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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Rare Earth - Fill Your Head (1969-1974 us, amazing classic rock r 'n' b, three cds box set, five studio albums plus outtakes and alternative versions)

This 2008 compilation puts Rare Earth's early Motown catalog back into print in one fell swoop with a three-disc package featuring remastered sound, new liner notes with full credits, and exact reproductions of the album's original art. Unfortunately, that means you have to spring for the whole set to get access to any one of the five for a physical copy, but there is always selective downloading.

While Rare Earth was never an A-list contender even during its salad days, the group, led by singing drummer Pete Rivera (nee Hoorelbeke) had many fine moments, not all of them collected on the various best-of sets already in print. As Motown's first foray into white rock, Rare Earth also became the name of the company's subsidiary label that they, along with a handful of mostly forgotten other acts (Toe Fat anyone?), recorded for.

Notes writer Scott Schinder's five-page recap of the Earth's 1969-1974 run, which also includes an interview with Rivera, provides excellent background information along with anecdotes and reminiscences from its founding member and featured voice. Nine difficult-to-find bonus tracks (edited singles, non-album A- and B-sides) are somewhat incongruously tacked onto the end of disc one (which also includes the Get Ready debut) instead of being sequenced next to the album they are associated with. Otherwise, this set, with its rounded tombstone packaging that mimics the unique shape of many of the first Rare Earth label releases, is a straightforward presentation of the five records, along with liner notes and even inner record sleeve reproductions.

These records established Rare Earth as rugged, working semi-stars. They persevered through hard touring, a few top-notch songs such as One World's "I Just Want to Celebrate" (written for them by Nick Zesses and Dino Fekaris), and imaginatively rearranged rock and R&B covers, to attain at least a footnote in pop music history. At its best, generally on the Norman Whitfield productions of his own compositions such as Ecology's "(I Know) I'm Losing You" and the Ma album, Rare Earth personified a style of blue-eyed, jammy psychedelic soul that, while dated, still holds up as unique enough to have resulted in more hits than the group actually achieved. Since its most recognizable music is well represented on Motown's impressive two-disc Anthology:

The Best of Rare Earth and other discs, this is for collectors who need everything from Rare Earth's most commercially and artistically successful years. As such it is a classy presentation of a band whose finest moments remain impressive, even occasionally innovative, but just short of influential.
by Hal Horowitz

Get Ready 1969
1. Magic Key 4:01
2. Tobacco Road 7:17
3. Feelin' Alright 5:10
4. In Bed 3:08
5. Train To Nowhere 3:27
6. Get Ready 21:35
Bonus Tracks Rare (Earth) Singles
7. Generation (Light Up The Sky) 2:47
8. Get Ready (Single Version) 2:50
9. (I Know) I'm Losing You (Single Version) 3:42
10.When Joanie Smiles 2:57
11.Here Comes The Night 3:29
12.Hey Big Brother 4:47
13.Love Shines Down 3:41
14.Chained 3:36
15.Fresh From The Can 5:18

Ecology 1970
1. Born To Wander 3:24
2. Long Time Leavin' 4:54
3. (I Know) I'm Losing You 10:58
4. Satisfaction Guaranteed 4:38
5. Nice Place To Visit 4:01
6. No. 1 Man 4:55
7. Eleanor Rigby 6:44
One World 1971
8. What'd I Say 7:17
9. If I Die 3:33
10.The Seed 3:35
11.I Just Want To Celebrate 3:44
12.Someone To Love 3:49
13.Any Man Can Be A Fool 3:38
14.The Road 3:38
15.Under God's Light 4:51

Willie Remembers 1972
1. Good Time Sally 2:55
2. Every Now And Then We Get To Go On Down To Miami 3:14
3. Think Of The Children 5:39
4. Gotta Get Myself Back Home 3:03
5. Come With Your Lady 5:49
6. Would You Like To Come Along 2:51
7. We're Gonna Have A Good Time 3:28
8. I Couldn't Believe What Happened Last Night 12:38
Ma 1973
9. Ma 17:22
10.Big John Is My Name 4:25
11.Smiling Faces Sometimes 6:03
12.Hum Along And Dance 5:18
13.Come With Me 4:46

Rare Earth
Get Ready 1969
* John Parrish - Trombone, Bass Guitar, Vocals
* Gil Bridges - Sax, Tambourine, Vocals
* Kenny James - Organ, Electric Piano, Vocals
* Rod Richards - Guitar, Vocals
* Pete Rivera - Drums, Vocals

Ecology 1970
* Gil Bridges - Flute, Saxophone, Tabla, