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Sweetwater - Sweetwater CD (album) cover





3.57 | 20 ratings

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4 stars A couple years ago, and after some debate, I added SWEETWATER, an excellent USA band, the funny thing is that the debate was never about adding them or not, but about what sub-genre suited them best.

According to most sites in the net and the bibliography available, they are considered a Psyche band, but despite this opinions we verified that while most bands were playing with guitars, bass, drums and keyboards or some even more adventurous hired an orchestra to add some artificial intros and/or codas to pop songs, SWEETWATER was using flute, cellos, congas and extra percussion plus an elaborate vocal work to create unusually complex polyphonic structures with fantastic dissonances. They even dare to jump from Folk to Blues based Rock, Jazzy tunes and of course some clearly Psyche tracks, so Proto Prog was the correct place for them.

Many people will ask why they are so unknown, well the answer is in the biography and the excellent review by ClemofNazareth, the tragedy hits them very hard, and lost their place in Prog history. Now, lets go to album itself, which is opened by their most famous performance Motherless Child, a traditional folk tune with excellent arrangements, where the wonderful voice of Nansi Nevins is one of the highlights. This song was performed by the band in Woodstock and as a fact it was the first track performed by a band in the Festival.

The flute by Albert B. Moore and percussion by Elpidio Cobian, blend perfectly wit the strong Psyche organ and the blues based guitar, a fantastic track by SWEETWATER.

In a Rainbow is a totally different track, with an almost medieval short intro that suddenly morphs into a vocal extravaganza with incredibly elaborate chorus where the voice of Nansi is the star. The structure itself reminds me very much of Their Satanic Majesties Request by the Stones with a touch of The Mamas and the Papas and Jefferson Airplane.

Here We Go Again is a typical Psyche song, the first track you would expect from a West Coast band in the late 60's, nothing too innovative but very nice for the listener. My Crystal Spider is probably the most complex track I ever heard from a band of those days, it was common to use dissonant vocal, but real complex polyphonic music with the flute and Cello almost jamming a different tune than the rest of the bans was something very unusual, if you add the blend of genres and influences, you got a Prog track in 1968.

For Pete's Sake is a blend of Acid Psychedelia and Folk that reminds me of some songs performed years later by RENAISSANCE, mainly Prologue, a song that leads us to the short Medieval and almost troubadouresque Rondeau where the polyphonic chorus are the highlight, again an unusual song for 1968.

Come Take a Walk is a radical change from the previous tracks, a simple but very pleasant Blues based ballad blended with a hint of Country, interesting fusion of styles but nothing spectacular.

Two Worlds is probably the weakest track of the album, IMO a filler to prepare the listeners for What's Wrong a song with naive idealistic Flower Power lyrics but excellent musical structure. The first time where the band presents male and female vocals singing simultaneously, while Cobian in the percussion and August Burns in the Cello make a fantastic performance that combines perfectly with Delzoppo keyboards.

Through an Old Storybook is another almost Medieval tune that morphs into an excellent ballad based in the flute performance of Albert B. Moore, reminiscent of Carry on Till Tomorrow by BADFINGER (despite Badfinger released their hit one year later). And the band closes the album with Why Oh Why, a weird track that fuses Psyche with R&B, a funky way to close the album.

Honestly, I consider this album almost essential for any Proghead, because shows clearly one of the first stages of the genre with solid compositions performed with great skills and technique, will rate it with four stars.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 4/5 |


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