Thursday, August 13, 2015

Warhorse: "Warhorse" (1970)

Before discovering and using the internet, looking up info on older bands was often a gamble. Even more so if they weren't as well-known as, say, Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd. And double that if their stuff went unreleased over here in the States. One had to rely on liner notes inside of albums, CD's, footnotes in book entries and stuff like that. You would read about a band where one guy had left to form his own band, and they might have mentioned the band's name, but that was it, and you would be left wondering what they might have sounded like.

Such was the case with early Deep Purple, the "Mark I" lineup. I know Rod Evans and Nick Simper had left, but I really didn't know what became of them (musically) after that. Rod Evans fronted a band called Captain Beyond, featuring former members of Iron Butterfly and Johnny Winter's band, but Nick Simper was in a band called Warhorse, and...that was all that was known then!

In the pages of Goldmine, I began to see that they not only had two albums, but that they were also on CD. They were pricey imports from Germany, but I was anxious to find out what they sounded like. I ordered both of them from a place in Berkeley called Mod Lang, which specialized in imports. Two weeks later, they showed up in the mailbox.

To be honest, I was a little disappointed that not only were they a five-piece band not unlike Purple (I was hoping for a heavy power-trio or something), but they sounded a lot like them as well. In fact, most of the songs on the first albums were re-treads of songs from the first three Purple albums. Heck, they even looked like Deep Purple, with the long hair, and the mustachioed keyboardist!

But, the more I played it, the more I liked fact, I actually liked it more than Deep Purple's stuff (at least, the stuff after the Mark I lineup). The vocals left a little to be desired here and there, but the music was so good that you could overlook that. Great, crunching Hammond organ, and ultra-cool basslines from Nick throughout it.

The second album, Red Sea, had some good moments on it, but they were blatantly trying to be Deep Purple on this one, with a lot of Ian Gillan-style yowling, and guitar solos that sounded like Ritchie. Nonetheless, the first album was definitely a heavy influence on my fledgling keyboard playing and composition style, and is still a favorite to this day.

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