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LIFT

Symphonic Prog • United States


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Lift biography
History:
'The New Orleans Years' (1972-1975):
LIFT was formed in June, of 1972, by keyboardist, Chip Gremillion, bassist, Cody Kelleher and drummer, Chip Grevemberg. Although they all had worked together in numerous groups previously, LIFT was formed with the purpose of being a progressive band from the South. Chris Young was added on rhythm guitar, 12 string and vocals in the first month. Lead vocalist Courtenay Hilton-Green, from Pensacola Florida, who had worked with Gremillion previously and lead guitarist Richard Huxen of New Orleans joined within several months. Chris Young left the group shortly thereafter to pursue other interests, but not before penning the lyric to "Simplicity" and co-writing the lyric for "Caverns" with Chip Gremillion and Courtney Hilton-Green. By late fall of 1972 the five member group now consisting of Gremillion, Kelleher, Grevemberg, Hilton-Green and Huxen began to rapidly build a strong following, even among area musicians who were often seen at LIFT performances. Throughout 1973 LIFT continued to attract the support of audiences and local music critics. LIFT became a frequent highlight performer at area universities for special events.

Local club performances were often standing room only with musicians and fans enjoying the show equally. LIFT continued to cover ever increasing and complex pieces of progressive music. LIFT would often begin it's show with the Genesis tune, "Watcher of the Skies". Imagine the condition this created in a southern audience in 1973. Aside from standard southern bands, LIFT covered, Led Zeppelin, Beatles, Uriah Heap, Robin Trower, ELP, Yes, King Crimson, Moody Blues and gradually introduced original material as it was composed.

In the summer of 1974 producer Sonny Fox put LIFT in the studio and recorded four songs; Simplicity, Caverns, Buttercup Boogie and Tripping Over the Rainbow. Most band members were barely 19 at the time. LIFT continued to perform in the New Orleans area and increase in popularity. LIFT incorporated the recorded songs as well as additional original material into their live sets. In the late Fall of 1975, at the suggestion of Sonny Fox, LIFT relocated to Atlanta.
'The Atlanta Years' (1975-1979):

From the outset Atlanta was a challenge. Nothing went according to plan! Just months after relocating and based upon the material from the 1974 "Caverns" session, LIFT went to Philadelphia to re-record modified versions of "Simplicity", and "Trippin...
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LIFT discography


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

3.64 | 23 ratings
Caverns Of Your Brain
1977

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3.09 | 6 ratings
The Moment Of Hearing
2001

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LIFT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Moment Of Hearing by LIFT album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2001
3.09 | 6 ratings

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The Moment Of Hearing
Lift Symphonic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars After finishing their debut album the band decided to relocate from New Orleans to Atlanta, Georgia. Not long after the move the vocalist (male) along with the bass player left the band. So this Atlanta lineup sounds quite different as they added a female singer, a new bass player plus a second guitarist who also played mellotron. Since i've already reviewed the debut album which is included on this compilation i'll focus on the songs from the "Atlanta Years". The music here is less energetic than the "New Orleans Years" which isn't a bad thing at all, but like the debut the vocals (although different of course) I would classify as below average at best.The variety of keyboards is the highlight on this one. At one time we could be hearing the keyboardist, the guitar player playing mellotron and the singer playing synths.

"Perspectives" opens with drums and keyboards then it settles as acoustic guitar and vocals arrive. My favourite section is the instrumental passage before 4 1/2 minutes to after 7 1/2 minutes. Nice. "The Toast" is led by synths(I think) and drums as male vocals join in.The sound quality isn't the best here. Not a fan at all although the mellotron after 5 minutes is good.

"The Waiting Room" opens with mellotron, strummed guitar, bass and drums as the vocals join in. She sounds like Kate Bush here with those high pitched vocals. "The Masque" sounds good to start as it's quite pastoral. Vocals after a minute. Some aggressive guitar before 5 1/2 minutes.Some male and female vocal arrangements follow. "Wind Psalm" opens with organ then it settles with drums and piano. It picks up before 3 1/2 minutes. Orchestral-like sounds after 5 minutes to end it.

