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Mountain: The Best of Mountain (remaster)

The late 1960s and early 1970s were a golden age for music for more reason than one, though, listening to this Best Of collection from Mountain末a little band with a monstrous sound末a dominant impression, a single stream does begin to emerge. It wasn't so much that rock music was coming into its own, shedding more of its strictly-above-the-waist whiteness in order to get closer to its darker, strictly-below-the-waist ones, nor was it that the music was growing more and more raucous, ever louder than bombs, dirtier than millions of hippies at the moment they found themselves in torrential downpour on a thousand farms nationwide; nor was it merely that rock music was expanding minds faster than ten consecutive hits of acid and five hundred straight hours of transcendental meditation (and a healthy dose of tantric sex thrown in for good measure) combined; nor was it because the key artists of the day (and, arguably, just as often, the less-than-key ones) were advancing the lines of rock and roll faster than a million Marines on a three-day super-steroid bender held along (or beyond) enemy lines. All of that was happening, sure, but the main reason it happened or,rather, the reason it seemed to boil over and its sweet, herbal smell managed to emanate from the very belly of this benevolent beast and the reason that that era of rock remains unsurpassed for its sheer volume of enduring, uncompromising and innovative artists rests in the genuinely reflexive nature of the playing and compositions.

That reflexiveness, which was at the very core of bands such as Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience (and, later, Band Of Gypsies), Blue Cheer; to this very day it informs Neil Young's work and here, on this collection, it drips from the opening of "Never In My Life," where Leslie West's deep, dirty guitar riff, Felix Pappalardi's swift, frenetic bass lines and Corky Laing's propulsive (and deceptively simple) drum beats ignite the speakers in a blaze that glows increasingly end-of-the-tunnel white with each of West's liquid lead lines. The trio's raw power, their untamed genius, is as evident there as it is on the slightly more familiar "Mississippi Queen" and the band's take on Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven." While the latter may come across as misguided today it displays the the cavalier nature of the music at the time末if it felt good, they did it.

But Mountain did a lot of things and if this collection proves nothing else, it's that the band were more than a blues rock combo who cranked out a few hits. Fact is, Mountain Pappalardi's refined, classical sensibilities, which permeate songs such as "Taunta (Sammy's Tune)," "King's Chorale" do more than balance West's animalistic whiskey and women benders末they suggest how deeply this collective influenced American progressive rock and American metal.

In all, this collection provides a great place to dig in末if "For Yasgur's Farm," "Theme For An Imaginary Western," "Crossroader" and "The Animal Trainer And The Toad" (which tells the story of the band in less than four minutes) don't convince you to buy more Mountain albums, then you have no sense of adventure. It's a shame that this band has been overlooked as often as they have been. Now's the time for us to redeem ourselves in their eyes.

Added: October 26th 2003
Reviewer: Jedd Beaudoin
Related Link: Official Site
Hits: 2583
Language: english

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