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The Eclectic Mouse biography
THE ECLECTIC MOUSE was an American group from Highland Park, California led by classically trained composer and percussionist Steve FORMAN. It was FORMAN'S earliest excursion into rock waters while previously working mostly in classical music as well as jazz and before becoming a studio session musician on hundreds of albums.

The group had its only album produced and recorded in Phoenix Arizona with an experimental approach and was eventually released through Capitol records, and it marked itself as a notable example of American progressive music in the late 60's. The songs were arranged in orchestral movements of various lengths ranging from progressive pop pieces to more complex instrumental jazz, with some influences on FOREMAN at the time being people like MILES DAVIS and DON ELLIS on the jazz side, and BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS and FRANK ZAPPA and THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION on the rock side.

The record has been relatively obscure and a collectible almost from the start, similar to a lot of bands in the early American scene, but it can be well recommended as an interesting genre experiment of jazz, rock and classical music in the early days of the progressive rock scene.

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3.14 | 3 ratings
Everything I've Got

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Everything I've Got by ECLECTIC MOUSE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.14 | 3 ratings

Everything I've Got
The Eclectic Mouse Proto-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars Classically trained Steve Forman spent his early years learning the art of the symphony but also was very influenced by the 60s jazz legends such as Don Ellis, Miles Davis and other rock crossover acts such as Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. THE ECLECTIC MOUSE was Forman's nickname who was deemed a master percussionist by the age of 22. He was approached to record a contemporary album that mixed rock, jazz and pop. The result was a band that took THE ECLECTIC MOUSE as its moniker and hosted a whopping number of musicians that included Jerry Manfredi (bass), Rick Felix (tuba), Barry Downs (trumpet), Billy Gonzales (trumpet), John Renner (tenor saxophone), Ernie Santos (alto saxophone), Ben Harvey (trombone), Joe N. Corral (flute), Tim Downs (drums), Dennis Lynde (guitar), John Smart (French horn), Kristen Engstrand (piano, organ), Harry Anglum (vocals) and Jack Wilkerson (vocals).

Brass rock was quite popular at the tail end of the 60s with bands like Blood, Sweat and Tears and Chicago finding the biggest success. THE ECLECTIC MOUSE released one album titled EVERYTHING I GOT (subtitled 'Suite for Voice, Wind Ensemble, Percussion and Electric Instruments') and a corresponding 45 single titled "Everything I've Got Belong?" in 1969. The album was recorded in Phoenix, AZ and resulted from a few weeks of rehearsal and very few live takes with no overdubs. While many record labels were interested in the band's rich full sound that took the psychedelic pop of the 60s and mixed it with big band jazz sounds and woven into an interestingly unique form of progressive pop, the majority backed out after learning how expensive it was to support a band that consisted of 15 musicians on a tour. Capital Records finally signed the band but after it's release nothing really came of the album and the project folded shortly thereafter.

EVERYTHING I'VE GOT is a veritable slice of proto-progressive jazz rock that is heavily based in classical music as seen from six tracks that are all movements of an album's listening experience. The album is interesting in that it delivers a wild display of so many instruments playing rock music with a swarm of brass instruments accompanying the guitar, bass and drums. The two vocalists Harry Anglum and Jack Wilkerson deliver almost identical earnest lyrics that remind me of Broadway plays in that the lyrics sort of lead the way for the rest of the band to follow and the entire project comes off as an early rock opera although i don't think it's officially designated as such. The music is fairly bouncy with some more sombre passages adding some contrast. Despite the hideously amateurish album cover courtesy of the record label, THE ECLECTIC MOUSE project was definitely a labor of love with a team of seasoned musicians who could tackle the immensity of so many chefs in the kitchen without anyone stumbling over each other. The music comes off as perfectly designed although it doesn't resonate as ECLECTIC as the name implies.

Compositionally the tracks tend to follow the same pattern with very few variations and the lack of vocal range gives the album a rather compressed feel. The clear standout is the second track "Where Do The Hounds Go" which delivers the most sophisticated compositional flair and also differentiates itself from the rest of the album that tends to sound a bit samey by the end. While the musicianship is top notch, the compositional skills are only mediocre. Due to the lack of sales and instant cult status the project was soon dropped and a reissue of the album has never appeared making this one a true collector's item. Foreman would reinvent himself and become a recording percussionist and perform as a session drummer for many other artists. He also moved to Scotland where he successfully completed his PhD in music composition. THE ECLECTIC MOUSE delivered an interesting artifact from the late 60s with EVERYTHING I'VE GOT but the project clearly needed more time to create more memorable compositions. It's a good album but not really much more.

Thanks to historian9 for the artist addition.

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