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GRITS

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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Grits biography
Overlooked US act, which didn't manage to record an official album during the years of its existence. Grits came from the Washington area, featuring four classically-trained musicians and started their music journey around 1970. Founder of the band keyboardist Rick Barse wrote most of the band's material,which included also female singer/bassist/violin player Amy Taylor, drummer/singer Bob Simms and guitarist/singer Tom Wright. They had a regular live activity and composed tons of original material, but it won't be until 1993, when Cuneiform Records would release some tracks from the 1970-75 period of the band through the album ''As the world Grits''. Another album by the same label, ''Rare birds'', would see the light four years later, this time featuring tracks from the second phase of the band around 1976. Grits would disband for good in 1978 and the last period of the band was covered in the album ''Rock and Roll Madness'' with material exclusively composed by Rick Barse. This last offering became available through CDBaby in 2008. Barse sadly passed away from cancer in early 2001, not being able to see the last material composed by him taped on an official album.

Grits had a quite quirky and progressive sound during the years of their existence. They combined early psychedelic influences with some Classical-drenched instrumental themes and notable jazzy inspirations, making FRANK ZAPPA, EAST OF EDEN, MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA and THE MUFFINS as reasonable reference points. Recommended to all 70's Prog fans, who love some Fusion flavor in their menu.

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GRITS discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

3.35 | 3 ratings
As The World Grits
1993
3.26 | 8 ratings
Rare Birds
1997
0.00 | 0 ratings
Rock And Roll Madness
2008

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

GRITS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

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

GRITS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Rare Birds by GRITS album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.26 | 8 ratings

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Rare Birds
Grits Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by HolyMoly
Forum & Site Admin Group Forum & Site Admin

3 stars Grits were a jazzy prog band from the Washington DC area in the 1970s. During their existence, they never released an album, but the Cuneiform label dropped two archival releases during the 1990s. While the first one, As the World Grits, concentrates on their studio material, the second one, Rare Birds, captures them in an intimate live setting "in the Muffins' backyard", as the liner notes say. The sound quality is pretty good, not fantastic, but good enough.

The pieces are mostly lengthy instrumentals based around jazzy electric piano, with fluid guitar leads (resembling Zappa's style at times), and occasional violin and/or viola (the bassist and guitarist both double on bowed instruments). The style and execution should appeal to fans of Frank Zappa's Petit Wazoo period (1972), The Muffins, Canterbury, and even early Samla Mammas Manna (bits remind me of their Maltid album). The final magnum opus "Rare Birds" even hints at classical music, with violin taking the lead on a playful melody.

While I was expecting a jam-heavy effort with all the long running times, I was surprised to hear how much of this elaborate music is carefully written and arranged. There are solos, but this is no backyard jam session, this is a talented band giving their all, probably just for a small group of friends in the audience. This isn't the most original band in the world, but they've got chops to spare, and it's nice that someone had the foresight to record this band and at least get them some belated recognition.

 As The World Grits by GRITS album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.35 | 3 ratings

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As The World Grits
Grits Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by HolyMoly
Forum & Site Admin Group Forum & Site Admin

4 stars For a band that never released an actual album, Grits sure were a talented band. Fortunately, the world at large finally got to hear them thanks most likely to their local connection with the Cuneiform label (both both hail from the Maryland/DC area). Cuneiform also released a second CD called "Rare Birds" a couple of years later, and while that album was an adventurous piece of live performance of extended Canterbury-like jazz rock fusion, this album, As the World Grits, consists entirely of short songs recorded in a studio. Even though it was compiled years after the fact, it holds together perfectly as a cohesive-sounding album.

The most striking thing about my first listen to this album was its resemblance to Frank Zappa, circa 1970-1971 (roughly, Chunga's Revenge through the Flo and Eddie band). When the guitars are up front, they really jump out at you, usually playing a complex riff or lick. Electric piano (by Rick Barse, the writer of all the material) is prominent as well, bearing more than a passing resemblance to the jazzy strains of George Duke or Ian Underwood. The lyrics are usually striking - not so much humorous as desperate, knowingly melodramatic, and filled to the brim with irony.

Highlights are "Easy for You", sung by bassist/violist Amy Taylor, a manic tirade of insane jealousy. "Back to the Suburbs" puts Rick Barse at the mic, whining about his emotional problems (again, with irony) and longing for the simpler days of his youth. "Plastic Hits" sounds almost exactly like a Zappa/Flo and Eddie porn-rocker, tons of fun. This leads into a connected jam, "Plastic Jam", which also sounds like it came off the Fillmore East album. Then that segues into a more delicate instrumental "Never Mind", which sounds like something off of Burnt Weeny Sandwich. Without going into every song, I'll just say that the album jumps from fun, interesting track to fun, interesting track, incorporating hard rock, jazzy rock, a shockingly touching Broadway-style number (the Taylor-sung "Distraction", about being deliriously in love, probably a bit too much so), and on and on. A perfectly enjoyable album from start to finish.

"Rare Birds" may be the more progressive album, but this album is a lot more fun. Give it a shot.

 As The World Grits by GRITS album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.35 | 3 ratings

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As The World Grits
Grits Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Another obscure act from the 70's,which didn't manage to record an official album during the years of its existence.Grits came from the Washingtin area,US,featuring four classically-trained musicians and started their music journey around 1970.Founder of the band keyboardist Rick Barse wrote most of the band's material,which included also female singer/bassist/violin player Amy Taylor,drummer/singer Bob Simms and guitarist/singer Tom Wright.Thanks to Cuneiform Records Records,material between 1971 and 1975 was collected and released as a posthumous CD in 1993.

Grits were quite an eclectic band,mixing elements from Classic Rock,Jazz Rock,Country Music,Psychedelic Rock and Classical-inspired keys into an attractive package.The first few tracks are actually Country-flavored psychedelic/classic rock with a few classical influences on keys and both nice male and female vocals.On the other hand ''Plastic jam'' and ''Never Mind'' show dominant Jazz and Classical influences with often a Canterbury edge and great work on electric piano and harpsichord respectively.''Hyattsville Hospital'' shows strong GENTLE GIANT influences.Not everything by the band is great,like the following country-flavored ballad ''The Night You Told Me'' and the mediocre accesible rocker ''Distraction''.''Beef The Diver '' sounds again close to Canterbury Prog in the vein of NATIONAL HEALTH,while ''Glad All Over'' is decent but far from really interesting.''Scared So'' is absolutely satisfying with good violin solos and a classical edge like a mix between MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA and EAST OF EDEN and ''Propably nothing'' is based on the decent vocal harmonies of the band with also interesting keys around,again a style close to GENTLE GIANT.'' Pine Street'' will close the album in a nice way,a long instrumental full of careful interplays,rich instrumentation and heavy Jazz- and Symphonic-influenced sections.

Grits are actually way better than a lot of bands,which eventually got an opportunity for an official release during the 70's,but do not expect something really extraordinary.The musicians are talented,most of the compositions are well-executed,but you wont find anything deserving a special mention here,not to refer that a couple of tracks are rather dated.Nevertheless,this album is a good and pleasant listening,nothing more or less.Recommended.

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