The Apple Pie Motherhood Band were a Boston-based aggregate combining a formative heavy blues base with equally earthy elements of psychedelia. With Atlantic Records staff producer Felix Pappalardi behind the console, the results were a reflection of the ever-changing pop/rock soundscape.
Although the band' s lineup would remain in a constant state of flux, the ensemble credited here includes Dick Barnaby (bass), Jack Bruno (drums), Joe Castagno (guitar), Ted Demos (guitar), and Jeff Labes (organ/piano). Although Anne Tanzey, their original "chick" (a la Janis Joplin) singer had already split by the time they were recording this -- their self-titled debut album -- Marilyn Lundquist (vocal) was temporarily filling the vocalist's void.
Her dulcet tones grace several songs -- particularly notable is the Baroque-flavored update of David Blue's "I'd Like to Know" and the trippy "Ice," which Lundquist co-wrote alongside Demos. The thoroughly explored reading of Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign" is an obvious homage to British supergroup trio Cream who had previously reworked it into a blues-fused jam. Listeners can even catch Barnaby's note-for-note recitation of Jack Bruce's foreboding bassline during the waning moments of the fade. Labes' "Yesterday's New Song" is a minor-chord masterwork.
The gentle and understated melody perfectly supports some of the Apple Pie Motherhood Band's best vocal harmonies -- recalling the Association or Spanky & Our Gang at their affective best. Barnaby contributes the catchy and concise "Barnaby's Madness," and while the psych-meets-punk vibe is an earmark of the unit's Bosstown Sound roots, to a certain degree, the best of the band can be heard on the seven-plus minute slice of psych medley that links the group-penned instrumental "The Ultimate" to a blue-eyed soulful interpretation of Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon's "Contact."
The number was a return to the Apple Pie Motherhood Band's prototype C.C. & the Chasers -- whose single "Put the Clock Back on the Wall" b/w "Two & Twenty" were both from the Bonner/Gordon songbook. Labes' quirky "The Way It Feels" may well have been inspired by Sopwith Camel's vintage sounding "Hello, Hello," while his upbeat "Apple Pie" is layered in sweet, harmony-laden sunshine pop.
Labes likewise penned the closer "Variations on a Fingernail" that propels forward with tricky rhythmic syncopation reminiscent of early Mothers of Invention melodies such as "Mother People" and "Oh No." The Apple Pie Motherhood Band would continue with a revolving door personnel for another year and release their swan song Apple Pie (1970) shortly before breaking up at the dawn of the following decade.
by Lindsay Planer
1. Born Under A Bad Sign (B. T. Jones, W. Bell) - 7:05
2. I'd Like To Know (D. Blue, A. Ranga) - 2:15
3. Ice (T. Demos, M. Lundquist) - 2:31
4. Yesterday's New Song (J. Labes) - 3:14
5. Barnaby's Madness (R. Barnaby) - 2:45
6. The Ultimate / Contact (D. Barnaby, J. Bruno, J. Castagno, Al Gordon, G. Bonner) - 7:10
7. The Way It Feels (J. Labes) - 2:27
8. Bread And Jam (D. Barnaby, J. Bruno, J. Castagno, T. Demos, J. Labes) - 3:14
9. Apple Pie (J. Labes) - 2:55
10.Variations On A Fingernail (J. Labes) - 3:15
The Apple Pie Motherhood Band
*Jeff Labes - Organ, Piano
*Ted Demos - Lead guitar
*Joe Castagno - Rhythm guitar
*Jackie Bruno - Drums
*Richard Barnaby - Bass