Rick Grech - The Last Five Years - 1973
The late Rick Grech was given a unique retrospective by his label RSO Records, much like the rare 1971Winwood double LP on United Artists. The big difference being that the recalled UA package on Winwood had a lavish eight-page photo essay spread written by Bobby Abrams, while Grech's single LP contains one photo page with very little information on where the material came from. Eight of the nine songs are written or co-written by bassist Rick Grech, the one hold-out being Steve Winwood's "Sea of Joy." Now listen up history buffs, because AMG is the first publication to see this musical nugget myth in print. When the late Jimmy Miller was at the residence of this writer (who represented the producer for many years) looking over the vast collection of his work, he smiled when seeing "Sea of Joy" on a "best-of" Rick Grech. To paraphrase Miller as best as possible "The best of Rick Grech? It's Jack Bruce playing bass on "Sea of Joy"!" According to archivist John McDermott in the Blind Faith Deluxe Edition, the song is "highlighted by Rick Grech's striking violin work," that being true, "Sea of Joy" is certainly a key track on a Grech compilation -- but Jimmy Miller was absolute that Jack Bruce is performing on some of the Blind Faith material. Is this truly Cream meets Traffic? Perhaps only Jack Bruce, Steve Winwood, Ginger Baker, or engineer George Chkiantz know for sure, but it certainly adds some intrigue to a much revered song and album.
The Last Five Years is an extraordinary collection because it focuses on Rick Grech the songwriter as much as the journeyman. Where it fails is not in the music, but in the presentation. "Second Generation Woman" is taken from 1969's Family Entertainment album by Family, which contained three Rick Grech compositions. Track three here, "Face in the Cloud" is also from those sessions. The third composition from that Family disc, "How-Hi-The-Li," is track three on side two of this LP. "Kiss the Children," the second track, is from the 1972/1973 G.P. solo disc by Gram Parsons -- the diversity in Grech's work certainly worthy of better attention than just slapping the tunes on the disc with little commentary. "Just a Guest" was written solely by Grech and features the superb vocals of Rosetta Hightower, produced by Ian Green. It's such a great track, yet looking at the listing on the back cover, even hardcore fans would think it is Grech performing his own tune. This was licensed from Phonogram, most likely from Hightower's own record. It is followed by Ginger Baker's Air Force, the final track from that live double album produced by Jimmy Miller, the Baker/Grech piece "Doin' It." Side two opens with 1968's "Hey Mr. Policeman" from Family's Music in a Doll's House album, produced by Dave Mason. "Rock & Roll Stew" from Traffic's brilliant 1971 disc, Low Spark of High Heeled Boys is probably the track with the most recognition, next to "Sea of Joy.." And there you have it, the tracking information to what was a brilliant concept -- housing stunning performances from many of Grech's ensembles. The pity here is that the music is so good, a better presentation and package could have been a blessing to all involved. The Last Five Years is a brilliant collection of songs that can get you riled up over how labels treat precious art like this as so much "product" to be issued on a budget line like a Camden or Pickwick.
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01. Family - Second Generation Woman
02. Gram Parsons - Kiss the Children
03. Family - Face in the Cloud
04. Rosetta Hightower - Just a Guest
05. Ginger Baker's Air Force - Doin' It
06. Family - Hey Mr. Policeman
07. Traffic - Rock N' Roll Stew
08. Family - How - Hi - The - Li
09. Blind Faith - Sea of Joy