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Burning Tree - 1990 Burning Tree

ARTIST: Burning Tree
ALBUM: Burning Tree
YEAR: 1990
CD REISSUE: 2010, Rock Candy Records (UK), CANDY086
SPONSOR: Rock Candy Records


LINEUP: Marc Ford - guitar, piano, vocals * Mark Dutton - bass, piano, vocals * Doni Gray - drums, percussion, vocals

Guests: Booker T Jones - hammond B3 organ * Kirsten Jones, Tim Palmer - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Burning Tree * 02 Wigs, Blues and High Heeled Shoes * 03 Fly On * 04 Mistreated Lover * 05 Masquerade * 06 Playing In The Wind * 07 Last Laugh * 08 Crush * 09 Same Old Story * 10 Bakers Song * 11 Baby Blue * 12 Turtle * 13 Burning Tree (Live [bonus] * 14 Fly On (Live) [bonus] * 15 Mistreated Lover (Live) [bonus] * 16 Same Old Story (Live) [bonus]


Recently reissued by Rock Candy Records, Los Angeles based retro rockers Burning Tree may have seemed like an oddity in the strange world that was the L.A Music scene during the hair metal era of the late 80's and early 90's. Honestly, it was hard to know what was 'flavour of the week' when cruising the Strip, with so many bands competing against each other. One thing is for sure, the guys in Burning Tree had a particular disdain for hair metal, and so it proved as the band were never part of the Whiskey/Gazzari's scene. Instead, this trio kept to different climes, and perfected their Hendrix/Led Zep meets Cream/Mountain influenced sound. On occasion, the band dip into southern rock trends as well, Ford's lead guitar touching on Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Johnson in places. Time displaced though Burning Tree might have been, there were some interested parties coming to check them out, obviously not completely sold on the hair metal scene going on around them, and wanting to check out bands that went against the grain. A&M Records were one of those, so too Epic Records, who the band eventually signed with.

The Songs
Listening to this album is like taking a trip back in time. It may have been released and recorded during the 1989/1990 period, but it has all the hallmarks of an early 70's southern rock album. I remember listening to albums such as White Witch, Tin House and thinking that Burning Tree could've been shakers and movers had they existed in an earlier timeframe - say 1970 to 1974. The title track 'Burning Tree' contains all the attributes of yesteryear acts, fuzzy guitar work, stinging solos and echoed vocals. The entertaining title of 'Wigs, Blues And High Heeled Shoes' borrows some licks from SRV and could well be a Texan blues classic. 'Fly On' was one of the songs being pushed by the label at the time of the album's release, and one can hear this song had great potential. Ford's guitar work astounds, full of wah and fuzz. 'Mistreated Lover' is lighter fare, with a dash of hammond organ filling out the sound, a cool song, I like the solo on this one too. 'Masquerade' moves in a heavier direction, it has a Led Zep sort of guitar rhythm (think 'Immigrant Song') but changes points on the compass quite a bit. The solo is an exercise in moving targets, using Jeff Beck as a guide. 'Playing In The Wind' sees Burning Tree mixing melancholy and intensity for a smouldering 70's based rocker. 'Last Laugh' is a hard driving track with a stuttered drum back beat, heavy on hi-hat and crash-ride which gives it plenty of energy. The same could be said for the fiery 'Same Old Story'. When the band slows down to catch its breath, it unfolds nicely, as evidenced on the commercial 'Crush', or the gorgeous acoustic flow of 'Bakers Song' for that matter. The last two songs on the original album include 'Baby Blue' and the strangely titled 'Turtle', for which the lyrics make the song to be something about an outrageous funky dance move! The Rock Candy reissue includes five additional live tracks recorded at The Marquee in London during April 1990. Here, you get to listen to Burning Tree in their natural environment, tearing up the stage with their brand of rockin' blues.

In Summary
The band found some friends in the UK and Europe, and even went over there to play gigs with The Quireboys and Dogs D'Amour, but back home Stateside the news was not so good, as the album was not doing anything on the commercial front. Epic in their naivety were looking for a number one single from Burning Tree, which was like handing the band a miracle pill and asking them to make things happen - which it didn't of course. Band and label went their separate ways, Dutton departed the band, while Ford got the opportunity of a lifetime to join The Black Crowes, who then went on to sell millions. There is justice after all, but it does come in a roundabout way, so it seems. Many years later in 2006, Burning Tree tempted fate once more and hooked up for a reunion with the three members back onboard. But during a series of reunion gigs, drummer Doni Gray was forced to quit due to a neck injury, which put Burning Tree's ambitions on hold, permanently.

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#1 | sabace on December 03 2010 13:42:01
I have the original cd so I can't comment on remastering . The original sound was grand and a mighty impressive lp this, the reviewer is spot on!
they should have been huge! .
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