Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Felix Pappalardi - Don't Worry Ma (1979 us, excellent amalgam of rhythm 'n' blues and classic rock, 2004 edition)

The late 1970s were a strange time. Many of the movers and shakers of the previous decade and a half had believed the press releases, and taken the ‘Year Zero’ impact of punk as being real, rather than a creation of various record company marketing departments. Punk was supposed to have cleaned out the Augean stables of the music industry, sweeping away all the old rockers of the '60s and early '70s with a cleansing tide of three chord noise.

Of course it didn’t happen like that but it is amazing how many people still believe that it did. Most of the famous musicians of previous years carried on regardless, often becoming more successful post-punk than they were before, albeit with shorter haircuts and less references to Middle Earth. However, others made a definite attempt to change their MO. One such was famous bassist and producer Felix Pappalardi.

As a producer, Pappalardi is perhaps best known for his work with British psychedelic blues-rock power trio Cream, beginning with their second album, Disraeli Gears. Pappalardi has been referred to in various interviews with the members of Cream as "the fourth member of the band" as he generally had a role in arranging their music. He also played a session role on the songs he helped them record. He also produced The Youngbloods' first album.

As a musician Pappalardi is widely recognized as a bassist, vocalist and founding member of the American hard rock band/ heavy metal forerunner Mountain, a band born out of his working with future bandmate Leslie West's soul-inspired rock and roll band The Vagrants, and producing West's 1969 Mountain solo album. The band's original incarnation actively recorded and toured between 1969 and 1971. Felix produced the band's albums, and co-wrote and arranged a number of the band's songs with his wife Gail Collins and with Leslie West.

In 1978 there were rumours that Pappalardi was reuniting with former Mountain drummer Corky Laing and joining Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson in a new supergroup. If that had happened it would have been fantastic but sadly it was pure rumour. Instead he did something completely unexpected: he made a soul album.

William Ruhlmann writes: '1979's Don't Worry, Ma was a Pappalardi solo effort, the follow-up to his 1976 album Felix Pappalardi & Creation, in which he teamed with a Japanese rock quartet. This time, he employed a bunch of New York super-session musicians, only acting as singer with a basic band consisting of guitarist Eric Gale, keyboardist Richard Tee, bassist Chuck Rainey, and drummer Bernard Purdie (who also, amazingly, was the credited producer instead of Pappalardi), plus a collection of strings, reeds, and horns, as well as a trio of female backup singers.

'Nor had Pappalardi, as he usually did, co-written original material with his wife and lyricist, Gail Collins. Instead, this is a collection of covers including the leadoff track, the folk-blues standard "Bring It with You When You Come," the folk standard "Water Is Wide," Tommy Tucker's 1964 R&B hit "Hi-Heel Sneakers," and, in a funk arrangement, Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love" (for which Pappalardi produced the original recording). The arrangements are in a bluesy, funky style, for the most part, suggesting Memphis soul or James Brown's band”.'
1. Bring It With You When You Come (Traditional) - 3:43
2. As The Years Go Passing By (Deadric Malone) - 4:11
3. Railroad Angels (Marty Simon, Mylon LeFevre) - 4:35
4. High Heel Sneakers (Robert Higginbotham) - 4:45
5. The Water Is Wide (Felix Pappalardi, Gail Collins) - 3:00
6. Sunshine Of Your Love (Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Pete Brown) - 4:34
7. Caught A Fever (W. Kane) - 4:35
8. White Boy Blues (Panama Red) - 3:59
9. Farmer's Daughter (Gib Guilbeau, Mickey McGee, Thad Maxwell) - 4:12

*Felix Pappalardi - Bass, Keyboards, Vocals
*Eric Gale - Guitar
*Chuck Tainey - Bass
*Bernard "Pretty" Purdie - Drums, Tambourine, Timpani
*Chuck Rainey - Bass
*Richard Tee - Keyboards, Piano
*Sanford Allen - Violin
*Julien Barber - Viola
*Al Brown - Viola
*Doreen Callender - Violin
*Norman Carr - Violin
*Jack Cavari - Guitar
*Arthur "Babe" Clarke - Clarinet 
*Selwart Clarke - Viola
*Burt Collins - Trumpet
*Eddie Daniels - Clarinet, Flute, Tenor Saxophone
*Noel de Costa - Violin
*Peter Dimitriades - Violin
*Corky Hale - Harp
*Hilda Harris - Background Vocals
*Kathryn Krienke - Violin
*George Marge - Oboe, Piccolo
*Irvin "Marky" Markowitz - Flugelhorn, Trumpet
*Yolanda McCullough - Background Vocals
*Kermit Moore - Cello
*Pancho Morales - Congas
*George Opalisky - Flute 
*Gene Orloff - Violin
*Horace Ott - Arranger, Conductor
*Victor Paz - Flugelhorn, Trumpet
*Maretha Stewart - Background Vocals
*David Tofani - Flute, Tenor Saxophone
*Robert Tozek - Violin
*Frank Wess - Flute, Tenor Saxophone
*Wilmer Wise - Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone
*George Young - Flute, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone

Related Acts
1970  Mountain - Climbing! (2013 blu spec edition)