Well it’s sure nice to see the Grape have cheered up since their Fillmore East fiasco of the past June. It was to be their big comeback and in practice they played the best live set ever performed anytime anywhere and then when the audience was there they stank. Audiences can be a pain in the ass I guess and this album proves that without an audience and with all the members of the original Grape aboard ship they can outdo Truly Fine Citizen with their eyes closed.
The best indication of an improvement in disposition is the way they’re doing “Ode to the Man at the End of the Bar” now. Mosley a great singer used to do it sort of slow and melancholy. Now it’s fast and almost happy and either way it’s one of the swellest drinking songs in the history of annaldom. All about how this guy’s been sitting there drinking and losing his keys and getting a new glass after the one he had got broken and he pukes and stuff like that. You know the story, it’s happened to you, it’s happened to me, it’s happened to all of us.
But we haven’t all been as lucky as the guy in Peter Lewis’ “Goin’ Down to Texas.” He’s going with the girl that he just met, they’re gonna see her family in her new Corvette! That’s all right. I know you can dig it, you wish it was you, right? That’s if you’re a guy. If you’re a lady you wish it was your Corvette, am I right? Either way it’s a great song.
The longest terrific amazing cut is also the only Skip Spence cut on the album. Skip’s never done a bad cut and if you count all the cuts on his own Our that’s an awful lot of cuts, good, bad or otherwise. And they even happen to be all good and so’s “Chinese Song” which has him on koto. There was once a koto cut on an early Association album but this one’s got it beat by more than a league. It’s kind of reminiscent, of that thing on the second Country Joe album with the really slow notes and you keep wondering why it’s so slow and what’s gonna happen next. What happens in this one is tension after tension plus some hoodoo and voodoo. And no singing, not a single word, a big surprise when Mr. Spence is involved indeed.
Surprises are fun and the Grape’s got the biggest one of all up its sleeve. Which is: they’re the only San Francisco band to survive the whole last couple of whatever, and that includes the Dead, buster. They let themselves fly off the handle lots of times like all boys should and now here they are back in one piece(s). All made possible by temporary total disintegration. In fact constant temporary total disintegration.
It would be a real treat if someone got ahold of Bud Scoppa’s real tentacle of a tape of the Grape’s pre-Fillmore practice session and put it out as the companion for this one. But even without Bud’s tape this is still the humdingerest Kinney product since Sticky Fingers. And it’s better than the Who too.