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THE FLOCK

Eclectic Prog • United States


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The Flock biography
Signed on the CBS brass-rock craze after BS&T's mega success, than CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTHORITY's much more prog success, Columbia signed also the eclectic ILLINOIS SPEED EXPRESS, the psychedelic AORTA and the brassy THE FLOCK, all three also from Chicago and releasing their debut album the same month as CTA did as well. Apparently a marketing plan to create a Chicago scene, this ploy actually worked correctly since three of the four groups recorded two albums (not going further than that), but we all know what a monster Chicago became. Alas, CBS wouldn't enjoy the same brassy success than with BS&T and CTA with THE FLOCK, even if both their albums sold quite well at the time.

This band is most famous for having violinist Jerry Goodman (later with MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA) but they did not sound anything like the supern jazz-rock giant. Actually their music is very close to what was called Brass Rock at the time because of the extended wind instrument section - although those groups were never associated with jazz-rock. Effectively, THE FLOCK sounds much more like ELECTRIC FLAG, BLOOD SWEAT & TEARS, or the fantastic early CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTHORITY later to become CHICAGO, the well known AOR group. The British equivalent to those bands might be IF and CATAPILLA. But The Flock had a very average songwriting skill and both albums lack excellent productions. Apparently the group reformed in 75 for another album, but the brass/horn section was gone and so was Jerry Goodman.

The first two albums are recommended to anyone liking the above-mentioned groups but also to anyone enjoying jazz-rock.




: : : Bio written by Hugues Chantraine, BELGIUM : : :

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THE FLOCK discography


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THE FLOCK top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.24 | 34 ratings
The Flock
1969
3.09 | 25 ratings
Dinosaur Swamps
1971
2.93 | 13 ratings
Inside Out
1975
0.00 | 0 ratings
Heaven Bound - The Lost Album
2014

THE FLOCK Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

THE FLOCK Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

THE FLOCK Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.21 | 5 ratings
The Flock / Dinosaur Swamps
1972
3.69 | 4 ratings
Flock Rock: Best of the Flock
1993

THE FLOCK Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

THE FLOCK Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Flock by FLOCK, THE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.24 | 34 ratings

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The Flock
The Flock Eclectic Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

2 stars 'The Flock' - The Flock (52/100)

Even while many of the then-obscure acts of the late 60s and early 70s have earned the status of legend, The Flock remains something of a footnote. They're probably best known for being an early home to violinist Jerry Goodman (of Mahavishnu Orchestra glory) but when speaking of their music it's probably best to talk about them in the context of the contemporaneous 'brass rock' scene with which they were a part of. The fusion of driving rock and trumpet embellishments were flagshipped most notably by Blood, Sweat & Tears and the Chicago Transit Authority (better known to FM radio acolytes as Chicago), but there were plenty of imitators that didn't fare nearly so well. The Flock would go on to release two albums following this self-titled debut, but they ultimately failed to realize the potential of their sound. With two saxophonists, a trumpeter and the aforementioned violinist backing up the more conventional rock musicians, I might have expected to hear The Flock bring a higher degree of sophistication to their music than they do. The Flock's debut is a fairly middling rock record with unessential jazz elements sprinkled overtop- the tired psychedelia and American blues rock fetishism aren't anything special, but it's the potential a seven-piece had to become so much more that makes The Flock's debut feel so disappointing.

It's a common criticism I have for many debut albums, but The Flock don't seem to have totally figured out where they want to go musically on this debut. The uninventively named "Introduction" suggests a focus on violins, whereas "Clown" offers up a strong blend of blues rock and jazz-tinged jamming. On the other side, "Truth" unfolds as a dreadfully overdrawn slow blues jam. "Store Bought - Store Thought" sees the band even try their hand at tepid science fiction themes. A more ambitious act could have made these ideas work together, but- to put it bluntly- The Flock aren't particularly good at songwriting. All of the album's greatest moments are when the music starts to take a more improvised turn (see "Introduction"); even then however, The Flock can't seem to figure out how to maximize the use of their jazz instruments.

