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Sweet Smoke - Just a Poke CD (album) cover


Sweet Smoke


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.89 | 143 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars At the beginning of the 1970s, a bunch of Jewish guys from New York (they're Jewish because they have names like Andy Dershin, Jay Dorfman, Steve Rosenstein, and Marvin Kaminowitz) moved to Germany (you can add SWEET SMOKE with The BLUES PROJECT and the J. GEILS BAND as another all or almost-all Jewish rock band). The music they played was jazzy prog/psych, and was not like what most other American bands of the time were doing. What they played seemed to have been better received in Germany than their native America. I am also reminded of NEKTAR (except they were British), because they too had to move to Germany because they were better received there.

"Just A Poke" was released on EMI/Columbia over in Germany. This album consists of only two side length cuts with Andy Dershin on bass, Jay Dorfman on drums and percussion, Marvin Kaminowitz on vocals and guitar, Michael Paris on saxes, flute, vocals, and percussion, and Steve Rosenstein on guitar on vocals. The two cuts are "Baby Night" (side one) and "Silly Sally" (side two), although side one was really "Silly Sally" and side two was really "Baby Night". Apparently the record company had it all messed up when they printed up the LP (and that problem was apparently not fixed when it was reissued on CD). Anyways, "Silly Sally" starts off almost medieval sounding, with recorder and acoustic guitar. Once the vocals kick in (by Kaminowitz), you can tell his voice does sound quite American. Eventually the song turns to electric guitar (without fuzz) and the get to some extended jams. As the jam ends, they go in to an uncredited version of the DOORS' "Soft Parade" (I guess they did not make any mention or give them credit, since they probably didn't ask for permission, and didn't want to get in trouble). Then at the end, the go back to a variation of the beginning theme, but with a different rhythm. "Baby Night" is a more bluesy piece, more relying on groves, before they go in to an extensive drum solo that reminds me of "In-a-Gadda- da-Vida", as well as all sorts of percussion.

Often SWEET SMOKE gets lumped in the Krautrock bunch, which is a bit weird, given these guys were actually New Yorkers, and they hardly sound like CAN, FAUST, ASH RA TEMPEL, AMON DÜÜ: II, etc., and more stick in the traditional prog/psych vein. And because of lack of keyboards, it's basically the guitar and wind instruments that dominate. But strangely, another album from SWEET SMOKE wouldn't surface until 1973, and that album would be "Darkness to Light" and they were recording for Harvest Records by that time (and a lineup change). They also released a live album the following year, but since disappeared (I heard the guys from SWEET SMOKE had since returned to America, usually to some white-collar job). Well, anyways "Just a Poke" might fall short of being essential in my book, it's still a nice album to have in your collection.

Proghead | 4/5 |


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