There are a lot of fans of this band out there so if your into Symphonic music with a fair amount of mellotron this might be for you.

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 Caverns Of Your Brain by LIFT album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.64 | 23 ratings

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Caverns Of Your Brain
Lift Symphonic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars You don't hear of too many Prog bands who are from the deep south of the USA, but LIFT were one of them as they were originally based in New Orleans.This album was first recorded in 1974 with only 500 copies being made. A bootleg was made of this recording in 1977 then the Synphonic label released it on cd from the original master tapes in 1990, unlike the bootleg.The music here is of the GENESIS / YES mold and very energetic with the drumming being outfront and prominant throughout.The vocals are the big negative for me, I just can't get into them. Lots of mellotron here though as this is somewhat of a minor mellotron classic.

"Simplicity" has a good beat as the guitar and keys come and go over top.The drumming is fantastic. Organ comes in after 2 1/2 minutes then the vocals. Catchy stuff. Mellotron is more prominant after 8 minutes. A good energetic opener. "Caverns" features outbursts of sound before it settles down and reserved vocals join in. Gotta love the guitar solo as the drums pound. Piano takes over for the guitar then the vocals return. The keyboards sound great early on in

"Buttercup Boogie" then the vocals take the spotlight.The drumming is energetic as usual. I like the guitar before 3 minutes and later before 5 1/2 minutes. "Tripping Over The Rainbow" is the over 11 minute closer. It has this epic intro then the tempo picks up. Synths and bass lead after a minute and vocals follow. Pulsating keys after 5 minutes. Nice. The chunky bass is excellent throughout.

There's everything here that Prog fans love so it's well worth checking out.

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 Caverns Of Your Brain by LIFT album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.64 | 23 ratings

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Caverns Of Your Brain
Lift Symphonic Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I was quite interested to know this obscure prog band from the 70┤s. I simply had never heard of them. Their sole LP was recorded in 1974, but only release (illegally, I think) in 1980. In 1990 their work was put on the market as an official CD. They are also from USA, another feature from a symphonic band at the time. So, in the end, was it worth it?

The first track is not very promising: it is really a Yes rip off or, more precisely, a Yours Is No Disgrace rif off. Everything here was takes from Yes: the fat Rickenbaker bass lines, organ fills and guitar riffing. Even the vocalist sounds like one of the many Jon Anderson┤s imitators. Fortunalty things get a lot better with the second track, Caverns. Yes is still the main influence but they show some personality at last. This is even more so on the third song, Buttercup Blues, also the shortest one on the CD. The Yes syndrome returns with the closing tune Tripping Over The Rainbow. Still, they managed to make this song to be quite strong and convincing with its many moods and shifting sounds. Nothing original, but still very well written, arranged and performed. From the second track on I liked them all, specially the fine guitar solos and the wonderful keyboards waves. Really good!

In all I found this CD to be quite pleasant and attractive. With all its faults it is obvious that the band had potential to become very big. It is only a shame they never had the chance to grow past their influences. Certainly they were a alented and skillful bunch. If you like classic 70┤s prog (Yes, ELP, Kansas, etc) and can live with the lack of originality, this CD is recommended.

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 Caverns Of Your Brain by LIFT album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.64 | 23 ratings

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Caverns Of Your Brain
Lift Symphonic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars A nice little surprise.

Well, most symphonic prog albums I get my grubby fingers on are nice surprises. This one is no exception. Lift does a mix of Genesis, Yes and Kansas. Add AOR and neo-prog like IQ (yes, eight years before their first album) into the mix and you have this band. The music is drenched in vintage keyboards. The vocals are pretty OK. The references to Genesis many. The songs are good too.

I am sorry that my enthusiasm is not the greatest here. I have heard far too many good symphonic prog albums during the last year. This one is one of them. It is nice, but it never ever venture into unknown territory. It is workman-like symphonic prog which follows a well throdden path. The right formula is there and that's it. The opening track is great and the rest of the album is good. Check it out because this album is pretty unknown and I am sure it may make you very happy.

