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Mose Jones - 1978 Blackbird

ARTIST: Mose Jones
ALBUM: Blackbird
YEAR: 1978


LINEUP: Chris Seymour - drums, percussion * Marvin Taylor - guitar, background vocals * Steve McRay - keyboards, lead & background vocals * Randy Lewis - bass, lead & background vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Do You Want Somebody * 02 Blackbird * 03 Ooh Baby * 04 Jump Back * 05 Something's Wrong * 06 Rub/In Memory Of Ole What's His Name * 07 Ain't No Time Like The Present


Atlanta based Mose Jones recorded a pair of albums in the early 70's that from what I've read were borderline country/southern rock efforts with a tendency towards pop. Huh? Need to get hold of those. Formed in 1972 and named after jazz pianist Mose Allison and a band member's family dog; the Joneses signed to Al Kooper's Sounds Of The South label but were over shadowed by label mates and friends Lynyrd Skynyrd. Parent company MCA knew they had a tiger by the tail with the boys from Jacksonville and were reluctant to shell out serious green to anyone else on Kooper's label which was bad news for the band who gigged tirelessly across highways and byways not only south of the Mason-Dixon but on a national level. Still it wasn't enough to keep the group together, closing down shop in 1976 out of both frustration and exhaustion with keyboardist Steve McRay finding a brief spot in British progressive jazz rockers IF before returning to Atlanta and reforming the band with bassist Randy Lewis.

The Songs
Signed to RCA, the resulting 'Blackbird' was the kind of record pasty-faced critics loved to hate; a Doobieish, Pablo Cruising blend of good time rock with a mild undercurrent of late in the game southernisms and never pretending to be anything else. 'Do You Want Somebody' sums up the bands approach with a harmless Sanford/Townsend, Neilsen Pearson Band, Faragher Brothers mid-rocking sound that was bound to please bikers and housewives alike, had they heard it of course. The title track, a cover of Sir Paul McCartney's civil rights influenced classic is an interesting choice with no let up on the soulish good vibes complimented by rollicking' bar room piano while recalling the James Walsh Gypsy Band album released the same year. Both Steve McRay (later of Ted Nugent, Atlanta Rhythm Section and 38. Special) and sidekick Randy Lewis share the lead vocal spotlight, but McRay's tenor is the stand-out on songs like the uplifting 'Ooh Baby' and the chunky mid-tempo Little Feat styled funk of 'Something's Wrong'. In the middle of it all a jazzy, talkbox instrumental called 'Rub/In Memory Of Ole What's His Name' is less imaginative than the title and feels like a poor excuse to fill-up the side before closing out with a garden variety blues rocker 'Ain't No Time Like The Present', the weakest track on what started out to be a decent record.

In Summary
Touring followed including a prime spot on 1978's 'Champagne Jam' in Atlanta sandwiched between Mother's Finest and Eddie Money with homecoming headliners Atlanta Rhythm Section. Speaking of ARS, the boys from Doraville recorded an unreleased Mose Jones track 'Alien' for their 1981 'Quinella' album. The song was a top 40 hit, but originally put to tape on the second Jones RCA record which is languishing in a dusty vault somewhere, just like the masters to 'Blackbird' which has never seen a CD reissue although the band have a self-released 1974 live performance available and sounding pretty good from the samples I've heard. All the more reason to track down those first two albums.

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