Larry Knechtel (1989) Mountain Moods (LP) Universal Master Series (UVL-6279)

Larry Knechtel
Mountain Moods
1989
Universal Master Series (UVL-6279)
Produced by Norbert Putnam and Jim Horn
*** noteworthy

While a set of mellow pop-jazz instrumentals from the late 80s sounds like something that should be lost and soon forgotten, this was the first solo album by legendary session man Larry Knechtel so it should not be surprising that it’s quite enjoyable.

The mellow sound might come as a surprise to listeners who knew Larry as the bassist on the Doors’ first album, a member of Duane Eddy’s Rebels, and an important part of the Wrecking Crew and their “Wall of Sound,” but this man also played a big part in the band Bread, contributed piano and arrangements for “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” played bass on “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and offered Hammond B3 organ on Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds.

His more reflective work from the past foreshadows the music on this album, but this seems mostly a reflection of his many years in the Pacific Northwest. This was recorded in his new home in Nashville after living for many years in Yakima, Washington. While this perhaps has some slight connection with Chet Atkins and Nashville’s use of sophisticated arrangements to compliment their down-home sounds, this was clearly Larry Knechtel’s project. As the title suggests and the sound supports, this seems much less a reflection of his new home in Nashville and more a remembrance of his mountain home in Washington.

When he was barely 30, he might have been frustrated with the soft-rock of Bread, but here he seems completely comfortable, slipping into the music like slipping a flannel jacket over your shoulders, and this comfortable feeling makes listening to this music so enjoyable, like taking a stroll down a mountain road. This certainly is not an essential outing, but if you have a weakness for softly spoken instrumentals by talented musicians, this is worth a listen.

— winch (author of

 

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The Wedding Present (1989) Bizarro (LP) RCA 2173-1-R

The Wedding Present

Bizarro 

1989

RCA 2173-1-R

**** recommended


For this second set, guitarist/ vocalist David Gedge and his ever-changing line up go with a major label but continue with the three-chord rhythm-guitar rock, fast without losing the underground pop-rock rhythm, moving along like a commuter train, ringing like a warning bell by the tracks, looking back to England glory days of a decade earlier when some of the punks kept the energy while losing some (but not all) of the anger.

The set moves along like a roller coaster, mixing romance with bitterness, the safe with hints of scary, focusing on the fast but slowing down to pull you in, mostly fun but hints of menace to keep it interesting.  While it’s easy to hear influences, it’s even easier to hear how this likely influenced bands in the decades that followed.

— winch

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Dead Moon: Unknown Passage (LP) 1989

Dead Moon
Unknown Passage 
Tombstone T-25
1989
Rating:***** (Good Shit)
When the dust of the decades settle, Portland’s contribution to rock-and-roll will be limited to one or two people, but this outfit from Clackamas should live on forever as a reminder of what rock-and-roll is all about.  This album is from the late 80s, but they go back to Cole’s 60s roots for inspiration, delivering an acid-rock garage sound, stripped down rock ‘n roll, the core of it all exposed like a bare wire, crackling and smoking like a fuse, focused and furious, covering the twenty-year-old “Time Has Come Today” as if it was written for them, the other cuts Cole originals.

While Moon’s excellent debut was a hard act to follow, this second set is even better.
— winch
(author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s)

Treat Her Right: Tied to the Tracks (1989) LP

Treat Her Right 
Tied to the Tracks
RCA (9596)
1989
Rating: **** (Recommended)
While the band likely would have liked to have this come out a bit rawer, the music still sounds great with the major label production.  The first side is solid to the end, all originals except a cover of Beefheart’s “Hit A Man.”  The side closes with Sandman’s “No Reason” (which sounds especially haunting in retrospect, after Sandman’s fatal on-stage heart attack in 1999).  
Side two is filled with originals by various members of the band.  (After this second album, Sandman would form Morphine and this band would move to Rounder, a better fit for this outfit.)  
Another recommended set, none of that “I Got My Mojo Working” crap.  Instead this is a collection of slightly oddball but refreshingly honest white-boy blues.
— winch
(author of Kalamazoo: Growing Ups Sideways in the 1970s)