what Frank is listening to #13 – SEATRAIN – Self Titled – (Capitol) – 1970
I didn't know what to make of this when I found it .
I liked the cover, where the band look a less hairy version of The Band. Flipping it over I saw that there were covers of Lowell George (Little Feat) and Goffin and King as well as the traditional "Orange Blossom Special" (the Johnny Cash mid 1960s hit). They are also produced in England by George Martin. They looked like Yanks but they could have been Fairport Convention type English folkies.
On research it seems as if I had struck minor gold, with them described as a "roots-fusion" band. I have always been partial to US roots rock (when not done academically) and I also like a lot of fusion (Chicago Transit Authority, Blood Sweat and Tears etc) so I thought this should be interesting. As it happens, the band are American and decided to relocate from NYC to California which explains the fusion and roots influences if you accept that those styles were influenced by those two locales.
Seatrain are made up of members of (the great) Blues Project and the (equally great) Jim Kweskin Jug Band (both bands worth seeking out if you don't know who they are). Given that both of those bands were quirky and original only reassured me.
Side 1: The Lowell George track "I'm Willing" is excellent (an ode to drug running) and the rest of the first side is pleasant, err "roots-fusion". "Song of Job" is weird lyrically. "Home to You" and Broken Morning" are good but "Out where the Hills" with its crazy violin (like something out of the "Fairport Convention") and shifting mood is "out there over the hills" …. I like it.
Side 2 is practically all rootsy violin (fiddle) or at least producer George Martin has concentrated on the violin …"13 Questions" about a UFO encounter is good and it was the single – and it made the top 50! (#49) … you would not get a track like this nowadays in the charts (and we are the more poorer for it). "Sally Goodin" is a traditional and " Oh My Love" sounds like it should be … they are followed by a country soul lament written by Goffin and King ! ("Creepin Midnight"). The last track is a fast and furious "Orange Blossom Special" done like "Old and in the Way" or "Grateful Dead" with the fiddle in place of the guitar.
This is definitely one to take with you on a country drive or to play at a hippie hoe-down.
All in all … a good album and I would say a keeper .
Orange Blossom Special
Trivia: For those Beatles fans out there … this is the first non-Beatles rock album produced by George Martin.
(originally posted: 21/04/2009)