Monday, November 30, 2015

Gypsy - 1970 [1979] "Gypsy"

Gypsy is the debut double album by the progressive rock band Gypsy. It was recorded at Devonshire Studios, North Hollywood, California. The album was re-released in 1979 on a K-tel label named Cognito and again in 1999 on CD by Bedrock Records. "Gypsy Queen" is the band's only charted single, peaking at #64.

Progressive rock outfit Gypsy began its existence as the Minneapolis-based pop band the Underbeats, formed in 1964 by guitarist James Johnson, bassist Doni Larson, and drummer Tom Green. With the subsequent addition of singer/guitarist Enrico Rosenbaum, the group regularly performed throughout the Twin Cities circuit, scoring a handful of local hits including "Footstompin'," "Annie Do the Dog" and "Book of Love." Keyboardist James "Owl" Walsh was recruited after Johnson was drafted for military service in 1969; upon his discharge, Johnson returned to the Underbeats lineup, and the quintet relocated to Los Angeles soon after, where they landed a gig as the house band at the famed Whiskey-a-Go-Go. Rechristened Gypsy, they began pursuing a heavier, more complex sound inspired by the rise of British progressive rock, though often compared to the music of Santana. After replacing Green with drummer Jay Epstein, the band signed to the Metromedia label, issuing their self-titled double-album debut in 1970 and earned considerable FM airplay with the tracks "Gypsy Queen" and "Dead and Gone." Larson and Epstein exited Gypsy prior to recording the follow-up, 1971's In the Garden, cut with bassist Willie Weeks -- who later resurfaced in the Doobie Brothers -- and drummer Bill Lordan. Randy Cates assumed bass duties for 1972's Antithesis, Gypsy's first album for new label RCA; however, upon releasing 1973's Unlock the Gates, the group dissolved, reforming just long enough to play the Super Jam '77 concert at St. Louis' Busch Stadium. A year later Walsh formed a new Gypsy lineup, issuing The James Walsh Gypsy Band on RCA to little notice; in 1996 -- once again the sole original member -- he assembled another Gypsy unit, releasing 20 Years Ago Today. While Lordan went on to play with Robin Trower, Rosenbaum died September 10, 1979 after a long battle with drug abuse; he was just 36 years old.  All Music.

This double-album set was just mind blowing. I remember turning all my friends on to it and they were instant fans. The flawless harmonies, the harmonic guitar work in the (I think) aeolian scale were just brilliant. The songs all told a story and the stories were all wonderful. The artwork, inspired by the great Frenchman, Alphonse Mucha, was the perfect touch. I always thought these guys were from England and only discovered a few years ago that they are from Minnesota. This is one great band with several awesome 70's albums. By Ricky Jackson.

I first obtained this album on vinyl in 1970. I was spellbound the first time I played it from start to finish. The melodies, music, and means in which the tracks are woven is something special. If you like the fullness of organ intermixed with guitars, and even some strings, you will love this disc. It remains in my TOP 10 discs of all time and never gets old. I was fortunate to find the CD about 10 years ago as my record was worn out. You will not be disappointed and the disc never gets old!!  By BurgessColorado.

The group may have wound-up on the West Coast with a "jazz-tinged" sound, but it was a Minnesota band. This first album by Gypsy is classic rock in it's finest form of utter beauty; quasi-orchestral and a la Moody Blues. Whereas, many of the tracks will take you through a medley of rich images, there is not a song on the album (now CD) that will not be played repeatedly! In fact, this is one of those rare gems you will want to hear all day, every day. By Mystic Sojourner.

I was so surprised when I found this Gypsy album on Amazon. I first heard this album on an 8-track tape my friend had purchased back in the early 70's while I was in High School. It was great from the first time I heard it, so I had to go out and purchase this 8-Track as well as the only other album by this band available in Midland Texas which was "In the Garden". I played both of these tapes until the tape became so fragile I could not patch it together anymore. Well it is over Thirty Years since I heard the wonderfully tight vocal harmonies, the wonderful whirr of the Leslie modified organ work and the stunning guitar work that I enjoyed so much from the first time I heard this album in my friend's car. What a wonderful surprise when on a whim I typed in "Gypsy" on the search bar on Amazon and found not just one but both of the albums I listened to so many years ago. The sound is ageless as it still brings the great harmonies, melodious Leslie driven organ work and the searing sounds from the guitars. It really amazes me that this group really was never appreciated enough for their extreme talent and wonderful songs. I have to say that some of the songs got this teenager from the early 70's through a lot of rough times as well as a great many pleasant times. This music can still be played today and sound just as sophisticated and wonderful as it was way back when. A bargain at twice the price for good clean tight, soft progressive, jazz, rock sound that really pleases the ear! By Old Curmudgeon.  

