Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Ancient Grease - "Women and Children First" 1970

From Allmusic: "Ancient Grease is a cleaver moniker for a band, although Strawberry Dust were rather baffled to find themselves so named on their 1970 debut album: "Women and Children First." "Dust's" reputation as a rousing live act was already cemented by several years of playing cover songs around the South Wales club circuit, which is where drummer John Weathers came across them. Impressed, he oversaw their demo, which landed the band a deal at Mercury, then co-wrote, arranged, and co-produced their full length. And thus begins the 'Racing Cars' story, for 'Dust/Grease' featured both the band's future front men, Gareth "Morty" Mortimer, and guitarist Grahm Williams. However, this album is very much a child of it's time, only hinting at what's to come.

 It's a heady mixture of pub rock, hard rocking R&B, blues, psychedelia, San Francisco prog rock, with nods to the British hard rock scene along the way, 'Dust/Grease' hit just about every musical touchstone of their day. Incidentally, Weathers' "Eyes of Blue" bandmate, Phil Ryan, provides fabulous keyboard work on the gorgeous "Where the Snow Lies Forever", the genre-bending "Odd Song", and presumably the rest of the album, although no keyboardist is credited. The album's title track captures the excitement they engendered on stage, "Freedom Train", their propensity to roan around genres, "Mother Grease the Cat", their proggy best, "Prelude to a Blind Man", their pubby predilections and bluesy fair, "Time to Die", their emotive power, and "Mystic Mountain", their pop sensibilities.

Even though "Women and Children First" is a strong set, there are flaws, from the so-so production of the set's cohesion, a reflection of too many song writers stirring the musical pot. 'Dust/Grease' were ferociously talented musicians, but they were still a cover band trying to find their own sound. 
They never got the chance. Mercury failed to properly promote "Women.." and it sank without a trace. The band followed it into oblivion, as the members departed swiftly for new projects." 
- Jo-Ann Greene

American press

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