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3 May 2017

Gas Mask "Their First Album" 1970 US Prog Jazz Rock

Gas Mask  "Their First Album" 1970 US Prog Jazz Rock

The producer should get everyone’s attention: Teo Macero (Miles Davis). As will the trumpet player for many: Enrico Rava. Big names for a completely unknown album. There are some monster tracks on here like ‘The I Ching Thing’ (a flute driven instrumental masterpiece) and 'Immigration Song’ (another incredible instrumental with organ, trumpet, guitar, sax). A must for those who like horn rock, not quite up to the level or as progressive as Brainchild or the first Chicago, but better than most in the brass rock genre. Ugly album cover could use a makeover……..ashratom ………
So what’s the story with this New York-based octet? Plain and simple, they apparently felt they were Blood, Sweat and Tears … 

Signed to the small New York Tonsil label, the band’s 1970 debut “Their First Album” teamed them with producer Teo Macero. Musically the comparison with BS&T simply couldn’t be missed. Backed by a BS&T-styled horn section (Richard Grando, David Gross and Enrico Raja), singer Bobby Osborne’s growl came off as a David Clayton-Thomas wannabe. That wasn’t to imply the man was without chops, rather he simply didn’t have a great deal of originality to show on the eight non-instrumentals. With Olivia responsible for the majority of the material (Gross contributing two selections), tracks such as 'If You Just Think of Me’, 'Light the Road’ and 'Just Like That’ weren’t bad (particularly if you liked early BS&T). They were certainly better than a horn band like Chase, or Chicago when they started selling their collective souls for top-40 success, but why bother with a wannabe band when the original was readily available? 

- 'If You Just Think of Me’ started out with a nice, funky bass line and was even acceptable when the horns kicked in, but when Osborne’s vocals kicked in it lost direction and just started to implode, bouncing aimlessly across genres, including ballad, jazz-rock, and funk genres. Yeap, this was one big mess … rating: ** stars 
- Propelled by James Strassburg’s frenetic drums, 'Light the Road’ was a hyper-speed rocker that could have been quite good were it not for the busy horn arrangement. rating: ** stars 
- One of two tracks penned by sax player Gross, the instrumental 'The Immigrant’ was one of the set’s more jazz-oriented numbers. Not a big surprise, the set focused on Gross sax with the track sounding a bit like something Maynard Ferguson might have released in the mid-1970s. rating: ** stars 
- 'Just Like That’ was another track that bore an uncanny resemblance to BS&T. The ballad had an okay melody, but was a bit on the MOR side; certainly nothing particularly exciting. rating: ** stars 
- 'Thank You My Dear’ was the album’s most straightforward and commercial offering. Even with the horns, this one had some commercial potential, though the mid-section horn solos could have been dropped without any loss. rating: ** stars 
- With one of the most conventional rock arrangements on the set (complete with some nice Bill Davidson fuzz guitar), 'I’ll Go Blind’ stood as one of my favorite performance. rating: *** stars 
- Ah, time to get ethnic … The second Gross composition, 'The I Ching Thing’ started out with some experimental, oriental flavored meanderings before moving into a breezy pop-tinged flute segment. rating: ** stars 
- 'Watch Myself Grow Tall’ signaled it was time for a 'big’ ballad. I’ll give the credit and admit this one wasn’t half bad with some commercial potential. rating: *** stars 
- With a herky-jerky song structure and a hyperactive bass line, 'Nothing To Do Today’ was actually mildly interesting. rating: ** stars 
- Powered by Davidson lead guitar and a horn arrangement that actually improved the song, 'Young Man’ returned to a more commercial orientation and could have provided the band with some radio play. 

Sales proved non-existent; certainly not helped by a dumb name and one of the year’s ugliest album covers and as far as I know this is their entire discography…by……RDTEN1 ………
The review below is a little harsh David Clayton Thomas was not the only man with a deep gruff baritone voice. Bobby Osborne the lead singer for Gas Mask sings very well and its true this album is heavy horn rock like Chicago but it does have some good tunes. If You Just Think Of Me, I’ll Go Blind, Thank You My Dear, Just Like that and Watch Myself Grow Tall are the albums strongest cuts. There were a lot of Horn Bands that started popping up around 1970. Gas Mask i believe is from New York they were signed to a New York label called Tonsil Records. My only Complaint about this album is whoever mixed and engineered it must have been under the influence it suffers from lots of background noise. If you can get past that its a nice listen this album has yet to be reissued on cd…………….ByRocky G…………….

Bass – Ray Brooks (3) 
Composed By – David Gross (2) (tracks: A3, B2), Nick Olivia (tracks: A1, A2, A4 to B1, B3 to B5) 
Drums – James Strassburg 
Guitar [Lead] – Bill Davidson (4) 
Keyboards – Nick Olivia 
Producer – Teo Macero 
Reeds – Richard Grando 
Saxophone – David Gross (2) 
Trumpet – Enrico Rava 
Vocals – Bobby Osborne (2)

A1 If You Just Think Of Me 4:14 
A2 Light The Road 2:42 
A3 The Immigrant 5:34 
A4 Just Like That 4:35 
A5 Thank You My Dear 3:35 
B1 I’ll Go Blind 4:43 
B2 The I Ching Thing 5:31 
B3 Watch Myself Grow Tall 3:21 
B4 Nothing To Do Today 3:15 
B5 Young Man 4:02 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..