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Leslie West - Mountain

  by Lisa Torem

published: 23 / 8 / 2016

Leslie West - Mountain
Label: Select Label
Format: N/A


In our 'Re:View' section, in which we look back at albums from the past, Lisa Torem finds 'Mountain’, the remastered version of the 1969 debut by electric guitarist/singer Leslie West’s band, to be an album of contrasts

Legendary guitarist Leslie West's newly remastered 'Mountain' (originally released in 1969 as 'Leslie West') is a sonic treasure. It is beautifully packaged with a 12-page booklet written by Malcolm Dome and sprinkled with pertinent West quotes. But, of course, it's what's inside that really counts and this band truly satisfies. You can hear Felix Pappalardi's Cream influence in his bombastic bass lines; unforgettable lines, which shore up West's gravel voice with compelling lustre. Mountain were one of the premier rock bands of the classic rock era and this album was their big hitter. 'Blood of the Sun' begins with West's brassy voice and a creeping, badass bass. At first, West laments about "Crying in the ocean", but the song is actually about new beginnings: "Leaving the city behind and sending for you soon." The drum fills by N. D. Smart II are also striking. 'Long Red' has been long revered and sampled. First, producer Rick Rubin caught on and then a string of rappers. Interestingly, the background sounds more baroque than the other tracks, but the beat is still riveting. Divine military drumming and blistering electric guitar work star here. Pay attention to Norman Landsberg's clean and compelling contributions. You'll enjoy his organ talents on several other dynamite tracks. 'Better Watch Out' is a different animal. Southern rock? Funk? Of course, music wasn't necessarily categorised that way back then, but there are definite strains that pull together to make it unique. West's voice really shines, too. 'Blind Man' is a definitive classic rocker: raucous, rebellious and based on a genuine story line. Although 'Baby I'm Down' flip-flops tempo wise, West always holds his own, gliding effortlessly from stanza to stanza. 'Dreams of Milk and Honey' finds some great trading-off of visceral lines and the solo work is astonishing. For contrast, Norman Landsberg's organ makes 'Storyteller Man' a rouser with his gospel-inflected licks. What makes 'This Wheel's on Fire' so dear is the subtle but powerful instrumental build as the vocals escalate. 'Look to the Wild' is the one song that uses a symphonic background. It also maintains a remarkable verve. 'Southbound Train' is another unstoppable tour de force. West shows off his personality like a genuine blues statesman. The closer, 'Because You Are My Friend', is surprisingly done in a folk style; all the more reason to listen up. "Today you are tomorrow's child/Just open up the door", West sings. 'Mountain' is an album that offers lots of keen contrast with thrilling peaks at every turn.

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Leslie West - Mountain

Leslie West - Mountain

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