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5 stars A total obscurity that truly blew me away. I don't know what's up with Polydor, but that label seemed to let just about anything on their label, because you can get some truly godawful stuff or some truly mindblowing stuff. After all, this is the same label that gave us James Last, which we all avoid like the plague, all the way to Ram, a totally obscure New York heavy prog band. They only released one album in 1972 called Where? (In Conclusion) (I saw some catalog state this album was released in 1969, but it sounds just too '70s, 1972 is about right to my ears anyways. I own the original LP and it gave no year of release). The band consisted of the (presumably) DeMartino brothers, John on wind instruments and Ralph on guitars and vocals, Dennis Carbone on vocals and piano, Michael Rodriguez on bass and vocals, and someone named Steeler on drums.

You might get fooled into thinking this is just another hard rock album, but they include some great use of wind instruments, like some of the members (probably John DeMartino) had probably heard some Van der Graaf Generator, as some of his sax playing reminds me a bit of David Jackson. "The Want in You" is a hard rocking number, reminding me a bit of May Blitz or Captain Beyond, with some Tull thrown in (especially the flute). What until you get a load of "Stoned Silence", one of the greatest pieces of psychedelia I have ever heard! This song really gets rocking like nobody's business, then they go into symphonic prog mode with piano and what sounds like maybe one note of Mellotron (not sure, as Mellotrons were just starting to become available in the States in '72). They get rocking again with some great guitar riffs and flute. "Odyssey" is a mellow, symphonic piece that lets you know this group was fully capable of doing symphonic prog. This is a piano-dominated piece with flute, played in a symphonic manner. I get reminded a tad of Jade Warrior. "Mother's Day Song" is a heavy piece, in the Hendrix or May Blitz vein so expect a lot of heavy guitar riffs. The vocals even sounds a bit like Hendrix or May Blitz's James Black. Then you get the side-length suite "Aza", other than "Stoned Silence", this is the album's big highlight, ranging from more mellow passages to truly hard rocking passages, and even spacy passages.

Whatever became of Ram is anyone's guess. What I do know is I'm happy they stuck around long enough to give this little-known gem and it wasn't exactly on a small label. This group could have easily fallen in the trap of "just another hard rock band", but that's not the case at all, not with all the progressive elements included, and even a couple cuts that veer towards symphonic prog. Symphonic purists might stay away from the album, but for those who enjoy hard rock or heavy prog, get this album, you won't regret it!

Report this review (#289547)
Posted Wednesday, July 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
Retired Admin
3 stars Fluffy goat with spiralling horns beckons you

Ram's sole album Where (In Conclusion) is a bit of a head scratcher, not because of its rather lame title, but because of it living in anonymity in all of these years. Normally I'll be suggesting you to pick up some out-there Krautrock obscurity, which in all fairness does have a narrow and small following - even within the psychedelic listening fold, but here there is absolutely no excuse not to get excited, wild and rambunctious(ho ho). Ram was a short-lived American band who played a form of heavy rock meets psych - in a manner that should feel right at home to all you Atomic Rooster, Uriah Heep and T2 aficionados. This is fantastic stuff - and I'll stake my portion of the space station Mir, that every rock n roller out there over 35 with a penchant for any of the aforementioned bands probably will adore this very album like they do a well served glass of beer.

Ram were not out to reinvent the wheel. They didn't break the rules - make up their own perimeters with trail blazing froggy emanations of belching oboe sections, but what they do, they do incredibly well. Consisting of two different personalities, Where (In Conclusion) takes the listener through a well oiled hard prog machine with grunt, power and balls to the walls attitude in all the right places. The other side of the equation delivers the umphh - the progressive tendencies - just like the space pistol wah wah, the shepherd flute, the Canterburian sax ornamentations on top of the beat, and a series of furious drum sections that snarl and roar with the confidence of an urban black panther.

The vocals here are heartfelt, soulful and not entirely unlike those you'd find on a Grateful Dead album from around the same time, albeit with a decisively more meaty expression to them. What I'm reminded most of though is German obscurity Nosferatu - especially in the way the wind instruments compliment those vocals. It's all part of the big rock n roll picture here, even if things are quieted down a bit with the breezy and psychedelic Odyssey, where the band opts for a slicker ethereal atmosphere that celebrates the natural progression of the whole thing.