Frontman Fred Glickstein's voice isn't a mile away from that of the immortal Robert Plant, although he lacks the distinctive charisma that made Zeppelin's frontman spectacular; the vocals on this album however range from that to weak falsettos and headscratching pseudo-opera- believe me when I say it's not nearly as interesting or groundbreaking as it might sound on paper! Although four of the seven musicians in The Flock are playing non-rock instruments, they never seem to figure out how to make proper use of the potential. The trumpets and saxophones are used as a light embellishment at most, and the abundant jams on the album are utterly typical for British rock at the turn-of-the-decade. Not surprisingly, it's Jerry Goodman's violin that earns the lion's share of respect on the album. "Introduction" is a pleasantly misleading track, focusing predominantly on Goodman's violin, even hinting at a possible avant-garde approach with the dissonant and playful way the instrumental unfolds. Of course, that's an exception to the rule. Suffice to say, fans of the Mahavishnu Orchestra will likely find this album horribly underwhelming; even if Goodman's work with electric violin is excellent, there are far better albums you can hear him playing on.

The Flock isn't a bad band, nor is their self-titled a bad album. With so many bands of this ilk forming flash-in-the-pan careers around the same time however, it's pretty difficult to get excited over what they were doing here. Overall, the impression is one of disappointment. The Flock had unconventional instruments enough to do something really interesting stylistically, and instead they stay clung to middling slow blues jams, Kinks covers and wimpy songs about robots. There was potential greatness lurking in The Flock, but like so many others, they failed to achieve the level of focus that needed to unlock it. A shame, really.

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 Inside Out by FLOCK, THE album cover Studio Album, 1975
2.93 | 13 ratings

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Inside Out
The Flock Eclectic Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

2 stars Jerry Goodman had been plucked away by Columbia Records to join Mahavishnu Orchestra after the Flock's second album, leading to the group dissolving and being dropped by the label. Too bad, because the promise showed on those first two records would never be completely realized thanks to the creative vacuum left in the wake of Goodman's departure.

The back cover of 'Inside Out' tells the story of a band that just couldn't stay down, one whose music was crying to get out and led to a metamorphosis of the group with the unknown Mike Zydowsky taking Goodman's place on violin and Mercury replacing Columbia as the bankroll behind the outfit. That's the story as the band told it anyway; the music on this third and final studio effort tells a slightly different story. There are minor flashes of the grand and progressive sound, particularly on the instrumental "Metamorphosis" that features plenty of bent and wandering violin work along with tempo shifts and driving percussion, albeit in a decidedly more rocking vein than their brass- driven earlier work. But that song seems to be the best they could muster on what is otherwise a fairly brief effort consisting of three pedestrian and indistinctive rockers in "Music for our Friends", "Hang On" and "Back to You", along with another violin-dominated number ("My O.K. Today") that tries too hard to be a sort of resurrection anthem for a group that has clearly lost its magic.

The album closes with "Straight Home", a wandering, mostly instrumental tune that displays the talents of the other new member, keyboardist James Hirsen. In fact, Hirsen's presence is felt much more on this record than any of the brass section or violin sounds that so defined the band's sound in their earlier lineup. The abrupt and unimaginative ending ("Music for our Friends" also faded out like a studio track that ran out of tape), showed that the band had little left in the tank as far as creative energy.

Other than "Metamorphosis" this is a forgettable album with little left that resembled the big, spacious brass-rock sound of the group's earlier work. Most of the members pretty much faded away after the record failed at launch to make any inroads into their former fanbase or attract any new interest. The group would reform with a couple different lineups over the years, but for the most part this was a weak swan song. The times were changing anyway, and even peers like Chicago and Steely Dan were adapting their sound into something more commercially appealing and decidedly less progressive than the more ambitious stuff that briefly filled the airwaves in the early seventies. This is easily the weakest of the three Flock albums, and one that only serious fans of the band would likely ever be interested in. Pick it up in a cutout bin if you're so inclined, but be prepared to be underwhelmed. Two stars and not recommended, except maybe for the minor bright spot "Metamorphosis".

peace

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 Dinosaur Swamps by FLOCK, THE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.09 | 25 ratings

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Dinosaur Swamps
The Flock Eclectic Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars The Flock made a rather remarkable transformation on their second album. The lineup is the same including violin impresario Jerry Goodman, but rather than the big brass and jazzy sound that dominated the first record, this one features copious amounts of multi- tracked vocals, an almost country-rock mood and violin work that sometimes borders on what can only be described as 'fiddling'. All in all I have to say I like this album very much, especially since the production quality is noticeably improved over their debut. Still, the significant shift in sound is quite surprising and must have been a bit of a shock to whatever fans they had in the early seventies. Rather than sounding like Chicago or BS&T, comparisons to the Grateful Dead are quite a bit more apropos this time around.

