Saturday, December 15, 2012

Album Review #1 - American Flyer

Throughout the course of the 1970's, LP's featured a diverse selection of musical choices, country rock, folk, disco, blues, classic rock, and other sorts of genres. Buried in the middle of the 70s was American Flyer. A folk rock supergroup featuring: Craig Fuller, formally of Pure Prairie League as well as Eric Kaz, songwriting master. It also featured Steve Katz formally of Blood, Sweat, & Tears with Doug Yule, of Velvet Underground. Don't remember Doug or Steve? None of us do... Don't even get me started on the Velvet Underground album "Squeeze"...

The album opens up with a soft but haunting piano piece on "Light of Your Love". Craig's powerhouse vocals to Eric's writings are to die for and give the album all it was asking for. The following track is once again Craig singing to Eric's writings to the song "Such A Beautiful Feeling". The song features a very upbeat feeling, but it feels lacking in the instruments. The Bearsville version Eric recorded in 1974 was very much superior in the instrument department. The Bearsville version can be found on "1000 Years Of Sorrow". The next track is "Back In 57", performed and written by Steve Katz. It's a typical folksy rock song, nothing special. Then Doug Yule comes in for track 4 and sings "Lady Blue Eyes", and every time I hear this record I wonder what American Flyer was thinking when they brought Doug aboard. Had they done research on Doug, they would have found Doug's project with Velvet Underground, (More of Doug, he was the only member...) was an album called "Squeeze". It received horrendous ratings and destroyed Velvet Underground. The next track, track 5, "Let Me Down Easy" was the peak of the album. It was a hit single and charted fairly high on Billboard at #80. Track 6 once again features Steve Katz in a typical folk rock song singing "M". Katz is a intermediate singer, lower than Craig's talent in vocals but sparks are defiantly visible. Tracks 7 (The Woman In Your Heart) and 8 (Love Has No Pride) are my least favorite of Craig's on the album. Love Has No Pride is a phenomenal song by Eric, but is more in suit for the female voice (as priorly demonstrated by Bonnie Raitt). Track 9, "Queen Of All My Days" is also by our favorite member Doug. Surprisingly, it was used as the flip side to the single of "Let Me Down Easy". Track 10, "Drive Away" is the one and only song on the album by Eric. George Martin (Producer of the album, and also producer of every "Beatle's" album, was curious to have every band member sing on the album). The track is a low for Eric. He was capable of much more, but overall it's an okay track. Track 11 helps close the album as Craig sings his final tune for the album with "Call Me, Tell Me". The strings are very nicely arranged but feel a little out of tune at the end of the song. The album finishes with a haunting string and piano piece called "End of a love Song" by George Martin and Eric Kaz.

Overall, the album was great, but there were obvious things that brought in down. Doug's poor sense of lyrics and singing, Eric's poor song choosing for his track, etc. The album did manage to find it's way nicely into the charts however, as opposed to a later but much superior album by Craig Fuller and Eric Kaz which didn't even scratch the surface of the charts. American Flyer probably did better do to a much larger advertising campaign, something neither Craig nor Eric ever really dabbled in, which is a shame as they are both great at what they do, which will be proven heavily 2 years later on their duo project entitled "Craig Fuller Eric Kaz". American Flyer was a strong album at parts, but weak at others, and a chain is only as strong as its weakest links. I give "American Flyer" a 7.5 / 10

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