Natural Resources (Motown) NR105L
Produced by Tom Wilson and Road
Featuring Noel Redding (Jimi Hendrix Experience) on bass, Rod Richards (Rare Earth) on guitars, and Les Sampson on drums, this sole album by this Detroit/UK outfit clearly comes out of the 1960s power-trio acid-rock tradition established with the Hendrix Experience. This trio had the talent, power and energy to deliver the goods. Unfortunately, they appeared to have a lack of material.
And considering the era and the lyrics, they were perhaps too stoned to notice, or too stoned to care.
The set starts off promising enough with a Richards-penned number called “I’m Trying” that seems to come out of the Allman Brothers as much as Hendrix, but if one didn’t notice the void in the lyric department with the opener, it’s hard to miss with the second cut, a Redding-penned number about “Going to the Country.” (Of course, maybe that was the point: rock is about raw energy rather than clever comments.)
By the time you get deep into “Side 49” (aka side one) the Hendrix influence comes through loud and clear as a cranked Marshall amp, and Hendrix remains the primary influence as the band jams throughout “Side 17 1/3” (aka the second side). While it sounds like they were a bit lost in a drug-induced haze, the Sampson/Redding engine provides plenty of power, and Richards does a pretty convincing Hendrix impersonation.
With the opener of side two, Richard’s “Spaceship Earth,” the Detroit influence can also be felt, both hints of the energy of bands like MC5 and the muscle of Norman Whitfield of Motown fame, and while this was co-produced with the legendary black-American producer Tom Wilson (one of the greatest producers of all time), one can’t help wonder what would have happened if this band would’ve hooked up with Whitfield. As it sits, it’s a noteworthy chapter in the story of Rod Richards and the beginning of the team of Noel Redding/Leslie Sampson–a team that would record several albums together.
This also serves as an inferior companion set to the “Kapt. Kopter & The Fabulous Twirly Birds” which was released this same year, featured both Redding and Les Sampson (aka Clit McTorius and Henry Manchovitz) and applied the loud raw energy to songs by other artists (Simon and Garfunkle’s “Mother and Child Reunion” for example).
While some of the excesses on this sole album by Road are a bit much–such as the drum solo on Redding’s “Friends”–excess was an integral part of 1972 and we’ve heard a lot worse from this era of excess, and arguably the nine+ minute title track by Richards is a relatively strong conclusion to a fairly unremarkable album. In its own way, it’s fairly consistent: the better cuts ain’t that great, but the weaker cuts ain’t that bad. While this isn’t essential listening, fans of acid rock, hard rock, the power trio, and what would decades later be called stoner rock will likely find something to enjoy with the acid-rock jams of this set.
— winch (author of