The opening "Green Slice" sounds like Steve Howe setting in on a session with Jerry Garcia, while "Big Bird" retains that country-fried rock sound but adds in the discordant brass that distinguished the middle part of their first album.

"Hornschmeyer's Island" would qualify these guys as a progressive band even if none of their other music had. The shifting tempos and moods along with a blast of vocals followed by a series of contrasting saxophones and trumpet make for a complex and engaging song all by themselves, but the shift midway to a torrid bass rhythm and dissonant violin solo is simply too cool for 1971, and something that impresses even today. Only a real turd of a filler track would have taken away from this, and fortunately the band managed to avoid including such a track which ultimately saves the record as a whole.

I think the oddest tune in the band's entire discography comes next on this record, a bluesy and driving version of James Taylor's laconic "Lighthouse" that apparently only salvages a few of the original lyrics and a heavily amped-up version of Taylor's guitar chord progression. Otherwise this is a heavy rock number that bears almost no resemblance to the original, but does trot out the same sort of harmonized vocals their debut album features, but that sound much better this time around thanks to the improved engineering.

"Crabfoot" is mostly an instrumental track with plenty of trumpet and saxophone (three of them if I hear correctly), a blazing number that shows the band members had managed to gel as a unit after a couple years of touring and studio work together. The scat-like vocals toward the end are unnecessary but don't take much away from the groove.

I'm not sure what the group was trying to accomplish with "Mermaid", a sort of British folk- sounding minstrelly thing that I probably would have appreciated more had it come out on a Dulcimer or Incredible String Album rather than a Flock record. Still, I like the song and give the group some credit for being willing to experiment.

Finally "Uranian Sircus" starts off sounding like something Principal Edward's Magic Theatre would have done, but morphs into a funky and almost psych number with a hippy version of white rap and a frenetic guitar riff that is as annoying as it is intriguing. A truly weird tune that could have only been recorded in 1971 or by Ozric Tentacles, and probably nowhere in between. Very cool.

I actually like this album better than the band's debut, although in the end I can't give it anymore than the three stars I gave that one simply because it is good but not outstanding. Three stars in a five star rating system is just too broad a range I guess. Anyway if you are curious at all about the band I would recommend this one first, followed by their debut record if you're still interested. And there's a CD reissue that combines both of them if you're feeling frisky and want to check them both out.

peace

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 The Flock by FLOCK, THE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.24 | 34 ratings

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The Flock
The Flock Eclectic Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars Columbia Records seemed to have a hankering for these brassy rock bands with complex arrangements and jazz-fusion arrangements back in the late sixties and early seventies. Among the biggest were Chicago and Santana (San Francisco), as well as Weather Report, Steely Dan and Blood, Sweat & Tears from New York, most if not all of them inspired by the likes of Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie but with a firm grounding in rock sensibilities and showmanship as well. The Flock never achieved the same level of recognition as any of these bands, but managed to crank out a couple of pretty decent albums before fracturing with the departure of violinist Jerry Goodman for Mahavishnu Orchestra.

This debut album is rather brief compared to some of the more grandiloquent and lengthy early releases by some of their peers, particularly Chicago and BS&T. And Goodman's electric violin overshadows most of the music, with the brass section playing a complementary role but not dominating as did the horns of the other brass-rock bands of the era. In fact, the first two tracks on this album ("Introduction" and "Clown") are virtually primers on how to employ a violin on a rock album, with "Introduction" being nearly a Goodman solo save for mellow percussion rhythm and a bit of guitar.

The other interesting tracks here are the pompous cover of the Kinks "Tired of Waiting" and the lengthy jam "Truth". "Tired of Waiting" is enhanced by significant fuzzed guitar and a fleshed out the bass line that far exceed the original, in addition to a brief but impressive appearance of Goodman's violin toward the end. "Truth" features the most brass on the album but the band still can't resist adding a lengthy and sometimes disjointed violin solo midway through before descending into a rather glorious brass/bass jam session. Despite the constant comparisons to Chicago, other than the violin this song sounds more like the first Chicago album than anything else on the record.

The only track that borders on filler is "Store Bought - Store Thought" with it's overemphasis of rather weak vocals and lack of general direction. A modestly decent tune but not on par with the rest of the record.