My absolute favourite thing about this album is when it throws away the linear storytelling of the first couple of tracks. Like I said previously, the album dabbles in alternate musical expressions, and to some extent we are facing a two headed horse here. -Or let me rephrase that: a two headed ram. The ram is actually a pretty cool image to mirror this music in, and if you can picture this band riding over stock and stone on this testosterone filled creature, that crashes down doors like a hot knife slices through butter, then you're not entirely far off. It's that kind of rock music we're facing here, at least in the first couple of tracks leading up to the big kahouna. It feels earthy, rocking, streamlined and American like chewing tobacco and driving a big roaring Ford Mustang. Then for the final epic my guess is that the band went for a little walk around the studio -lighted up a doobie and bought a fish tank they would somehow incorporate into the music. Something certainly happened that's for sure...

Aza is where things get really interesting - at least to this listener, and sticking to the ram illustration here, it truly feels like the band throws away the harness - letting this creature run free out on great majestic planes - whilst being reduced to mere passengers tagging along for the duration of the ride. The music transforms into a space rock excursion with foggy ethereal vocal bits, lofty flute accompaniment and a looser and more wobbly guitar that puts the gelatine into this sponge cake. The track doesn't sound like it's bereft of focus or coherence, but rather like it takes these individuals through a multitude of alternating sections, that are every bit as funky and tight as the preceding songs, though Aza feels much more like a feat - like a voyage on its own premises. This is also where you encounter the most progressive material within this album - like the sudden jazzy polyrhythmic outbursts from the drums or the trippy stuttering keyboard section at the very end, which slowly and comfortably segues into this beautiful liquid surface of sonic experimentation, where the keys take on the hybrid form of a supernatural harmonica mixed with a yearning viola(?). It all ends with the moaning cries of the lead singer that melt the way into this otherworldly organ exorcise, and you wonder where those 21 minutes went.

This album is recommended to every progressive rock fan out there, and just now thinking about pears and other fruits, I suddenly remember which other act these guys remind me off: Polyphony! Yet another American obscurity that mixed hard rock with psych tendencies, back when your dad looked like a girl. If you want a hot sweaty slice of the 70s complete with the proverbial space excursion, high soaring guitar solos, mojo filled vocals and a band that propels itself forward like a fluffy goat with spiralling horns, then do yourself a favour and watch out for Ram. This is one smoking album! 3.5 stars.

Report this review (#648308)
Posted Tuesday, March 6, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Get down with these vintage Long Islanders on their only release from '72, blowing the roof off the place, swinging heavily and grinding out naked hard prog like there's no tomorrow. 'The Want in You' is tough, classic heavy soul-rock and 'Stoned Silence' goes even deeper into Woodstock headspace with Dennis Carbone's voice moving between soft reflection and graveled Lester Chambers-style wailing. 'The Mothers Day Song' turns from a basic blues into a Hendrix salute, Mike Rodriguez's beyond-overdriven bass and John Demartino's flute above it all.

The album apexes with four-part 'Aza', one of those spaced-out cult film selections; we can almost smell the funk of marijuana smoke & buttered popcorn wafting through the balcony of some ratty theater showing a double-bill of Zardoz and Barbarella. Steppenwolf, Heep, Mountain, Rooster fans may find much fun here. Not sure about everyone else.

Report this review (#805374)
Posted Thursday, August 16, 2012 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars This was the sole release from these hard rocking Americans back in 1972. This is one of those albums that I should like but right from the start it just hasn't clicked with me for some reason. Mind you BLUE OYSTER CULT were also from Long Island so maybe I have a hidden bias towards them. Not that I hated those Islander teams from the eighties (okay I did) but I must admit they had a good hockey team for many years there.

"The Want In You" is a heavy, straight-forward sounding vocal track. Flute before 4 minutes. "Stoned Silence" kicks in around a minute with some raw guitar. We get a guitar solo before 2 minutes then it calms right down. Flute 3 1/2 minutes in as it picks up. Another calm with reserved vocals ends it. "Odyssey" opens with flute and gentle guitar. Bass joins in as the sound gets fuller. "The Mothers Day Song" is a testosterone fuelled track with lyrics that would make a young lady blush. And for me it's rather lame but then again i'm no longer a teenager. This is a bluesy number.

"Aza" is the side long closing suite that makes this record worth checking into. It's mellow with vocals to start but the vocals stop as the music trips along. Reserved vocals are back 3 1/2 minutes in then the song kicks into gear at 5 minutes as the vocals stop once again. The guitar proceeds to light it up after 7 minutes and the vocals are back after 10 minutes as it calms right down. It's fuller after 12 minutes. Another calm after 18 minutes. The vocals cry out 20 minutes in as it stays mellow.

