Montrose

ARTICLE ABOUT Montrose FROM SOUNDS, January 25, 1975

Norwegian Constitution Day is the national day of Norway and today, on the day, I celebrate by giving you this article on Montrose. This article also shows why Barton and Makowski later ended up together as journalists in the legendary rock magazine “Kerrang!”.
Have a good read.

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Paper money on Montrose

By Geoff Barton

“They`re very popular, you know, Montrose,” I insist. “Yes, well… at least you and Makowski like them,” comes the scathing reply from the rest of the SOUNDS staffers.
But really, they`re perhaps the most underrated band on the current Warner Brothers Music Show tour – which has now moved on from Britain and is currently resident in Germany.
Montrose, formed in 1973 by ex-Edgar Winter guitarist Ronnie Montrose, are a clean, simple and high-powered, if unadventurous, rock band with two albums to their credit – `Montrose` and the recently-released and more mature `Paper Money`. You may remember their `Bad Motor Scooter` single which, considering it was a bit raucous and noisy to be ideal BBC playlist material, got a fair number of plays; if you don`t recall it, then keep an ear or two open for `Connection`, their version of the Stones number, which looks set to be their next release.
Montrose have played Britain before – as support on a Quo tour and briefly at the Who affair at Charlton. I talked to their vocalist Sam Hagar the day after the band had played Manchester, on the same bill as Little Feat and Tower Of Power. How was it, Sam?
“Well, it was our first gig in three weeks and it wasn`t really too good,” he drawled. “My mike broke on the third song and that threw me – I wasn`t at all relaxed. But I`m looking forward to playing the Rainbow, I don`t think we`ve had a good show in London yet.”
I saw the band at the aforementioned Charlton concert – they came on at 11.30 am and could only play for 40 minutes – it was all rather disappointing.
“Oh, I remember I was quite hoarse then, I could hardly sing that early in the morning. But I guess it went down well. I was glad to play there, it probably did us more good than harm.”

Sam describes the band`s first album as a “blazer” – and I was surprised to hear that they recorded it with no gigging experience behind them: “Ronnie and I had known each other for just two weeks and we`d written all the songs for `Montrose`. It all came together,” he snaps his fingers, “just like that. Within two months we`d recorded an album, and it had so much spark on it it was unbelievable.”
And the second album, `Paper Money`?
“It`s a really fine effort,” he says, “I`m very pleased with it. It seems to me that the first one had more direction – you put it on, you listened to it, you knew what the band was like – but `Paper Money` is more varied, more mellow. I`d never really sung slow numbers like `Connection` before and it turned out really well.”
After the Warner Brothers` Tour Montrose go back to the States to hopefully play as support with Humble Pie or the Faces – they also want to break Los Angeles and record another album. “But I`m sure we`ll be back in England in the Fall,” Sam says.
Finally, what sort of spirit is developing on this current tour? Perhaps one of friendly competition between the bands – or something a little deeper?
“I haven`t felt any weirdness,” Sam replies, “but then it`s all just started and I don`t really know. It`s going to be something to see who comes out smiling at the end of it all, to see who gets the best response out of the whole thing.”
My paper money is on Montrose.

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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 Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Jeremy Spencer, Kevin Ayers, Alex Harvey, Overend Watts, Little Feat, David Essex, Jeff `Skunk` Baxter (Doobie Brothers), Jess Roden, Joe Walsh, John Entwistle.

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 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.

ARTICLE ABOUT Montrose FROM SOUNDS, May 25, 1974

We kick off a series of concert reviews with this one. Come back every day for the next three days and read a new posting. First out there is this very nice band that I would recommend you to check out if you never heard them before!

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Concert review from Charlton Athletic Football Ground

By Pete Makowski

No matter how good, exciting or even famous a band are they will always have trouble going down well if they`re first on the bill at a festival. People are still shuffling in search of plots of ground, and no one is really settled until the second or third band. So poor old Montrose didn`t really get the attention they deserved, although they played a fine set.
This American four piece are definitely going to leave the country with quite a following if all of their performances are up to this standard. The band were supporting Chapman/Whitney later during the day at Leicester so that probably accounts for why they eased up in terms of energy. Ronnie Montrose was playing better here than when I last saw the band at a gig supporting Quo. He sounded much looser although his playing was as vicious as ever. Sam Hager, isn`t my ideal vocalist, but he certainly is effective. His voice sounds like a cross between Rod Stewart and Paul Rodgers (one of my favourite vocalists), but without their subtleties.
The band played material off their debut album “Montrose”. “Rock The Nation” had drummer Denny Carmassi beating hell out of his cowbell and Sam, hands on hips screaming out the vocals voraciously. Ronnie took over the show on “Space Station 5” which featured some interesting tricks provided by his theremin (pardon?) a kind of a joystick hanging off the front of his custom made aluminium guitar which reacts to the heat of the hand, making distorted sounds. It proved to be a good closer and got some positive reaction from the audience. I`m sure they were well appreciated but the audience just weren`t in a mood to show it. You always need an opener to warm the kids, and Montrose worked well.

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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 Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Goldie Zelkowitz, Curtis Knight, Simon Alexander, Steely Dan, Chris Stainton, Ronnie Lane, Elliott Murphy, Loudon Wainwright, Tim Buckley, Steve Miller, Beach Boys, Tommy Vance, Jim Simpson, Stefan Grossman, Lynsey de Paul, Mott the Hoople, Kevin Ayers,
Dave Cousins, ELP.

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 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.

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.