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Climax - 1972 Climax: Featuring Sonny Geraci

ARTIST: Climax
ALBUM: Climax Featuring Sonny Geraci
LABEL: Rocky Road Records
YEAR: 1972


LINEUP: Sonny Geraci - lead vocals * Walt Nims - guitar * Joe Osbourne, Steve LaFever, Reinie Press, Joe Bellamy - bass * Earl Palmer, Jon Guttman, John Raines - drums * Alan Estes, Larry Cox - percussion * John Stevenson, Larry Knechtal, Nick D'Amico - keyboards * Gordon MacKinnon - double reed, woodwinds * Tom Bahler, John Bahler, Jeanne Sheffield, Debby Clinger, John Stevenson, Ron Hickland, Nicki Cox, Jackie Ward, Sue Allen, Brooks Honeycutt - backing vocals * The Jack Shulman Strings * The Dave Roberts Hometown Horns

TRACK LISTING: 01 Life And Breath * 02 I've Got Everything * 03 Postlude * 04 Picnic In The Rain * 05 Face The Music * 06 Precious And Few * 07 It's Coming Today * 08 Rainbow Rides Are Free * 09 If It Feels Good - Do It * 10 Merlin * 11 Prelude * 12 Child Of December


Remember the '60s group The Outsiders and their fifteen minutes of fame with the tune 'Time Won't Let Me'? Still a popular tune on oldies radio, Climax formed out of the ashes of that band thanks to vocalist Sonny Geraci and guitarist Walt Nims in 1970. The duo, with the addition of new members - all unknowns, recorded two singles as The Outsiders, before a former member of the garage band threatened legal action. A quick name change to Climax and the band were well on their way, signing to the Bell Records subsidiary - Rocky Road Records. Why the album was called 'Climax featuring Sonny Geraci' is a mystery. I mean really, was this guy a 'star' and was this supposed to be a selling point? The back cover shows a typical '70s styled drawing from a photo of a five member band with a rainbow as a background (again - it was the '70s), but were they really a group? Years ago when I interviewed former East Of Eden/Vinegar Joe bassist Steve York, he told me he had spent some time in Climax and since the player list on the back of the album is so extensive, I wonder if Climax really was a one-man show/revolving door/studio project by the time this record and numerous post-non LP singles came out.

The Songs
It has to be said that Geraci was much better a pop singer than an out and out rocker and fortunately most of the material here was geared for AM radio play, including the opener 'Life And Breath' which was released as a follow-up single to 'Precious And Few' which we'll get to in a moment. 'Life And Breath' written by Warner Brothers staff writer George S. Clinton is a sweet tune and like much of the album relies on orchestration to get the job done succeeding admirably. Think The Association, The Grass Roots, Paper Lace and Gallery and you should have a good idea where producer Larry Cox (Jefferson Starship) was pulling inspiration from. 'I've Got Everything' is terrific as is 'Picnic In The Rain' which borrows a chord from The Turtles 'Never My Love' and works exceedingly well and that brings us to 'Precious And Few', one of the biggest and most memorable singles of the decade. I can't count how many hundreds of times I've heard this masterpiece of soft pop on the radio, but it remains as fresh and original as the day it was recorded. Available on dozens of '70s pop comps in the last 35-plus years, it fits like a glove with the rest of the album and comes in at the end of side one, so you know no one at label had any clue it was to become the records biggest hit, let alone a million selling single. Over to side two and we get the rockier side of Climax with 'It's Coming Today' which isn't that great truth be told and while the fey titled 'Rainbow Rides Are Free' veers a little too close to lounge music for my tastes, again it's the type of tune Geraci's voice was made for. Unfortunately what follows is two more rockers, the bluesy Faces inspired 'If It Feels Good - Do It' which was eventually covered by Stories believe it or not and the unbelievably terrible 'Merlin' which takes a stab at Uriah Heep influenced prog rock. It's hideous to say the least, although before the needle leaves the vinyl 'Child Of December' takes us back to the classic soft pop sound of Climax and all is right with the world.

In Summary
Following the enormous success of 'Precious And Few'; the group stuck around until 1976 and as mentioned earlier released a mountain of singles none of which made any substantial mark on the charts. Many of these have been documented on CD as 'The Best of Climax' which is now out of print, but rumored to be from vinyl rips and naturally a poor sound. Jumping over to Geraci's web site and it appears he's become 'Mr. Vegas' these days which is not a big surprise considering some of the material found on this album, although a much better option is popping over to YouTube and viewing Climax lip-synching to 'Precious And Few' dressed to the nines in bellbottoms and fringe. Great!

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#1 | gdazegod on January 12 2010 04:45:37
Sonny Geraci, for those that didn't know, is actually the real identity behind the 1983 album Peter Emmett Story. That was his pseudonym at the time.
#2 | Eric on January 12 2010 13:10:55
Wow! Didn't tie that together...
#3 | gdazegod on January 12 2010 13:26:18
I just landed the album Eric, then did a few Net inquiries, and there it was. I was just as astounded as you. Peter Emmett Story review in the wings.. very shortly..
#4 | thinkimfallin66 on April 20 2011 12:24:56
Great overview on the Climax album. Climax was actually intended to be a rock n' roll group, afterall the Outsiders were more rock n' roll than ballad based.

P-funkster George Clinton did not write Life and Breath which made the Top 10 at KHJ in Los Angeles as the follow up to Precious and Few. George S. Clinton who was a staff writer at Warner Brothers at the time and later went on to work as the music coordinator for all the Austin Powers films wrote Life and Breath. The song was also recorded by Johnny Mathis and Frankie Valli.

One other note, Climax first released Rock n' Roll Heaven and was written by their keyboard player Johnny Stevenson and later re-worked with Allan O'Day. The song later became the comeback vehicle for the Rightgeous Brothers.

There was a constant struggle going on between the label and artist. Marc Gordon at the time was managing the Fifth Dimension and the label failed to market product on-time and effectively. Producer Larry Cox wanted Sonny Geraci to do ballads, which was his strong point. Without harmony the group just did not click long-term but had the ability to turn out a string of hits. Precious and Few was actually first recorded in 1970 and layed on the shelve at Bell Records. Problem was Climax made many head changes by the time the record became a hit and had to change direction to support the heavy air play. Cox re-did the track and turned it in to the mega hit we hear today.

In retrospect, Precious and Few was the very best thing to happen to Sonny Geraci, although he kept resisting the right career path even after Precious was a hit. Geraci still works 100 dates per year, singing Time Won't Let Me and Precious and Few.Climax actually charted four top 5 singles in Hawaii and Precious and Few first broke their 6 months before it became a hit on the mainland.

Producer Larry Cox went on and produced many of the soft rock hits for Jefferson Starship including Miracles and the Red Octupus album. Larry Cox, a superb talent who learned his craft from the great Bones Howe, was a boyhood friend of Waylon Jennings and for a brief time was the drummer for Buddy Holly passed away in Littlefield, Texas in December 2009.
#5 | Eric on April 20 2011 13:49:55
Wonderful information. Hard to believe this sat on the shelf for two years, let alone the the superstar status in Hawaii! I have corrected the review based on the above. Many thanks for the update!

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