Friday, September 2, 2016

Zephyr - 1971 [1994] "Going Back To Colorado"

Zephyr is one heck of a great band! Like many people, I wanted to hear this album because of Tommy Bolin's fantastic guitar playing. He's one of the most underrated rock guitarists of the 70's. I knew the guitar playing would be great, but I had no idea the songwriting would be entirely unique and diverse. Each song on this Zephyr album can either be considered pop rock or jam rock. Seriously, each song is filled with many little tasty instrumental goodies to satisfy almost anyone who appreciates rock music from the 60's and 70's. The lead singer understands how to connect to the listener with emotional vocals too.

You have the title song which reminds me of something Rush would do on their second album, "Keep Me" reminds me of the kind of emotional brilliance Carole King is known for, and "Take My Love" is like a blend between Miles Davis, Blood, Sweat and Tears, and Jefferson Airplane. That bassline is addicting, and the vocals are fantastic as well. The jazzy solo is another highlight. Absolutely love this track.

The second song called "Miss Libertine" reminds me of the Jefferson Airplane yet again. Remember how Jefferson Airplane had the talent to be creative, experimental geniuses who sounded like *no one* else? Well, Zephyr has that same talent. An extraordinary band. The last song on the album has a psychedelic piano melody with some neat drumming included.

The rest of the songs are just really high quality rock songs that can be filled with tasty instrumental bits underneath the vocals, and some of the most creative and underrated songwriting abilities I have ever heard. An easy perfect rating for this album. I seriously hope more people check out this incredible album, because right at this very moment, I'm totally shocked it wasn't more popular than it was. Trust me, this is a wonderful album for every single second.

Every song has its own sound and style, the songwriting is unbelievably catchy, and the instrumental bits are really satisfying for anyone who likes to jam out. It's perfect!

I saw Zephyr live in Colorado Springs at Kelker Junction, when the album came out new, stellar show one of the best I ever saw and the album did the group proud. Candy Givens death was a tragic loss of a truly unique vocal talent. 

 According to David Givens, Tommy jammed with Brown Sugar at a one of their regular Wednesday night gigs in Boulder at the Buff Room, and the results were so inspiring that within a few weeks they played again with Tommy, John Faris and an unidentified drummer. They then decided to break up their current bands and reform with a new drummer. Otis Taylor recommended Robbie Chamberlin, and a jam at the Folklore Center in Denver resulted with Chamberlin welcomed to the drum chair. With the firm lineup intact, they dropped the "Ethereal" from the name of Tommy and John’s band and became Zephyr.

In September, 1970 the band went into Electric Lady Studios in New York City to start recording their second album with famous engineer/producer Eddie Kramer at the helm. They were now signed with Warner Brothers, as Probe had folded. Kramer had worked with some of the top names in rock, such as Led Zeppelin and especially Jimi Hendrix, with whom Kramer had an extremely productive relationship. The sessions for the second album, Going Back to Colorado, were marred by Kramer’s distraction due emotional fallout following the death of Hendrix as well as a climactic romance with Carly Simon. The sessions for the album wrapped in October, and the album was released in January, 1971.

Going Back to Colorado was in many ways an improvement over Zephyr, in large part due to better presentation of Candy’s vocals, but it still wasn’t the commercial breakthrough that the band was hoping for. Both are extremely valuable and engaging documents, however, to fans of Tommy and of musical power and adventure. Going Back to Colorado is more song-oriented and polished, while Zephyr offers more raw exposure to Tommy’s guitar work.

Whatever difficulties Tommy faced during the recording of the album were mitigated by the important contacts he was making with important fusion musicians such as Jeremy Steig and Jan Hammer, who would soon play major roles in Tommy’s successful move into fusion.

Track listing:

1. Going Back To Colorado (Tommy Bolin, J. Tesar, Candy Givens) - 4:15
2. Miss Libertine (Candy Givens, David Givens) - 3:19 
3. Night Fades Softly (David Givens) - 3:20 
4. The Radio Song (David Givens) - 2:30 
5. See My People Come Together (Tommy Bolin) - 6:06 
6. Showbizzy (Tommy Bolin) - 2:30 
7. Keep Me (Tommy Bolin, J. Tesar) - 4:20 
8. Take My Love (John Faris) - 4:16 
9. I'll Be Right Here (Tommy Bolin) - 4:26 
10.At This Very Moment (Candy Givens) - 5:55


*Candy Givens - Piano, Vocals, Harmonica
*Bobby Berge - Drumss
*David Givens - Bass, Vocals
*John Faris - Organ, Piano, Soprano Sax, Flute, Vocal
*Tommy Bolin - Steel, Acoustic, Electric Guitars, Vibes

*Paul Conley - Moog Synthesizer
*Eddie Kramer - Piano, Clavinet, Perscussion
*Paul Fleisher - Saxophones
*Buzzy Linhart - Vocals
*Gerard "Ginger Face" McMahon - Vocals
*Albertine Robinson, Eileen Gilbert, Tasha Thomas - Vocals