Jan 23, 2009
LESLIE WEST - MOUNTAIN (WINDFALL 1969) Japan DSD mastering cardboard sleeve
Fresh from the split-up of Cream, whom he produced Felix Pappalardi spotted Leslie West fronting a legendary garage band the Vagrants, and thought to cut a solo album on him. With Pappalardi joining in the fun on bass and keyboards, this was the result. And a damn good one.
As a guitarist, West's calling card was chunky power chords, smooth distorted riffing, and precise, lyrical solos (he was never a speed merchant but he didn't have to be); as a singer, his rasping yelp was immediately recognizable and - as "Blind Man" and (especially) "Southbound Train" revealed - he was a passable blues singer as well. The heavy riff style and Pappalardi's presence (never mind his bass style) got only too obvious a round of comparisons to Cream, but West's first solo album stood up in its own right - maybe not a genre giant, but not exactly a pretender, either.
He unfurled about the best cover of "This Wheel's On Fire" outside the Dylan/Band axis of them all; "Blood of the Sun" and "Dreams of Milk and Honey" still acquit themselves very well as riff-and-rollers. Of course, in early 1969, who knew he had anything as transcendent as "Mississippi Queen" in his immediate future? For its own time and place, this was a surprising - and pleasing - solo debut. West, Pappalardi, and drummer N.D. Smart added organist Steve Knight, dubbed the band the same name as the album, went to Woodstock, and became stars...[net]