Montrose

ARTICLE ABOUT Montrose FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, March 6, 1976

I was originally thinking of transcribing the really long article with David Bowie in this issue, but then I found it on a Bowie site, and what`s the fun if someone already did it?
So, instead of that one, I give you a record review in this and the next post. I don`t always do them, but they are great because they are relatively short and it is quite amusing to find out what the reviewers thought when the albums first were released. So, here we go with number one…

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MONTROSE: Warner Bros. Presents Montrose
(Warner Bros.)

By John Tobler

Titles like the one on this record make the title lines on a review look silly. Are they trying to get back at us for something? Anyway, this is Montrose`s third album, tidily conforming to the one album a year syndrome, and thus presumably indicating that their records sell respectable but average quantities.
Exactly what you`d expect from a middle of the table second division band who can effortlessly maintain their position without ever improving on it.
At one point, I had very high hopes for this band – their leader had played on two of my favourite records, “Tupelo Honey” and “St. Dominic`s Preview”, both by Van Morrison, as well as Edgar Winter`s “Frankenstein” thing, and original bass player Bill Church had also been with Van Morrison. A sound basis of good taste, I presumed. Then their records appeared, and it was obvious that the Winter direction had been taken, and while that`s their privilege, the heavier side of things is a much more competitive battleground than the Morrison/Scaggs area, where there never seem to be enough records to acquire.

After the first album, Bill Church left, after the second, vocalist Sam Galpin did likewise, and now Montrose and drummer Denny Carmassi are the only originals, with Bob James on vocals, Alan Fitzgerald on bass, and the addition of keyboard man Jim Alcivar. Seemingly, their intention was to write most of the album in the studio, as the first side predominantly credits all five as writers. Within the bounds that such an arrangement produces, it comes off reasonably well, with the exception of an express train version of “Twenty Flight Rock” as in Eddie Cochran, which merits kinder treatment.
The second side is considerably inferior to these ears. “Dancin` Feet” boasts a riff that I will be pleased never to hear again, and three of the other tracks, including “O Lucky Man”, the Alan Price film theme, are just ordinary. The exception is “One And A Half”, a solo by Ronnie Montrose which displays some of that subtlety I had hoped would be there in rather more force. Elsewhere, both he and Alcivar play better than competently, but there comes a point where, unless one is listening to Led Zeppelin, enough is enough of this sort of music. The production, by Montrose himself, doesn`t help much either, with a generally muddy feel and with the vocals mixed too far back for my liking. I suspect that this outing will produce no new converts.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may  not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: David Bowie, The sexual language of rock Part 2, Phil Spector, General Johnson, Climax Blues Band, Gil Scott-Heron, Slik.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Montrose FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, February 15, 1975

This article was in print in the same month that Lead Vocalist Sammy Hagar quit the band. There is no mention of it in the article, so I guess this happened right after this interview. Hagar, a very capable guitarist himself, never got the chance to play guitar on the two albums that he did for Montrose.
Naming the band after himself, Ronnie Montrose was a very talented guitarist who sadly took his own life on March 3, 2012 after a long battle with clinical depression. He left behind a great musical contribution to the world and for those who never heard any music from Montrose, please check out the self-titled “Montrose” album. It is an absolute classic with great songs like “Bad Motor Scooter”, “Rock Candy” and “Space Station No. 5.”

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The star will talk when he`s cleaned his teeth

Montrose rapping with the ring of confidence

By Max Bell

Ronnie Montrose hates doing interviews. When I arrive at Warner`s hideout I`m apologetically informed that Ronnie is too shattered to talk after driving down from Manchester in the early hours. But as if to accentuate the melodrama…”Yes he will speak after he`s cleaned his teeth.”
Meanwhile assorted Californian press-office ladies engage me in idle chit-chat. “Oh I love your countryside, it`s so green. And imagine, we saw a castle, a real live castle, I was so thrilled. And what is it with cabbage? All the English seem to be eating cabbage.
Still, it`s the prerogative of Americans in Europe to act the archetypal ingenues, manifesting wondrous significance and surprise in trivia. And anyway, they did invent the frisbee.
In the end Ronnie turns out not to project the super hero, primadonna image at all. He`s quiet and affable with a tendency to lapse into moments of laconic humour. At the moment there`s a classical guitar tape running while a model 1932 Alfa Romeo lies in semi-completion by the bedside.

