J. F. Murphy and Salt was an utterly unique sextet that became a popular college campus fixture during the early 1970s. The band's rebellious stance against the Vietnam War was part of the picture, but it was the original compositions by bandleader, J.F. Murphy, and an overtly creative non-traditional approach to the covers they developed that brought them such a dedicated fan base.
Dropped by MGM the band signed with Elektra. Produced by Eddie Kramer, 1972's "JF Murphy and Salt" was a mostly live set capturing the band at a series of college performances including dates at The University of Hartford, Nassau Community College, and Trent State College. The closing country-flavored track ' If Wishes Were Horses' was clearly a studio effort.
Musically the set showcased the band's weird mixture of blues ('Kansas City'), country ('Country Jam'), jazz-rock fusion, traditional Irish tunes, straight-ahead rock, and social and political activism (the anti-war 'Waiting Hymn of the Republic'). It was definitely different and occasionally a bit disconcerting; particularly when they mixed all the genres together in one song - check out 'First Born', or 'Silver Horn' - the latter having a plotline about young guy trying to pass himself off as a Leprechaun at an Irish dance). Muphy was an okay singer who occasionally reminded me a bit of a bluesier Burton Cummings.
All six members were impressive musicians (guitarist Joe Parrino deserved special notice), and there was no denying their professionalism, but there just wasn't much here that caught my ear. The need to stretch out musically also didn't do the band any favors. Their cover of the blues classic 'Kansas City' went on for over 12 minutes and was basically unlistenable. Guess you had to be in the audience to get the full effect.
1. Sweet Byrd - 3:44
2. Which One - 4:01
3. Teenage Fantasy - 3:20
4. Touched By Love - 2:46
5. Bell Toll - 5:16
6. New York City / Home - 10:38
7. Man Who Is Alone - 3:18
8. Last Illusion - 9:59
All compositions by J. F. Murphy
J. F. Murphy And Salt
*Ron Allard - Bagpipes, Soprano-Alto-Tenor Sax, Flute, Tambourine, Backing Vocals
*George Christ - Harmonica, Vibes, Conga, Maracas, Chimes, Backing Vocals
*J.F. Murphy - Vocals, Piano, Guitar
*Bob Paiva - Drums
*Joe Parrino - Lead Guitar, Trombone, Flute, Backing Vocals
*Russell Warmolts - Bass, Backing Vocals
The Merchants Of Dream - Strange Night Voyage 1969
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