This is a great cd.it originally was a double album when it came out on vinyl back in the day. the songs are well put together and written very well.the musicanship is excellent. and the vocals are good too. dead and gone may be the best song on it. but the other songs are good as well. very good 70's rock.if you grew up in st.louis,mo. you know who these guys are because of k-she.not sure a lot of radio stations played these guys but they should have.  By mark.

Progressive West Coast styled jazz-tinged rock is what this band play best, and no where better than on the album's opener, the organ-led progressive pop nugget "Gypsy Queen". Originally a 2 LP set when released in 1970. Definitely worth seeking out. By Audiologicist.

"Gypsy Queen Part 1" begins this album. The vocals instantly remind me of mid 70's artists such as the Little River Band, Ambrosia, Poco or Kansas. The keyboard jams that appear throughout the album remind me of mid 70's Santana, and the guitar playing can be compared to well, I don't *know* who! "Gypsy Queen Part 2" has a nice rhythm with delicate orchestration and a strong VERY strong vocal melody.

Elsewhere you have the 11-minute "Dead and Gone" with very impressive vocal work. What makes these vocal melodies so memorable is that they have just the right sound. You can tell these guys are American and it probably wouldn't be out of the question to compare the delicate/soothing type of vocal delivery to that of the legendary Crosby, Stills & Nash. A few minutes later the song changes lounge-y with a very different type of vocal delivery here. Whether you enjoy this part is questionable perhaps- I simply adore it. Some electric guitar/keyboard alteration occurs afterwards before the main theme comes back for one last moment of awesomeness. Gotta love the line "I gotta make it home to see her one last time". Excellent song.

"Decisions" has an ominous intro with the mellotron. Reminds me of early 70's King Crimson. Paul Kantner-like vocals are quite memorable, and the REALY AWESOME and melodic guitar solo that comes after absolutely floors me. The creepiness from the intro returns, and soon soothing vocals soon follow. Meanwhile a crunchy guitar riff plays in the background. This is some really good songwriting. "The Vision" is based around a very tenderly sung vocal melody with lyrics about men being created equal while tasty, elegant piano playing occurs. In the second half orchestration comes in with faster moving piano. This is one of the best songs here in my opinion.

"Tomorrow is the Last to Be Heard" has an energetic verse melody with appropriately used orchestration making a grand appearance and a fantastic guitar solo. "More Time" begins with a dreamy melody that reminds me of the Beatles "Sun King"... er "Because" (even to this DAY I get those two Beatles songs mixed up!) before shifting into Stephen Stills-style rocking. I mean EXACTLY like Stephen Stills on all counts (vocals, keyboards and country/rock style). Nice slide guitar in the solo! "Third Eye" may be one of the weaker songs here- none of the piano, guitar or vocals ever builds to anything particularly special. Too laidback and nonchalant of a song. The only part that catches my attention is when the guitar speeds along jazzily in the middle.

"Late December" is an upbeat adventurous type of song. Setting course for adventure! This song has marvelous vocals and a great melody. I love the jazzy guitar solo and the keyboards too, and how they blend with the guitar riff soon after. "I Was So Young" has a Spanish vibe due to the excellent guitar playing, and the middle part comes across like a singer rationalizing the way he used to be which presents a cool atmosphere. I wasn't expecting "Here In My Loneliness" to be somewhat happy. I instead fully expected a very sad song but... not really! Instead this song has dreamy guitar soloing. By the way the rhythm work the entire way through the album is just *perfect*. The shorter songs are vocal melody delights as well.

I'd be hard pressed to find a more instantly likeable progressive rock album. This album fits that description and does its job amazingly well.
By Bryan. 

Track listing

All songs by Enrico Rosenbaum except as noted.

01    "Gypsy Queen Part I" – 4:21
02    "Gypsy Queen Part II" – 2:33
03    "Man of Reason" (Johnson) – 2:59
04    "Dream If You Can" (Rosenbaum, Epstein) – 2:48
05    "Late December" – 4:12
06    "The Third Eye" (Walsh) – 4:55
07    "Decisions" – 8:16
08    "I Was So Young" – 4:00
09    "Here in My Loneliness" – 3:10
10    "More Time" – 5:35
11    "The Vision" – 7:30
12    "Dead and Gone" – 11:07
13    "Tomorrow is the Last to be Heard" – 5:48

Personnel

    Enrico Rosenbaum - guitar, vocals
    James Walsh - keyboards, vocals
    James Johnson - guitar, vocals
    James Epstein - drums
    Donnie Larson - bass
    Preston Epps - percussion
    Jimmie Haskell - string arrangements 

3 comments:

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  2. Chiquilicuatre y ZappaDecember 6, 2015 at 2:54 AM

    many thanks

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