This was an interesting debut by a band that showed considerable talent and promise as the seventies dawned. Unfortunately they were unable to capitalize and despite a couple more records the Flock would disintegrate before the decade reached its midpoint. A good though not great album, but mildly recommended to anyone who has ever been a fan of jam-length, brassy music in the vein of Chicago and the like. Three stars.

peace

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 Flock Rock: Best of the Flock by FLOCK, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1993
3.69 | 4 ratings

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Flock Rock: Best of the Flock
The Flock Eclectic Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars This is a sort of compilation, containing the shorter tracks of both The Flock albums, plus unreleased songs from the album's respective sessions plus a few that were originally foreseen for the group's third album, which never saw the light of day. No-one except blues purists will criticize the label for not selecting the 15- mins Truth track, because of limited space, but lack real interest as well. The unreleased track from their debut album's session track coming comes after the debut album's first side (the flipside being completely ignored) and came out as a single between the two album's releases. From the same session comes Lollipops track that sounds quite different, Eastern European-feeling with a jazzy bass and a rarer flute (as opposed to the sax).

Then pacing through a big part of Dinosaur Swamps, the group's follow-up album, some of the most- representative tracks. The last four tracks of this compilation album being from a Dec 70 session that was to be the group's third album, which would never see the day until this "best of". But if these previously unreleased tracks are to be representative of their third album, then it's a real shame TF broke up, because they were finally about to make a real worthy album for its PA inclusion. Most likely this would've been a live album, named Flock Rock, the name of this compilation and the recordings do not have the same quality as the studio stuff, these being slightly muddy. The short Chanja seems to be an outtake from a killer blues track and features some excellent jazzy jammy moments. Atlantians Trucking Home has the same jam feeling, this time the group having a slight Allman Bros Band, especially on the double guitars (Goodman and Glickstein) with Webb's flute getting some cool licks in. Afrika is yet another jam good jam where the brass section pulls some excellent call and responses. Closing up this "third album" session is the superb Just Do It, with a Coltrane swing, mostly induced by Glichstein's piano, evidently inspired on the awesome McCoy Tyner and as you could guess Canoff and Gerber's sax lines.

With this album being a sort of "best of" with some unreleased live material, Flock rock might just be the only album you'll need from them. Indeed, I'm not that much a fan of TF's two studio albums ((there is nothing that's not done better by Chicago or UK groups like Warm Dust or Galliard) and the choice of this album to omit the debut's two of three longer tracks is a wise one, the selection from DS being a tad more disputable.

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 Inside Out by FLOCK, THE album cover Studio Album, 1975
2.93 | 13 ratings

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Inside Out
The Flock Eclectic Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Gone is the wind section (which is not necessarily a bad thing IMO). Gone is Jerry Goodman (which is not necessarily a good thing IMO). He was replaced by another great violin player : Mike Zydowsky who joined the band in 1973 or so for their touring over Europe.

The music here is less jazz oriented than on their first two albums and there are some very good tracks in here. Still, jazz is very much present during the longest song from this album : "Back To You". It goes along with the poorest : "Hang On" which is a funky / soul song which is best avoided, believe me.

The best number out of this album is "Metamorphosis". Fantastic violin play from Mike and wonderful beat. If only they would have produced more of these. The closing part is simply gorgeous. Full of classicism. Vibrant, poignant, emotional : you name it. THE highlight of course.

Frank Pappalardi (from "Mountain") produced the album which was recorded during a short reunion. Unlike some purists (not on this site), I can't write that this album is bad. It holds several very good violin breaks, nice compositions ("My OK Today" is another one). The closing number is also very intense : powerful drumming, impressive keys and great bass play. Another highlight.

This is a good album after all. But there is no trace of this work on their official website as if the band would like to hide this release.

Three stars.

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 Dinosaur Swamps by FLOCK, THE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.09 | 25 ratings

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Dinosaur Swamps
The Flock Eclectic Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

2 stars The debut album from this US band has a special flavour for me (you can read more details in the appropriate entry). This follow-up has much less to offer IMO.

More jazz-oriented ("Green Slice"° or a combo country-jazz ("Big Bird"° which is excessively poor are not the best start I could have imagined. But things do improve with the subtle "Hornschmeyer's Island". The great Jerry Goodman performs an excellent violin part and vocals are sweet and emotional. Wind instruments not being too present is also a plus as far as I am concerned. The highlight of this album.

The same feeling prevails during "Mermaid". The least jazzy tune form this album. Again Jerry shows all his talent during his violin play which is definitely the highlight of this song (and album). Vocal harmonies are also well balanced.