3 stars

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 Caverns Of Your Brain by LIFT album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.64 | 23 ratings

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Caverns Of Your Brain
Lift Symphonic Prog

Review by jimidom

4 stars So this is Prog American Style? New Orleans band Lift pay tribute to the giants of Symphonic Prog such as Yes , Genesis, and ELP with Caverns of Your Brain. Originally released in the late 1970's as a bootleg LP, it was reissued on CD in the early 90's. My own copy was "permanently borrowed" from a friend who knew all-too-well about my musical tastes and didn't really expect it back anyway. With Banks-esque keyboards, Squire-like bass guitar, and Anderson-inspired vocals, Caverns of Your Brain contains four tracks that sound as if they could have been written and recorded from across the pond back in 1972.

"Simplicity" is a rousing opener with a soaring vocal from Courteny Hilton-Green and mellotron from Chip Gremillion over superb rhythm section work from Grevemberg and Kelleher. "Caverns" follows with beautiful keyboards from Gremillion and nimble-fingered guitar work from Ricahrd Huxen. "Buttercup Boogie" is a hard driving boogie track that keeps its prog leanings thanks to beautiful B3 and synth work from Gremillion as well as Huxen's superb lead guitar. However, the highlight of the LP is the long closing track "Tripping Over the Rainbow". With Gremillion's ethereal B3 and synth over more rhythm section excellence from Grevemberg and Kelleher, this tune provides some of the most dynamic moments of Caverns of Your Brain.

Yes, this particular album is a rarity, but these tunes are avaiable in other compilations/packages direct from Greg Walker. Even though it's highly derivative, it is adventurous music. So if you are true prog connoisseur, and you can find Caverns of Your Brain, by all means get it. It is highly recommended!

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 Caverns Of Your Brain by LIFT album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.64 | 23 ratings

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Caverns Of Your Brain
Lift Symphonic Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

4 stars My main interest in this band came when I first learned about them and realized they were a symphonic-leaning progressive group from the American South (New Orleans Louisiana) in the early seventies. Do the math real quick on those facts and it seems inconceivable to me that these guys weren’t at least passingly familiar with one or more of the early Kansas lineups from the same period. Pre-Kansas White Clover played the New Orleans Pop Festival in 1969, and one of the first lineups to bear the name Kansas opened for the Doors at the Warehouse in 1970. It would not be a stretch to assume these guys were in attendance at one or both of these shows. Kansas also recorded ‘Masque’ and ‘Leftoverture’ in Louisiana in 1975 and 1976; and both bands relocated to Atlanta in the mid-seventies. Both bands centered their music on strong Hammond B3 keyboardists, free-form blues- rock guitar riffs, and spacey lyrics with ‘meaning of life’ themes as opposed to tales of fantasy worlds or mystic creatures like so many of their European contemporaries were doing at the time. Kansas has a violinist; the Lift had a flautist. Both bands were clearly inspired by the British masters of the day like Yes, ELP, and Genesis, but both produced music in a more aggressive, bluesy and earthy vein that so characterized the American progressive movement of the earlier seventies.

So it was inevitable I would like these guys even before I heard them. And after hearing this album I’m kind of saddened that they remained mostly a deep South phenomenon and never achieved any widespread exposure back then. Too bad, because this is an excellent album, and a great example of quintessential mid-seventies American symphonic rock.

This album was never officially released after Sony commissioned it in 1975, but a bootlegged version was released on vinyl with a different cover and made from a set of backup tapes from the studio sessions. The band re-recorded the first and fourth tracks a couple years later in Philadelphia, but it wouldn’t be until Syn-phonic got hold of the master tapes in the nineties that this would finally be officially released.

The album consists of only four tracks, but three of them are extended progressive works with plenty of keyboard tangents, grooving bass, and liberal sprinklings of electric, acoustic, and even some slide guitar. “Caverns” and “Buttercup Boogie” also include noticeable mellotron passages, although this is not one of those seventies “Mellotron-laden” symphonic albums. The Hammond features much more prominently.

