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Shoot: On the Frontier

Kudos once again to Angel Air Records for consistently delivering rare nuggets from the rock 'n' roll vaults, and here's their latest, the 1973 release from the short lived band Shoot, titled On the Frontier. Comprised of ex-Yardbirds/Renaissance member Jim McCarty, guitarist Dave Greene (Raw Material), bassist Bill Russell, and ex-Manfred Man drummer Craig Collinge, the album also featured guest contributions from Renaissance pianist John Tout, violinist Graham Preskitt, pedal steel player B.J. Cole, and horns courtesy of Lyn Dobson & Bob Birtles. McCarty for his part decided to climb from behind the drum kit for the first time and tackle lead vocals and keyboards, and he did a fine job, lending some tasty organ, Mellotron, and piano to the albums ten songs which combined rock, jazz, prog, psychedelia, and country flavors.

You can hear a bit of the Renaissance element on kick off track "The Neon Life", a vibrant opener drenched in layers of vocals, piano, sax, and tasty guitar work, the band not afraid to mix in some jazz into their eclectic art rock framework. "Ships and Sails" and the title track blend in some country rock ala Crosby, Stills, and Nash or the Eagles, complete with gorgeous vocal harmonies and lush acoustic guitars, while intriguing electric piano and biting electric guitar add a funky edge to the harder rocking "Living Blind". Cole's wispy pedal steel adds a country flair to the old style rock of "The Boogie", as does Preskitt's violin on the more bluegrass driven "Midnight Train". It's back to psychedelic rock on the addicting "Sepia Sister", a dreamy song with a great chorus complemented by Mellotron, acoustic guitars, and bluesy electric guitar, while "Old Time Religion" dips into majestic prog with soaring violin and piano working alongside powerful vocals from McCarty. Russell's thick lead bass starts the heavy groove on the Traffic-influenced "Mean Customer", On the Frontier's longest and most adventurous track, filled with mysterious folk, jazz, and prog flavors, Greene's layers of acoustic guitars dense & thick while Collinge lays down plenty of intricate drums and percussion. Bonus track "Storms as Sorrows" shows a harder rocking side of the band that might have been explored on future releases but sadly that never happened.

It's a shame that Shoot's flame burned out so quickly, as this debut showed a lot of promise but ultimately it was to be the lone recorded output from the band before they broke up. Angel Air has gone to great lengths to make On the Frontier's first appearance on CD a good one, complete with a detailed history of the band and photos. It's well worth investigating for those always searching for rare '70s rock.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!


Track Listing
1. The Neon Life
2. Ships and Sails
3. Living Blind
4. On the Frontier
5. The Boogie
6. Midnight Train
7. Head Under Water
8. Sepia Sister
9. Old Time Religion
10. Mean Customer
11. Storms as Sorrows (radio session-bonus track)
12. The Neon Life (radio session-bonus track)

Added: March 5th 2017
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score:
Related Link: Angel Air Records
Hits: 255
Language: english

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Shoot: On the Frontier
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2017-03-05 15:36:40
My Score:

Having been the drummer in The Yardbirds, Jim McCarty then went on to become part of the original line-up of Renaissance. However with a burning desire to sing the songs he was writing, the drummer turned singer took the bold step to leave the band and start his own, calling them Shoot. Recruiting Manfred Mann Chapter Three drummer Craig Collinge, McCarty decided not only to sing, but also take on keyboards and percussion, while Bill Russell joined on bass and Dave Greene on guitars, banjo and backing vocals.

Staying true to the progressive path he'd begun to walk down with Renaissance, Shoot found McCarty moving into a more accessible setting, his voice reminiscent of Status Quo's Francis Rossi, while the gently progressive, gently psychedelic, slightly poppy music made for eclectic, but instantly memorable fare. Releasing their one and only album, On The Frontier, in 1972, the band played a support slot opening for The Pretty Things, as well as recording a few radio sessions. However with McCarty road weary after his 'work them to the bone' time in The Yardbirds, Shoot never really became a touring beast, merely playing a handful of shows here and there and only when the mood took them. Something which way back then meant bands went largely ignored. And so it proved, On The Frontier a commercial flop that, even after backing the album hugely, caused EMI to drop the band. A few rhythm section reshuffles ensued, before they folded only one year after their debut had arrived.

Now some 44 years later, Angel Air have dusted the album down for its first appearance on CD, and added in two 'radio session' tracks as a bonus. In truth, good though those extra tracks are, On The Frontier doesn't need a sweetner to grab your interest, a set of shimmering, enigmatic, but hugely catchy and memorable songs doing that all on their own. McCarty's easy vocal delivery doesn't hurt either, while with horns, dobro, violin and piano sprinkled across the album, the arrangements also hugely impress.

Whether through the surprisingly tuneful drone of the stripped back "Midnight Train", the forceful, almost Roxy Music meets Pink Floyd of "The Neon Life", or the jaunty Moody Blues inspired "Ships And Sails", an authentic vibe carries you along. Especially when you sit back and soak in the clever vocal interplay between McCarty and Greene, which adds yet another dimension to these excellent songs. Something also illustrated via the King Crimson-lite of "Living Blind" and dreamy "Sepia Sister", which unbeknown to the band, had begun to receive regular air time on St Louis radio station KSHE. In fact, you can't help but think that had Shoot managed to have a shot at the US market, they may just have made a greater impact. As it is, the band were one time wonders, but in On The Frontier, they left an excellent album behind them.



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