This just doesn't move my needle much surprisingly but if your into heavy early seventies music you should check them out.

Report this review (#808602)
Posted Wednesday, August 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Ram was a short-lived American prog rock band that in 1972 released one album, Where (In Conclusion), on Polydor, and then disappeared from prog history. The group consisted of flautist/saxist John DeMartino, guitarist/vocalist Ralph DeMartino, bassist/vocalist Michael Rodriguez, and drummer Steeler, with Dennis Carbone providing additional vocals and keyboard.

They have a heavy prog sound, typical of the early '70's, but also with some space rock elements added here and there. John DeMartino plays some interesting passages on saxophone and flute, blending very well with the rest of the musicians. The songs The Want In You and The Mother's Day Song shows the bluesy side of the band, though keeping progressive overtones, while Stoned Silence shows a more psychedelic side, with a great piano passage from Dennis Carbone. The album ends with the four-movement suite Aza, more than 20 minutes of space rock combined with heavy prog elements. The album was re-released by Akarma in digipack vinyl replica format some years ago. A good album overall but not fantastic, for fans of Brainticket or Tyburn Tall

Report this review (#963623)
Posted Wednesday, May 22, 2013 | Review Permalink
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars A short lived early Seventies American band, Ram delivered the confusingly titled `Where? (The Conclusion)' in 1972 and promptly vanished a year later, with their sole album becoming a quietly prized rarity ever since. The band played a mix of heavy rock and spacey psych with touches of blues and jazz, and it reminds of everything from Atomic Rooster, Raw Material, Jimi Hendrix, Nosferatu and Cream, with little traces of the intensity of Van der Graaf Generator to the sax, flute and clarinet driven passages, as well as the heaviness of Hawkwind's deep-space explorations lightly filtered through here and there too.

Opener `The Want In You' is a rollicking and infectious rock groover spiked with sax blasts, sparkling Hammond organ, darting flute and no shortage of wailing electric guitar histrionics. `Stoned Silence' alternates between If-like jazz-fusion twists, tougher R&B blasts and softly mysterious introspection, and `Odyssey' is a floating and delicately romantic flute-driven instrumental reflection. `The Mothers Day Song' is a raunchy smoulder of Hendrix-flavoured bluesy lustiness, and while overwrought lines like `Today's Mumma's Day, so if you wanna be a mumma, COME UP TO MY ROOM AND PLAY!!!' are excruciating, it's pretty clear that the song is a making light of the hedonistic rock-star ego cliché, vocalist Dennis Carbone even uttering `They tell me I'm a big star, I gotta get it on'! Luckily there's also some cool Van der Graaf Generator-style dirty wafting sax thrown into the middle, and it culminates in a huffing flute and heavy crushing drum 'n guitar stormy rumble!

But it's all about the twenty-one minute side-long piece `Aza', an unhurried multi-part suite laced with eerie mystery, delicious dream-like ambiance and a noisier scuzzy danger. Other-wordly treated vocal harmonies drift in every direction around ethereal siren-like Mellotron veils and guitars that move between shimmering drones and Pink Floyd-ian cutting bluesy piercing. The piece explodes into a calamitous din of relentless maddening drumming, mud-thick bass spasms and crashing chugging slab-like guitar riffs with twisting/turning mangled soloing. It not only reminds of the more raucous outbursts of Italian band Osanna's `Il Castello Dell'Es' opener off their `Landscape of Life' album that came later in '74, but you'll also wonder if the Mars Volta overdosed on this piece to form a blueprint for parts of their own sound! Strangled sax and darting flute takes us to Hawkwind's search for space and the gnashing schizophrenic violence of Van der Graaf Generator, and distorting electronics bleed over cool jazzy groves before the band are sucked into a tormented sonic vacuum for eternity.

While it might be pushing things to consider Ram's album an essential disc, `Where? (In Conclusion)' proves to be a constant grower of an LP that becomes hugely satisfying on replays, and in its own little way had plenty of great ideas that the band never got to further develop on further albums. The Relics label reissue makes the disc a lot easier to track down now, so those wanting to expand their collection with lesser-known prog/psych-related gems that hold great value and plenty of exciting music should enjoy this tasty one.

Three and a half stars.

Report this review (#1821969)
Posted Saturday, November 11, 2017 | Review Permalink

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