Thursday, January 18, 2024

Pookah - Pookah (1970 us, interesting experimental art prog rock)

For a band that released an album on a major label, there's surprisingly little information to be found on Pookah.  Featured keyboardist Pat Cupo, guitarist John Ippolito, and drummer Dave Ranaletta.  Cupo and Ippolito had been members of the mid-'60s Rochester, New York cover band The Trackers.  As for the band name, it was either a sly nod to a hookah, or taken from characters found in Irish folklore - spirits known as shape changers which could take the appearance of black horses, goats and rabbits. Given songs like 'Ha! Ha! I Can Fly ' and 'Rain On Your Grave'.

With  Ranaletta handling lead vocals, 'Blue and Peaceful' was built on a nifty Cupo piano riff and some tasty Ippolito bass.   With a pseudo-jazzy feel, this one actually sounded a bit like a mid-career Traffic tune.   Nice harmony vocals on the chorus.   United Artists tapped it as the American single. Opening up with some nice raga-flavored guitar and Ranaletta's martial drums, 'In a Field' came off as an interesting slice of acid-folk.   Very different from the rest of the album and quite attractive. 

With a spare, sluggish and distinctly lysergic feel, 'Merlin's Party' is probably the album's best known tune.  Hard to accurately describe, but along with Ippolito's raspy voice and Cupo's roller rink keyboards, it's one of those songs that sounds like it should have been featured on some sort of "B" flick. Album's standout performance, the combination of Cupo's keyboard-powered droning melody, and Cupo and Ippolito's stoned vocals meant 'Rain On Your Grave' simply oozed lysergic influences.

The album saw a couple of singles released. The band attracted a bit of attention opening for national acts stopping in Rochester (Family, Grand Funk Railroad, etc.), but simply couldn't break.  They were history by 1970 and seem to have all dropped out of music..  
1. Blue And Peaceful - 4:17
2. In A Field - 3:07
3. Tomorrow's The Day - 3:21
4. Things Don't Matter - 2:56
5. Broken Dream - 5:55
6. Kickin' A Can - 3:44
7. Merlin's Party - 4:31
8. Lady Ostrich - 4:42
9. Ha Haii Can Fly - 3:10
10.The Heat - 0:32
11.Rain On Your Grave - 5:27
All compositions by Onorato Cupo, John Ippolito, David Ranaletta 

*Onorato Cupo - Organ, Piano, Keyboards
*John Ippolito - Vocals, Bass, Guitar
*David Ranaletta - Vocals, Drums, Percussion