Friday, 16 February 2018

Ursa Major “Ursa Major” 1972 US Hard Rock


Ursa Major “Ursa Major” 1972 US Hard Rock
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Guitarist Dick Wagner, who would later play with Lou Reed, Alice Cooper and many others, started out as the leader of this early heavy-metal band. This 1972 RCA LP, long sought after by metal collectors, includes Sinner; Silverspoon; Lay Me Down; In My Darkest Hour , and more…..~


I wouldn’t classify this music as heavy metal, but an early hard rock masterpiece that could influence many future metal bands because it was way ahead of it’s time. Dick Wagner’s voice and guitar playing are incredible. I’m still surprised he didn’t spend more time behind a mic. The rhythm section is equally brilliant! Especially Greg Arama on bass- any bassist can learn a lot from the playing on this recording. I wouldn’t have gotten turned on to this band if it weren’t for Dick Wagner’s book “Not Only Women Bleed”. I am so glad I did! This was recorded when I was just an infant, but it is some of the coolest rock and roll I’ve ever heard!!!…by ..Liz…~


If ever an album could be called an “undiscovered gem ” this one would 
most certainly fit the bill.Powered by the awesome talents of singer/ 
songwriter/guitar player Dick Wagner this is a killer of a hardrock album 
which deserves a better place in the history of the genre.This is, quite 
simply, a power trio at it’s very best. I loaned my CD ( thank you Amazon, 
my vinyl copy wore out many years ago ) to one of my workmates (who is 
20 years younger than me, a talented guitarist in his own right & somewhat 
of an authority on all things hard rock ) & he was totally blown away. 
Not just by the quality of the songs & the musicianship on display but 
also by the fact that neither he, nor any of his friends,had ever heard 
of Ursa Major.You now have a whole new generation of converts here in 
New Zealand Mr Wagner. Wait till I loan him “Rock & Roll Animal” & he 
hears “Intro/Sweet Jane”.Sometimes being over 50 can be very satisfying….by. Brent Cain….~


This album is a good example of why Dick Wagner is on my top-ten list of all-time favorite guitarists. He proved he could jam with the first Frost album, and with this one, he brings out the riff monster. 
This is another album I bought at a garage sale in Turkey in the mid 80’s and only listened to it a couple of times. When I bought it, I had never heard of it, but saw his name on there and grabbed it. I was glad I did, though at the time, other priorities shelved it from regular play on my turntable. 
I finally burned it to CD and have been playing it in the car on the way to work. The music has grown on me with each listen. There are some great tracks, and it shows his flair for composing. 
There are no guitar pyrotechnics on here, and the lead isn’t as prevalent as the first Frost album, but the riffs and the way he plays are what make this such a great guitar album. Standout tracks are Lay Me Down and Darkest Hour. Silverspoon is a live track, from where, I don’t know, but it shows how they could rock before a live crowd. 
For a power trio, Ursa Major was a step above many of their contemporaries for complexity, style, and song quality. Too bad they never got past this one album (as far as I know). Highly recommended….by… Fred Rayworth…..~


Reissue of a US hardrock album, originally issued in 1972 on RCA. Leader Dick Wagner later played guitar with Alice Cooper, Lou Reed and Grand Funk Railroad…..~


Dick Wagner is an American guitar player, author, and songwriter best known for his work with Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, and Kiss. He also fronted his Michigan based bands The Frost and The Bossmen. In 1972, Wagner moved to New York and formed the group Ursa Major. The original lineup included Billy Joel on keyboards and Rick Mangone on drums. As Billy Joel had to leave the band for personal reasons, Wagner replaced him with former Amboy Dukes bass player Greg Arama. They released one seminal acclaimed self titled album as a power trio. The band toured regularly with Jeff Beck and Alice Cooper. Wagner, along with Steve Hunter as a guitar duo were featured on Lou Reed’s “Berlin” and as band leader and arranger, he arranged songs from Lou’s Velvet Underground days for the stage and appeared on “Rock and Roll Animal.” 
It was during Wagner’s days with the Frost that he first met Alice Cooper, Wagner had already appeared on Cooper’s “Schools Out” album, and pretty much played all the lead guitar and solos on the earlier Alice Cooper records. Sometimes uncredited. After the break up of the original Alice Cooper Group, Wagner beacme Alice’s lead guitar player, song writer, and band arranger. (in fact you can hear music from “Wish you were Here” off the “Goes to Hell” album on this release). Wagner co-wrote and played lead on the Alice Cooper albums “Welcome to My Nightmare”, “Goes to Hell”, “The Alice Cooper Show”, “Lace and Whiskey”, From the Inside, “Zipper Catches Skin”, and DADA among others. 

Wagner played on Kiss’ “Destroyer”, Aerosmith’s “Get you Wings” as well as albums by Hall & Oats, Nills Lofgren, Peter Gabriel, Air Supply, Tina Turner, Guns & Roses, Lita Ford, Tim Curry, Mark Farner, and even appeared on the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” soundtrack. 
One Hell of a guitar player and nothing proves it more than this album. 
On July 30, 2014 Wagner died of respiratory failure…..~


Credits 
Bass, Vocals – Greg Arama 
Guitar, Lead Vocals – Dick Wagner 
Percussion, Vocals – Ricky Mangone

Tracklist 
A1 Sinner 7:29 
A2 In My Darkest Hour 5:26 
A3 Silverspoon 6:14 
B1 Stage Door Queen 5:26 
B2 Back To The Land 6:47 
B3 Lay Me Down 4:35 
B4 Liberty And Justice 5:51 

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