Brethren “Brethren” 1971- (feat Dr. John)
I’ve looked for this album, in CD format, for years and finally found one. The cover photo is from the second Brethren album, however, not the first. The fist album cover was much more dramatic, evocative and somewhat moody. It didn’t leave you feeling like you were about to hear California influenced, Hippie era, country and western such as New Riders of the Purple Sage. The lyrics and liner notes are not entirely accurate, perhaps because the re-release was produced by a Korean label. The band on the first album was a trio. Brethren didn’t become a quartet until the second album despite what is stated in the liner notes. The music is southern rock with heavy gospel influences. My friends and I referred to it as “Swamp Rock”. It was more in the gospel vein than the blues and R&B influenced rock of bands like Wet Willie or The Allman Brothers. Brethren sounds a bit like Creedence Clearwater Revival (their bass player was originally the bassist from Creedence). It’s interesting to note that Brethren was a New York based band not a Southern band despite what one might guess. This music isn’t for everybody (it might help if you are as old as I am) but, I’m sure happy to be able to hear it without the surface noise of a 40+ year old vinyl recording. Now if someone would just get around to re-releasing Calico volumes 1 & 2 in CD format….by… F. Clef….~
Brethren was a band that came and went fairly quickly in the rock and roll scheme of things. I saw them a multitude of times at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY, where they opened up for many headliners. I was obssessed with them from the moment I heard them. I purchased their only two lp’s and wore out the first lp twice. I’ve been looking for the cd for years and was happy to see that someone put it out. The quality is fair however, as the remastering could have used some more care. However, their songs are truly great and they grow on you with every listen. It was awesome to have their material on a cd, so I wouldn’t wear out the only lp I have left of them. I highly recommend the cd purely on the strength of the songs. This band should have been a much bigger deal. It’s a shame that so many talented bands fall under the radar, but they can’t all be famous….by…. K. Friedson…~
Brethren is (was) a short-lived and little known act from New York , which claim for fame and glory is a close tie to Dr.John (who played keyboards on the self-titled debut album - released on Tiffany in 1970 - and even wrote the liner notes: “… this music is city music and country blues, with some Pentecostal church threw in…”). In 1970 they’ve also appeared on Boston Tea Party concerts sharing the bill with “Poco” in June and “Mountain” in November.
The band was: Tom Cosgrove (guitar, vocals & and percussion), Mike Garson (keyboards, composer), Rick Marotta (drums) and Stu Woods (bass, clavinet, vocals). Next to Dr John, Rusty Young of “Poco” played steel pedal.
The photo for the cover (showing the band next to the barn) was taken by Murray Head; and alternative version by Stanley Lewis Moss with a gothic cathedral exists.
The band is often described as blue-eyed (or white boy) soul, sometimes sounding funky and with an influence of country. I would say (this is strictly my personal opinion) that “Brethren” somehow reminds (very distantly) Grand Funk Railroad, but less powerful, lightweight, melodic and without self-destructive aggression. They were highly skilled professional musicians, but something is missing - the embers molder, but there is no fire…
The best tracks are “Midnight Train” and lengthy instrumental “Success Brand Oil”, featuring virtuoso guitar solo interplaying with organ and, of course, “Provided For” (with the backing by The Blossoms).
“Brethren” released only two albums before splitting and becoming session musicians - self-titled in 1970 and “Moment of Truth” in 1971 (the latter featuring original tracks and an interesting lengthy version of Dr John’s “Loop Garoo”).
A good and pleasant album, well played, but not a must - unless you are a die-hard addict of the era…by…Golovanov Alexey…~
The debut album of a New York band that played West Coast-oriented rock. The drummer of the band Rick Marotta collaborated as a studio musician with John Lennon, Paul Simon, Aretha Franklin and many others. And keyboard player Mike Garson later played alongside David Bowie, Trent Rezner and “Smashing Pumpkins”….~
Backing Vocals – The Blossoms
Bass, Vocals – Stu Woods
Drums – Rick Marotta
Guitar, Lead Vocals – Tom Cosgrove
Keyboards, Liner Notes – Dr. John
Piano, Organ – Mike Garson
Steel Guitar [Steel Pedal] – Rusty Young
Written-By – Marotta* (tracks: A1, A4, B3), Woods* (tracks: A1, A3, A4, B3), Cosgrove* (tracks: A1, A3 to B4)
A1 Midnight Train 2:55
A2 Don’t Talk Now 3:55
A3 Mississippi Freighter 3:55
A4 Success Brand Oil 4:50
B1 Hitchin’ To Memphis 2:43
B2 Everybody In The Congregation 3:55
B3 I’ve Been Provided For 3:10
B4 Outside Love 3:06
B5 Just To Be There 3:02