Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Day After The Sabbath 44: Ridin' High [USA pt.1]

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Firstly, I must thank Zischkale for a few great recommendations on this one! TDATS 44 is a collection of rock, prog and psych from American bands. Steeplechase kick things off in fine fashion with some great hard hammond riffs. The Flow was a three-piece from New York who effectively used a variety of electronica to embellish their brand of heavy psych with trippy cosmic doom. Utopia were a short-lived heavy blues band from California who had a Blue Cheerfulness to them and Totty had a couple of late 70's self-releases that have recently been unearthed and issued anew. Two brothers in the band played some blistering hard rock on their superior 1977 debut.

Unison had a great guitar fuzz sound and the Yellow Payges were a California pop band that showed promise with their 1968 debut, unfortunately they did not last long enough to follow it up and elaborate on their harder-rocking tracks like Devil Woman. Cathedral, from New York, produced one excellent prog album in 1978, and then resurfaced 30 years later with another. A Euphonious Wail (euphonious: 'pleasant in sound; agreeable to the ear') made an interesting album with male and female vox in 1973, the track called F# being the hard-rock highlight. Regarding the Texas band Oz Knozz, that have a few retrospective releases but never made an album at the time, more can be read here and at their facebook page.

Zipper's solitary 1975 album was the result of Weeds ex-member Fred Cole moving to Portland to start his band. White Summer were a Michigan based band who had one private press s/t album with some great tight rockers on it. For track 12 I have found a great Dust cover, from a newish Portland (OR) band called Red Fang, and to finish off the comp is a track from a late 70's private pressing. This is not the band that made the Rocky theme 'Eye Of The Tiger', but an obscure Louisiana band that successfully mixed the burgeoning NWOBHM sound of Thin Lizzy and Judas Priest with a dash of southern rock.

01. Steeplechase - Wrought Iron Man (1970)
02. The Flow - It Swallowed The Sun (1972)
03. Totty - Wicked Truth (1977)
04. Utopia - I Just Want To Make Love To You (1969)
05. Unison - Flesh and Blood (1976)
06. The Yellow Payges - Devil Woman (1968)
07. Cathedral - Gong (1978)
08. A Euphonious Wail - F# (1973)
09. Oz Knozz - Peanut Butter Yoni (1975)
10. Zipper - Let It Freeze (1975)
11. White Summer - Ridin High (1976)
12. Red Fang - Suicide (2007)
13. Survivor - Deceive Me (1979)
Oz Knozz is a Progressive Rock band from Houston, Texas. The band was formed in 1969 as a trio, consisting of Duane Massey on Keyboards, Trumpet, and Lead Vocals, Bill Massey on Bass, Guitar, Saxophone and Vocals, and Jack Alford on Drums, Flute, and Vocals. All three were students at Westbury High School in Houston, Texas. After a couple of years, Jack decided to leave the band and pursue another profession, at this point fellow Westbury student Marty Naul took over the drumming duties. After graduating from high school, Marty and Duane attended Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, where they both majored in Music, and it was here in 1972 that they met Richard Heath of Austin, who became the band's original Lead Guitarist. It was also at this time that the band experimented with a three piece horn section, with Bob Odneal on Trumpet, Randy Griffin on Saxophone and Flute, and Curtiss Byrd on Trombone.

The band played in this configuration for a couple of years, finally cutting the horn section in about 1974, and recording the band's debut album, "Ruff Mix", in 1975. Shortly after "Ruff Mix" was released, Richard left the band to head his own musical projects, and he was replaced for a short time by Keyboardist Patrick Brennan. The line-up of two keyboardists and no guitarist didn't work out too well, so Patrick eventually left the group and was replaced in late 1975/early 1976 by guitarist Rick Wheeler. In 1980, it was decided that Duane had stretched his vocal abilities about as far as he could, so the band welcomed Lead Vocalist Glenn Gibson to the line-up. Glenn was with the band for roughly three years, sharing vocal duties with Randy James, who also appeared about this time. After Glenn and Randy had both left the band, singer Matt Jernigan joined the group in 1983, and the band toured all over the Western US in this configuration.

After Oz Knozz came home from the 1983 tour, Rick Wheeler, Matt Jernigan, and Bill Massey all left the group, leaving Duane and Marty looking for new players if the band was to continue. After looking around and trying out various musicians during the early months of 1984, three new people were hired to carry on; Milton De Coronado (Miltonio) on Lead Vocals and Keyboards, David Frasier on Guitar, and Scott Langston on Bass, Lead and Backing Vocals. After about six months, David Frasier was replaced on guitar by Robert Guinea (Robert-O). Milton then left in 1986 and moved to Los Angeles, Ca. and was replaced by Lead Vocalist Joel Vinson. Scott was also trading his place on bass with Craig Chambers, and the two of them alternated on Bass for the next couple of years.

In early 1987, it seemed like the end for Oz Knozz, nobody was really interested in investing the time or effort needed to keep the band alive, so for the first time in 18 years, it was decided to break up the band completely. This was the state of things until early 1996, when Marty and Duane started talking about giving things another go, but doing things a little differently. In the early days, the band put alot of pressure on themselves to "make it", this time around would be much different; keeping the pressure off, have fun playing the music, and quit worrying about "being Rock Stars"! Milton was contacted, and immediately said yes, Bassist Victor De La Garza was hired, as was Bill Mohelsky on Lead Guitar. After a few shows, Victor decided his schedule wouldn't allow him enough time to carry on with Oz Knozz, so Jason Arkfeld was brought in to play Bass, which he did from 1996 until 1998, when Bill Massey expressed interest in not only playing bass again, but doing it within the framework of Oz Knozz. Jason understood completely, so he left the band amicably in the spring of 1998 and Bill regained the Bass Player's position. Four years later, in the summer of 2002, Guitarist Bill Mohelsky was replaced by the return of Robert-O to the band.

It is impossible to name every person who has ever played with Oz Knozz, but it has been estimated that as many as 25 people have worked with the band on at least one show! The current line-up is the one that can be heard on the new CD, "10,000 Days & Nights", so this group of musicians seems destined to stay together for the forseeable future.

As of March 2010, Oz Knozz is back in the studio recording a brand new CD, titled "True Believer", to be released sometime in the Fall of 2011. The CD has ten tracks on it as opposed to eight on "10,000 Days", and is more Progressive. The band is recording the project over at Sound Arts Recording Studios in Houston, Texas, with studio engineer Brian Baker at the console.

Cheers, Rich

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  1. the chick of cover art is very hot fits perfectly to concept of regards

  2. More great album art! Looking forward to this one, lots of obscurities with only a few tracks I know. Curious about which Survivor and Zipper tracks you chose, it's been a long time since I checked them out.

    Keep up the good work!!

  3. Great comp. What do you know about Oz Knozz? Love that track...especially how it slams the breaks in the middle.

  4. Cheers man, there some info out there on teh net, an they have some much more recent 90s recordings too..

  5. Who said a great cover doesn't sell records? I want the high-def version of it!

    Check my blog (not quite the same stuff, but should be of interest):

  6. Electric Sabbath ✟ June 6, 2011 at 12:17 AM. the chick of cover art is very ...