Monday, March 25, 2024

Ivory - Ivory (1973 us, magnificent prog space rock)

Ivory was formed in early 1972 as a backup band for the lead singer, Grant Gullickson. However, Grant was somewhat uncomfortable with being the star, and wanted more of a "band" concept. Grant had been in a very successful band while he was in college, called the Canoise. Grant's friend and producer, Tim Alvarado, had the idea to create an all-keyboard band, with no electric guitarist at all. Originally, it was going to consist of three keyboardists and a drummer, but it was soon clear that with the superb musicians Paul Bass on Hammond organ, and Brian Whitcomb on piano, the sound was full and complex. Jim Divisek brought a strong rock feel on drums, but also a focus on eastern rhythms and electronic music acquired during his studies at Cal Arts. Steve Pinkston joined the group after their first bass player did not work out. Later, Grant's brother Lance Gullickson joined the group, and brought expanded vocal harmonies and songwriting skills to the mix.

Ivory has generally been described as a progressive or "prog-rock" band. Certainly, one could hear echoes of Yes, King Crimson, and Procol Harum in their music. But there was also a bit of a jazz influence at work. Live, the group would often do instrumental sets of jazz standards like "Summertime" or "Milestones". Grant's singing onstage was vastly more dynamic than was ever captured in a recording studio, and the live interplay between the musicians was very intense.

Ivory recorded just one album, a self-titled effort on Playboy Records (#PB115), produced by Tim Alvarado. Most of the album was recorded at the legendary Record Plant in Los Angeles. Two different versions were released. On the second version, a Robbie Robertson tune replaced a Kin Vassey tune, in order to qualify as "Canadian content" under that country's airplay rules.
Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock
1. Morning Song (Grant Gullickson, Roger Kellaway) - 4:20
2. Prime Example (Michael Lanning) - 2:53
3. Take It Easy (Brian Whitcomb) - 2:59
4. Where Do We Go From Here (Robbie Robertson) - 2:27
5. Arrow Beach (James Divisek) - 1:28
6. Bringing Me Down (Grant Gullickson, Marian Brown) - 3:58
7. Bear Phaze (Stephen Pinkston) - 2:23
8. Theme For An Imaginary Western (Jack Bruce) - 3:29
9. I Want To Tell You (Grant Gullickson, Jim Bukey, Paul Bass) - 8:00
10.Time After Time (Brian Whitcomb, Grant Gullickson, Stephen Pinkston) - 3:05

*Grant Gullickson - Vocals
*Stephen Finkaton - Electric Bass, String Bass. Tuba, Hands
*Brian Whitcomb - Piano, Tack Piano, Melodica, Acoustic Whistle. Marimba, Celeste, Clavinet
*Paul Base - Organ, Accordion, Harpsichord, Calliope, Fender Rhoades
*Tim Divisok - Drums, Electronics, Percussion
*Marian Brown, Clydie King, Venetta Fields, Forrest, Orvis, The Ivoryettes, Wyatt - Backing Vocals