My musical history goes back pretty far, into the late Sixties, but I've never heard of Chicago's The Flock. They're often mentioned in the same sentence with Chicago and Blood, Sweat, & Tears, two more well known bands of the era, yet didn't have the same success. This is despite having two albums released on the prominent Columbia Records, and one on Mercury Records. However, there are some people that recall them. There's plenty of music to be heard by them on YouTube.
Now Cleopatra Records and it's imprint Purple Pyramid Records have found some 'lost' recordings, material that founders Fred Glickstein (guitar, lead vocals) and Ron Karpman (drums) had been working on after the band's break up. Heaven Bound is then the long lost fourth album that should have been released.
And I'm wondering what the fuss is all about. I'm not saying that this material should have remained in a cardboard box in someone's basement but, excepting a few songs, it's all rather, well, uninteresting. Mostly, it simply sounds old and, against peers of the time like Chicago, on a level below. The music is basically classic melodic rock mixing in some blues, country, jazz, and maybe even a little southern California surfer music. The Flock also throws in some horns, which aid the jazz fusion thing, and electric violin which makes them sound like their playing with Jean-Luc Ponty (remember him?). Because this is an eclectic collections, the sound and mix can vary significantly from song to song.
Having said these things, there is some interesting material here. I was more drawn to the songs that had a guitar driven sound. Love Away is a good example, also having a strong bass line and good vocal harmonies. The latter is a trademark feature of the band. Another interesting song is Rolling With The Clones, with it's rollicking rock groove and touch of horns. You get a touch of that post-psychedelic sound with Reasons, another song with strong guitar lines. For a song with more diversity, vibrant prog rock, jazz fusion, there's The Test where rock, blues, jazz converge with horns accenting throughout. This song is likely the best example where The Flock is their most creative and inspired, firing on all cylinders, and challenging the status of their peers. While it shows the musician's depth, the song Mama is the odd man out here, a country number that has this playful, yet goofy, feel to it.
If anything, despite my earlier reservations and questions, The Flock's Heaven Bound is definitely a window looking into a different time, an historical record of the origins of melodic to progressive rock. That alone is cause for some investigation.
The Flock's Heaven Bound is definitely a window looking into a different time, an historical record of the origins of melodic to progressive rock. That alone is cause for some investigation.
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