If you`ve heard the recent Montrose efforts (frantic heavy rock), it wasn`t always like that. Ronnie first made a name playing sessions, and had either the fortune or sheer taste to take part in a number of the early 70`s most worthwhile ventures.
One of his first outings was on Beaver and Krause`s “Gandharva”, an album of staggering atmosphere and beauty. “Yeah, I really loved that album, especially the second side recorded in Grace Cathedral where you have fabulous natural decay and echo. When I heard it I was disappointed, not with the music but because the three tracks I laid down parts for got submerged; it`s mostly Mike Bloomfield on lead there.”
Nevertheless, an auspicious beginning – followed by a place in the Van Morrison band, both in a touring capacity and as contributor to “Tupelo Honey”.
“With Van I played quieter, arranged parts.”
Maybe I`m wrong but Ronnie`s reluctance to elaborate suggested a certain character incompatability with Morrison.
“He`s strange. I got on as well as can be expected with an introvert. When I`m with people like that I get very extrovert.”
Anyway 1972 found Montrose in Boz Scaggs` touring set up and he hadn`t made a wrong move yet. “Boz needed a concert man and I liked his music. It seems a long while ago now but I`m glad I got to do it, although, as with Van, I had to lay out a little, fill in where it was necessary.”
Playing with Scaggs brought Ronnie into contact with some of Muscle Shoals premier session men, like David Hood and Roger Hawkins.

Montrose is a fine example of the Motor Pool system in San Francisco`s Bay Area where a musician who wins a reputation subsequently gets to contribute to various projects. There`s rarely a commitment involved and artists drift around playing when and where they`re asked.
Having been a relaxed player for some time, he decided to make the move to hard-rock with Edgar Winter, performing before packed houses and pulling in mucho dollars. But that flirtation was brief too. “There wasn`t enough room to do what I wanted; it got uncomfortable. After I left Edgar, Mott the Hoople invited me to join but I would never do that. I have to express myself in my own band.”
Despite all his contacts, Ronnie swears he went through hell forming Montrose.
“It`s impossible to put a thing together now. Britain`s O.K., because it`s so isolated, but America…man, you can`t believe the problems involved in touring there. Doesn`t matter who you are, you`ve got to start off as an opening act – and that`s hard. In the words of Bill Graham, there`s people thinking `Maybe I should take a piss or get a coke`. That`s why we go out and blast them, so they remember us. The first album was `wham` too but we`re expressing ourselves more now. I`m not just into playing heavy.”

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Last time over Montrose scored a resounding `live` success as support band to Status Quo, and Ronnie is just coming to terms with the different kind of audience encountered in Britain. “You don`t get the energy exchange that you have in America. I`ve found that here they listen and show appreciation after you finish instead of feedback coming over all the time.
“Actually Scotland was different. In Glasgow we got raped in a lift by a chambermaid.”
Usually, however, Ronnie doesn`t indulge in such customary postgig frolics, preferring the solitude of his room. “I get bored easy. That`s why I made models. A package tour like this can have its disadvantages. (Demonstrates a fairly passable impersonation of an English porter in militaristic mood.) `You will get up at 9 a.m., guv`nor, and bring your baggage to the door.`
“On the other hand you don`t pay for anything, and you get separate salary, expenses, meals, everything.”
Both Montrose albums have benefitted from the guiding hand of producer Ted Templeman, but Ronnie is determined to assist in proceedings, “He likes it real safe and clean. I go to the other extreme so we counterbalance each other.”
Those familiar with his earlier playing must have been a trifle taken aback witnessing the volte face involved in the Montrose band, which has resulted in him becoming cast in the `another good flash guitarist` mould. If that is true then he alone is responsible; the next album will tell exactly how much he`s forsaken the mellow tag – which could conceivably have been a hindrance as well.

I asked him if the proliferation of heavy metal, most of it dull and uninspired didn`t impose its own restrictions.
“It`s gone to the furthest point. It can`t get any louder. But then it`s taken ten years to arrive at this peak. I think it`ll get more interesting. I don`t really like what Todd Rundgren`s doing, but at least he`s taking a chance. We`re progressing now we have the support to do that. The early material was nervous energy…our recent things have a vivid intensity. I concentrate on that energy.”
Despite a blasting wall of sound they remain a three-piece and many of the songs are presented without the rhythm layers present on record. “That can be heartbreaking. Unless you`re someone like Cream, where the bass and drums put on an incredible front, it`s so frustrating.”
“I really do want another guitarist but I just can`t find a suitable one. Free had the same problem. I loved that band but `live` they were boring.
Long term adherence to a set format is becoming increasingly rare in rock bands and Montrose are no exception. They`ve already lost bassist Bill Church between albums and the lynch pin doesn`t envisage this as an end in itself.

“If I ever get into a different context, and I will, I`ll do something more intricate, use two or three instruments. I still intend to make a solo guitar record with lots of styles – not just rock. I don`t see there being solidly established bands again. We`re in a third generation now and everyone has their own cross to bear, musically speaking.
“You have so many localised groups doing something that the only way you`ll break out is to be bizarre like Bowie. I`m not being fatalistic. am I?”

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Led Zeppelin, Pete Kleinow, Caravan, Paul Kossoff (Free), Peter Hammill, Blue Öyster Cult, Alice Cooper, Lenny Bruce, Eric Clapton, Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller,  Millie Jackson, Richard Digance, Bev Bevan (ELO), Gene Vincent, Charley Pride.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be around or upwards of 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.