If you are into jazz-rock, this album deserves your attention. If not, you might be disappointed by the little progressiveness you will discover.

I have a special tenderness for this band, although they don't really play the type of music I am found of, they are so closely related to my early teens with their first album that I'm going to rate this one with two stars. There are no such tracks as "Clown" or I Am The Tall Tree. If ever you would like to discover this band, you should stick to their debut album.

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 The Flock by FLOCK, THE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.24 | 34 ratings

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The Flock
The Flock Eclectic Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

3 stars It is very bizarre that this album ended up in my home in 1972 because jazz-rock and brass were not my cup of tea (and still aren't).

Actually, I first came in contact with The Flock in 1971. I got a CBS sampler album on loan ("Fill Your Head With Rock") and one of the tracks featured was "Tired Of Waiting" which is featured here as well. I liked it and while I was lying in my bed in 1972 (the whole year actually), I used my mail order system to buy this album.

Since my eldest cousin was doing his military service in Germany, he could purchase record at half price. Needless to say that I used this option substantially during this year.

So, the first time I listened to this album, I was a bit disappointed since there was a lot of sax and an overall jazzy mood. But I kept on listening to it (I had basically nothing else to do since I couldn't walk for more than ten months) and I managed to even like this album (although moderately).

Music here is diverse : the great violin play especially during "Introduction" but not only is definitely a highlight of this album. The great jamming capabilities of this band being another one (the instrumental section of "Clown" for instance). Subtle music and beautiful vocal ("I Am The Tall Tree") adds another string to their bow; that's a given.

Their style is very unique. Remember, this was recorded in 1969. To have a full time violinist was not common in those days. And this introduction was rather successful. But to be honest, I had not listened to this album for a very, very long time. I did it some three years ago as well as today for the purpose of this review.

I have to say that my opinion about "Tired of Waiting" has changed a bit. Not as great as I thought. Vocals are excellent and as usual, Jerry Goodman is fabulous. Not bad a track at the end of the day. And the same impression prevails about S"tore Bought.". Even if there is a good guitar section, the brass parts are too much in here.

This album closes on "Truth", the epic track of the album. Over fifteen minutes of a heavy bluesy mood. This one has always been difficult to listen to. Even if there are some cues, this seems widely improvised style; brass being over dominating. Great violin solo again, but you have been used to this by now. It ends up as a complete chaos.

I have been brought back some thirty-six years ago. A souvenir of my youth. I guess that it is always nice (even if '72 was rather painful for me as far as health is concerned). I will rate this work with three stars, sentimentally. An original and different album.

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 Inside Out by FLOCK, THE album cover Studio Album, 1975
2.93 | 13 ratings

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Inside Out
The Flock Eclectic Prog

Review by jonboy

4 stars First up is the name, it's FLOCK, as opposed to THE FLOCK, as the band changed their style of music from a horn laden ed jazzy/rock fusion to a prog rock/pop hybrid band. And what a change. The album cover says it all, a typical prog cover if ever there was. Six tracks (three tracks each side of the LP) of very good music; that can be played as a sort of background music, or turn the volume up music and give it a damn good listen to. My personal favourites are Back To You, and Metamorphosis from side one, and Hang On and My OK Today from side two. I have just managed to get the album again after many years of been without it, ( I played my first copy till it wore out). And my feelings have not changed, it's so good to own it again. If ever you fall lucky and see this album, don't hesitate, buy it immediately.

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 The Flock by FLOCK, THE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.24 | 34 ratings

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The Flock
The Flock Eclectic Prog

Review by greenback
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars As I already said before in a Darryl Way's Wolf review, bands who play simultaneously electric violin and electric guitar are rare; The Flock belong to this select group. As if it was not enough, a very inspiring Zappa-esque mini-brass section garnishes furthermore the melodies, often falling into a refined fusion style: because of all that, The Flock remains a very unique band, capable of being hard rock, big band, bluesy, psychedelic, fusion or even folk: that's why we can classify them as an art rock artist, since they can borrow different musical styles. The Hendrixian & Zeppelin-esque restless running bass patterns contribute to make catchy rhythmic tracks easy to follow. There are absolutely NO keyboards involved on this record. The violinist Jerry Goodman here has a pretty similar style to Stephane Grapelli. The drums & bass free "Introduction" track is absolutely unique & progressive for 1969!

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