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Natural Gas - 1976 Natural Gas

ARTIST: Natural Gas
ALBUM: Natural Gas
LABEL: Private Stock
YEAR: 1976
CD REISSUE: 2009, Renaissance (USA), RMED-0173, bonus tracks, remastered


LINEUP: Jerry Shirley - drums * Joey Molland - guitars, vocals * Mark Clarke - bass, vocals * Peter Wood - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Little Darlin' * 02 Once Again, A Love Song * 03 You Can Do It * 04 I've Been Waitin' * 05 I Believe It's Love * 06 The Right Time * 07 Christmas Song * 08 Miracle Mile * 09 Dark Cloud * 10 St Louis Blues

A veritable 'supergroup' long before the term was popularized; Natural Gas featured Joey Molland from Badfinger, drummer Jerry Shirley of Humble Pie, Mark Clarke, formerly of Uriah Heep and ex- Sutherland Brothers & Quiver keyboardist Peter Wood. An impressive line-up indeed, capped off with the involvement of one-time Cream producer and ex-Mountain bass player Felix Pappalardi handling production chores for what would be the band's only album. It seemed Natural Gas had everything going for them with major funding, strong management and solid booking that found the band touring the US with Kansas, Peter Frampton, Black Oak Arkansas and others, but problems set in when what seemed to be a good label - Private Stock, had problems getting the LP into stores due to a manufacturing error. Because of this, the album never charted, leaving the band understandably bitter towards the label, while personality conflicts started taking their toll forcing Joey Molland to leave the band. Jerry Shirley and company would pick up where they left off calling themselves Magnet and releasing one album on A&M called 'World Attraction' in 1979.

The Songs
From a production standpoint this is one of the worst albums I have ever heard. The band was not allowed at the final mix for whatever reason and it was rumored producer Pappalardi was suffering from extensive hearing loss. That alone should have been a warning sign, because this is a sonic mess. Vocals and keyboards are buried with way too much echo in spots and lacking any punch. This is unfortunate, because the material is superb as to be expected with musicians of this pedigree. Similar to Badfinger, the music is a mixture of straight rock on the opening 'Little Darlin' and beautiful ballads, in particular the Molland penned 'Once Again, A Love Song' to the catchy pop of 'You Can Do it' and 'The Right Time'. The entire album flows quite nicely with not a weak spot to be found on any of the ten tracks.

In Summary
The original album came in a black gatefold sleeve with a cool silver foil embossed logo, and has never officially been released on CD, although there is a nice bootleg floating around of this record that includes some rehearsal material. Still, I hope we do see a proper reissue soon. A remaster might improve the horrible sound, for what I think is easily one of the best 'one-off' albums of the 1970's.

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#1 | gdazegod on November 15 2009 11:20:10
Well, Renaissance have done the honours for a 2009 remaster.
#2 | Eric on November 15 2009 13:27:39
With horrible cover art. Can hardly see the logo. The sound is ok though, so again hit and miss with the label.
#3 | super80boy on December 25 2013 15:07:54
Satisfying mid 70's radio AOR rock fare from start to finish by well heeled musicians. Some standouts are the more upbeat melodies of 'You Can Do It', 'The Right Time' and 'St. Louis Blues'. Shame they couldn't get the record label to put in the investment to really give this the right production and distribution it deserved.

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