC and collectors had begun to shell out some big dollars for original copies, in 2007 the Italian Arkama label reissued the set on CD (Akarma catalog 283).

"Maximillian" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Naked Ape (Teddy Vann) - 3:47
2.) Kickin' 9 To 5 (Buddy Bowzer) - 4:30
3.) Scar On My Memory (Buddy Bowzer) - 3:36
4.) The Road Rat (Buddy Bowzer) - 2:58

(side 2)
1.) Little Amazon (Buddy Bowzer) - 5:15
2.) The Name of the Game (Buddy Bowzer) - 3:51
3.) New Lover (Buddy Bowzer) - 4:18
4.) Moby's House (Moby Maximillian) - 2:21
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