“Simplicity” opens the album and this ten-minute, mostly instrumental work opens like an ELP composition but quickly settles into a much more fast-paced, dynamic tempo than most of that band’s work. Bassist Cody Kelleher is playing a Moog (Taurus) bass pedal here, and the sound gets pretty muddled at times. That also serves to date this as one of the later versions of the song, since to the best of my knowledge that pedal wasn’t released when the band first recorded this song for Sony. The complex keyboard passages and sporadically shifting tempos sound very familiar and comfortable to my ears, but I have to say that I really don’t hear any strong parroting or lifting of any other prog band’s sound. The vocals are closer to bands like Ambrosia than to the European bands of that period, and the guitar work borders on Wishbone Ash, but could just as easily be compared to Allman Brothers (just one guitar though, so without the twin-attack both of those bands were famous for). The theme is appealing enough, especially considering the time in which it was written:

“men, they travel out toward the stars, seeking to find the unknown; I just want to stay here on Earth and seek some peace of my own”,

Sure, okay. The bookend for this song is the second track “Caverns” whose theme is about tranquility, so more of the same. This track appears to be from the earlier Sony sessions in New Orleans, as the band’s is a bit less polished, there is some mellotron wafting in from the background (along with electric piano), and the bass pedal is missing. This sound an awful lot like the back half of the first Klaatu album, as well as a couple tracks off the Proto-Kaw ‘Early Recordings’ collection – slightly folkish, slow, rolling drums, and flute garnishing a rather stark piano and some fat blues-guitar. Very nicely done, and a real pleasure to enjoy. This would have been a great live piece, and I’m sure the band featured it in most or all their concerts.

“Buttercup Boogie” is apparently the Lift’s equivalent of Kansas tunes like “Down the Road”, “Bringing it Back”, “The Devil Game”, or “It Takes a Woman’s Love (To Make a Man)”. That is, southern boogie-driven jamming with a progressive, slightly symphonic finish on it. There are a couple of great extended keyboard sections here, and I can barely hear what I’m pretty sure is a mellotron in the background. This is another track that I assume is from the first recording session for this album.

Finally the longest and most interesting track is the closing “Trippin' Over The Rainbow”, a nearly twelve-minute mini-epic that opens a lot like a Kansas tune with majestic, stilting keyboards and giving way to harmonized vocals and an entire music-story told mostly by keyboards and lots of excellent guitar work. Near as I can tell this is about the singer getting stoned with his old lady. No problem, it was the seventies, and the long instrumental passages make this well worth a listen.

This is truly a lost gem of seventies symphonic prog. Along with bands like Sindelfingen, the Load, Leviathan, Providence, and many others, these guys just didn’t quite get the breaks that some of their more successful brethren did. But that doesn’t mean their music wasn’t just as good. Four stars, almost five, and very highly recommended.

peace

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 Caverns Of Your Brain by LIFT album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.64 | 23 ratings

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Caverns Of Your Brain
Lift Symphonic Prog

