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Guns And Butter

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Guns And Butter Guns And Butter album cover
2.94 | 22 ratings | 3 reviews | 14% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. I Am (4:24)
2. Time Has Wings/Introduction (3:50)
3. Look at the Day (2:37)
4. Sometimes (8:34)
5. It Can't Go On Like This (3:09)
6. Our Album (3:04)
7. Lady Grey (3:48)
8. Family (2:33)
9. Elysium's Butterfly Comes (2:32)
10. The Wanderer (5:27)

Total Time 40:28

Line-up / Musicians

- Peter Cohen / Bass
- Lenny Federer / Violin, Viola
- Jeff Lyons / Vocals
- Richard Ploss / Flute, Saxophone
- Peter Tucker / Drums
- Paul Cohen / Guitar

Releases information

LP Cotillion SD-9901(USA, 1972)

Thanks to clarke2001 for the addition
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GUNS AND BUTTER Guns And Butter ratings distribution

(22 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (41%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

GUNS AND BUTTER Guns And Butter reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars Guns & Butter were a band probably doomed to failure from the very start, victims of both changing times and musical tastes as well as an obvious socio-cultural chasm between them and most of what would have needed to be their target audience for them to be successful. From their academic band name to the musical and social pedigree of some of the members (Lenny Federer was a classically trained on violin in Europe, New York and Israel while Rich Ploss studied at the renowned Berklee College of Music), the band was bound to end up as something of a novelty act that failed to translate their appeal to record executives into something more popular and lasting.

The Cohen brothers Peter and Paul, along with vocalist Jeff Lyons scored a record deal with Atlantic while barely out of high school, but it would take the addition of Federer, Ploss and drummer Peter Tucker to turn them into a true band. Following a period of local gigs doing covers and derivative tunes the band managed to put together enough original music to fill an entire album. The folk and progressive influences are obvious; the Beatles (particularly McCartney), Donovan, a little West Coast psych in addition to classical structures as varied as Baroque, some strident Wagner-leaning keyboard arrangements and plenty of fuzz guitar as well as playful violin/flute interplay. In the end it's as hard to describe as it is to classify, and therefore almost by definition too narrowly-defined to achieve mass appeal.

The Federer tunes are the easiest to identify, filled as they are with complex arrangements focused on carefully crafted chord sequences that leverage the orchestral instruments like flute, violin and keyboards that sound like a spinet much more than guitar, bass or even drums. The nearly eight-minute "Sometimes" is the most obvious, while the opening "I Am" also throws in some saxophone and inflected, embellished Romance-era percussion and guitar flourishes. "Time Has Wings" is the other Federer composition and this one is centered almost exclusively on the violin with some understated, Eastern-sounding guitar and folksy vocals.

On the other hand Paul Cohen seems to have preferred a more pop direction with the light and melodic "Look at the Day" as well as "Our Album", a song that sounds for all the world like it was recorded at the corner of Haight and Ashbury in late 1968.

But Ploss is the most varied and interesting composer in the group, ranging from the British-folk inflected "It Can't Go on Like This" to "Lady Grey" which would pass for a California 70s soft-rock tune were it not for the jazzy saxophone solo that fills the middle of the tune. And "Elysium's Butterfly Comes" though brief is one of the more haunting and arresting songs on the album with it's creepy, strident violin score and soothing, supportive acoustic guitar. This guy really should have stuck with it even when the band imploded.

Unfortunately there is almost no information about this band following the release and immediate disappearance of this album. Given the times (1972), its not surprising such an eclectic fusion of folk, classical and progressive music would not take off. Still, too bad such an interesting and promising group couldn't have either formed five years sooner or somewhere besides New England; if so, they might have lasted long enough for at least one more try. A solid three star effort for this one anyway, and a hearty recommendation to fans of folk, classically-inspired rock and any of a wide range of sounds that came out of the Boston area from the mid sixties pretty much all the way to today.


Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This band from Boston had its seeds in late-60's with old-time friends Jeff Lyons (vocals), Peter Cohen (bass), Paul Cohen (guitar) and Peter Tucker (drums) jamming together and swirling around concerts of famous bands.In early 1970 they recruited Richard Ploss on flute/sax/clarinet and headed for a personal musical approach.Shortly after they were joined by Classical-trained violinist Lenny Federer.Federed, who has been travelling around the world since a little kid -propably due to his parents' occupations- had settled in Boston around the time and attended the Boston University.Tired of the Classical orchestrations, he searched for a new challenge and Guns & Butter was exactly what he was lookining for.Turning point comes, when the band was offered a set of lives at Lennie's on the Turnpike club, owned by Lennie Sogoloff.They came to the attention of Marshal Chess, business manager of the Rolling Stones, and they were offered a place in the list of Atlantic bands.They released their self-titled debut in 1972 on Atlantic's sublabel Cotillion.

''Guns & Butter'' has to be one of the most challenging albums of the premature US Prog scene of the 70's.While dominated by 60's Psych and Pop leftovers, it has a demanding instrumental background, not easily found in American groups of the time.They have been compared to British Prog pioneers EAST OF EDEN and this is a very good reference point.The omnipresent use of wind instruments and the Classical touches provided by Federer's impressive violin executions led to series of complicated and intricate arrangements with a rock attitude, but influenced by the principles of Jazz and Classical Music.The vocals are like coming from a mid-60's Psych Pop album, clean, expressive, but not quite suitable to the irritating musicianship.On the other hand the instrumenal passages are pretty fascinating, featuring endless interplays between sax, flute, guitar and violin, containing lots of unexpected breaks and often opening the doors for a more guitar-driven Psychedelic Rock style.The atmosphere is dominated by a rich palette with plenty of driving violin parts, jazzy sax solioing and some very good flute work.Anywise they have been very much influenced also by the early albums of JETHRO TULL.I am surprised that these guys surpassed the standard bluesy values of US Rock and their style was rather ahead of its time.

They have dissapeared like falling in a black hole after this album.Many years later Jeff Lyons was detected in the line-up of a Power Pop band called Angry Young Bees, with whom he played in a sole single around 1981.

Rich, emphatic and quite innovative early-70's mix of Jazz, Classical and Rock Music, showered consistently by psychedelic influences.Warmly recommended, especially taking the country and time of realease into consideration.

Review by Mellotron Storm
2 stars I've had this one for a while and I wish I could remember who recommended this to me so I could properly re-pay them(haha). No this is one album that I hope to never hear again. I really don't like the name of the band either. In the bio here they mention EAST OF EDEN as a reference point with the strings, horns and eclectic style but man this just doesn't compare to what EAST OF EDEN composed, especially their early albums. The music of GUNS AND BUTTER reminds me mostly of Proto-Prog even though it was released in 1972 and I think the vocalist has a lot to do with that. I do enjoy the flute a lot, the violin not so much despite Lenny Federer being classically trained. Richard Ploss the flute/ sax player was trained at Berklee so yes these guys can play, I just don't enjoy the music at all.

Sorry to not be showing much love on this Valentines Day but there's little to attract me here.

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