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Appaloosa - Appaloosa CD (album) cover





3.28 | 10 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!

Appaloosa's sole album is a textbook case of baroque folk, which was a term "en vogue" in the late 60's, and described a folk rock laced with symphonic classical music; and with Al Kooper's connection (both musical and production-wise) it became one of those influential albums, even if it only stayed four weeks in the US billboard, peaking at 128. Named after the horses and graced with a sober group picture for artwork, the album epitomizes a bit the Boston folk-rock scene, which saw Earth Opera (and its continuation Sea Train) and James Taylor emerge from also. The baroque folk genre can be applied to the Beatles' Eleanor Rogby as well as the Rolling Stone's Ruby Tuesday as well to artistes like Nick Drake, Donova, Tim Buckley and John Martyn. All of the 11 tracks are written by singer-guitarist John Parker Compton, whose songwriting evokes Joni Mitchell and later singer- songwriters in the 15 years surrounding this album's release.

Opening track Tulu Rogers is a Bach-laced pastoral New England countryside folk piece with just the group playing guitar, violin, cello, and bass at its purest and progressive essence of Appaloosa. On the flipside Pascal's Paradox is much the same.Yesterday's Road has Reiser's bass soaring and Kooper "uncontrollably tinkling" (his words) on el piano, which gives a delightful flavour to this nostalgic track, where Rosov's cello gives it some solemnity. Feathers is a pre-James Taylor-type song, something he would export with much greater success than did Appaloosa.

Progheads will be more interested with Thoughts Of Polly, a folk rock track with its touches of both classical and jazz; concluding in a dizzy jazz-coda courtesy of Blood, Sweat &Tears' Fred Lipsius and his distinctive sax, sounding absolutely delightful, daring and progressive. At close to 6 minutes, this is the album's highlight. On the flipside, Georgia Street is set up a bit like the Polly track with similar arrangements and unusual shifting rhythms.

The Charlie Calello-arranged Bi-Weekly was recorded in the upper studio to fit the full orchestra (with horns as well); it was thought to be the hit-single, especially with the distinctive Al Kooper organ ending. Oddly enough, this track will also find its flipside equivalent, Now That I Want You, albeit this time with a full rock band backing it up, with BS&T's Bobby Colomby drumming up a storm. Glossolalia, a Donovan-esque folk song is bassist's Reiser's moment of glory, as his jazz-tinged bass playing, while Rivers Run To The Sea has drummer Colomby and Kooper on electric guitar as added musicians is nearing pure folk rock ala Fairport Convention. The closing Rosalie was originally performed for years as a folk song and Kooper folk-rocked it up with piano and electric guitar again nearing Fairport but being country-esque as well.

While I wouldn't call Appaloosa's album anything really essential to progressive folk, it is indeed one of those albums that helped in parts consolidating the genre, and even might have served as a blueprints to a few artistes. Impeccably produced by Kooper, the album can only interest progheads into gentle un-complicated folk rock.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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