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Gypsy - Antithesis CD (album) cover

ANTITHESIS

Gypsy

 

Eclectic Prog

2.59 | 7 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars With Gypsy’s third studio album the band finally had the benefit of a major label backing them, having left the ailing Metromedia label for RCA. But unfortunately the band seemed to have fallen into a trend at the time toward southern boogie music, and much of the highly percussive Latin and strong vocal harmonies are gone on their debut for the new label. Gone also was bassist Willie Weeks; the band fielded their third bass player in as many albums with the competent but unremarkable Randy Cates, who at least brought the added advantage of being able to supply backing vocals on a few tracks. Weeks would go on to a long career as a studio and tour journeyman, and showed up a couple years later on David Bowie’s ‘Young Americans’ album among other places.

This record is notable in its remarkable un-remarkableness if nothing else. Guitarist Enrico Rosenbaum’s brief foray into psych has given way to pedestrian blues-centered rhythm, and the percussion here is limited primarily to snare drums and cymbals. Gone also are the long, elaborated arrangements of their earlier albums, replaced by bite-sized, radio-friendly mini-tunes that probably could have garnered the band a few hit singles, although as far as I know none of them were ever released as such.

The band manages to squeeze in a few vocals harmonies, most notably on “So Many Promises” and the title track. Elsewhere they seem to be resorted to uninspired jam sessions, such as on the brief and incomplete-sounding “Travelin' Minnesota Blues” and the rambling “Money”, which also suffers from a rather muddy mix.

The first couple of songs on this album remind me quite a bit of the early, less grandiose Steely Dan albums on many ways. “Day After Day” in particular wouldn’t have been out-of-place on “Cant’ Buy a Thrill” or “Pretzel Logic”. The quality of the compositions and arrangements seems to wane as the album progresses though, and the last couple of tracks lack any distinguishing charactertistics.

The CD reissue doesn’t offer anything new from the original vinyl release, and as with their second album I’m struck by the fact that this band debuted with a double studio album, and followed it up with two consecutive albums less than forty minutes and clearly including some filler (“Young Gypsy” and the lackluster piano ballad “Facing Time” in the case of this album).

I’ll always rank Gypsy’s debut among my favorite American prog rock albums of the early seventies; the ambitious, lengthy and elaborated production and layers of sounds are rather remarkable for such an unknown act on such a minor label. But like Wishbone Ash (to whom they can be reasonably compared on many levels), the band seems to have lost focus and drive as their career progressed, and by the end there just wasn’t much left to get excited about. Maybe just a tiny hair better than collectors-only, so I’m going to plant three stars on this one, but only by the narrowest of margins.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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