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars From the USA came Lift, an enthusiastic and talented progressive ensemble that released their debut album "Caverns of Your Brain" during the second half of the 70s, although their repertoire at the time was older ,as well as more abundant than the one finally container in the original release. What we have here is a combination of vibrating melodic symphonic prog (pre-Howe Yes, Flash), the energy of "Remember the Future"- era Nektar and the eerie ambiances of Floydian inspiration, generally for the softer parts of the material. Hilton-Green's vocal timber helps the band to keep their Yessian tendencies well alive. The musical ideas are more focused on dynamics than on solidity, which makes them stand closer to their compatriots Quill and The Load and less closer to Kansas and Babylon (just to name other compatriots): the musicians of Lift are more into deepening the potentials of their musical ideas and transform them into robust jamming in an ordered fashion, yet revealing wide space for freedom in the culmination of their sonic expression. Given the special role assumed by orchestrations, leads and ornaments on his instrumental array, keyboardsman Chip Gremillion manages to become the band's musical leader, although this factor shouldn't stop the listener from noticing the fluidity of the rhythm section's input. The bass player takes his Squire influences into a solid territory of his own, while the drummer provides a very interesting swing to his performances. This recording kicks off with 'Simplicity', a pretty joyful number that expands itself in combining tempos of 4/4 and 7/8 in order to exploit the catchiness of the main motif. It is a simplistic yet effective motif, indeed. 'Cavers' portrays a more solemn mood built on a slow rhythm pace. There is plenty of room for the elaboration of mesmeric synthesizer and mellotron layers, which set a majestic pace for the appearance of ethereal guitar leads (perhaps a steel guitar?). Very Floydian in essence, although it patently bears a sense of pomposity that leans them closer to the Yes Thing. 'Buttercup Boogie' is a boogie rock built on a bluesy organ motif that is displayed in a very frantic tempo. This is the catchiest tune in the album, but not without its old fashioned progressive complexity - that is, here you will find well crafted guitar and keyboard solos, as well as the crucial momentary bass guitar adornments, while the drummer keeps himself busy and concentrated on maintaining a perfect precision while things keep going on. The last 11 minutes are occupied by the album's highlight, the epic 'Trippin' over the Rainbow', which comprises the most complex articulation of various musical motifs. The alternation between the most serene and the rockiest passages is very well balanced, and again, Gremillion's predominant role on keyboards (especially mellotron and synthesizers) proves essential for the preservation and consistent enhancement of the song's orchestral feel all the way through. While not being a groundbreaking album per se, this Lift effort is a real progressive lost gem that is awaiting a proper recognition from prog collectors. "Caverns of Your Brain" should be a valuable item for genuine symphonic prog lovers.

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 The Moment Of Hearing by LIFT album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2001
3.09 | 6 ratings

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The Moment Of Hearing
Lift Symphonic Prog

Review by erik neuteboom
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Lift was a great USA progrock band that existed in two line-ups in the Seventies: the New Orleans years between 1972 and 1975 and the Atlanta years between 1975 and 1979. In 1974 the band recorded four songs but they were never released officially. In 1977 an illegal LP was released by the label Guiness Records but it lasted until 1990 until the album was legally released by the known USA progrock label Syn-Phonic from Greg Walker.

This CD is a compilation that contains the four compositions from the original album (Yes inspired and loaded with vintage keyboards like the spectacular Moog synthesizer, the ubiquitous Mellotron and the powerful Hammond organ) and five compositions from the Atlanta years. These are more mid-Genesis oriented and have female vocals in the vein of Annie Haslam (Renaissance). Most songs sound nice but not really special except the two tracks The Waiting Room (wonderful twanging acoustic guitar and a flashy synthesizer solo) and The Masque (dreamy start, great build-up featuring choir-Mellotron and a fiery guitar solo). If you don't own the Caverns Of Your Brain CD, this CD is a must. If you already have that 1990 CD, then this could be a fine addition. It's up to your taste ... and perhaps your purse?



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 Caverns Of Your Brain by LIFT album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.64 | 23 ratings

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Caverns Of Your Brain
Lift Symphonic Prog

Review by erik neuteboom
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Early 2004 I started to work for Prog Archives but not until a few months ago I discovered that this overlooked gem from the USA was not on this site so justice had to be done! The five piece band LIFT recorded four songs in the studio in 1974 but the band disbanded five years later without making a demo or LP. However, in 1977 the label Guiness Records released the four recorded studio tracks from Lift on a LP entitled "Caverns Of Your Brain". This was illegal! Thanks to the #1 USA proghead Greg Walker the LP was put on CD on Greg his label Syn-Phonic and released as a CD in 1990.

Most tracks contain a fluent and dynamic rhythm-section (often a propulsive Chris Squire-like Rickenbacker bass sound) featuring very exciting work on vintage keyboards: wonderful violin-Mellotron waves and majestic choir-Mellotron eruptions, powerful Hammond work and sensational, fat sounding Moog flights, GOOSE BUMPS! The vocals evoke Jon Anderson and the guitarwork is a bit on the background but in the more mellow song "Caverns" the solo is beautful, very sensitive and build-up strongly.

IF YOU LIKE PLEASANT AND MELODIC, SEVENTIES INSPIRED VINTAGE KEYBOARDS DRENCHED SYMPHONIC ROCK, THIS ONE IS YOURS!!



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Thanks to erik neuteboom for the artist addition.

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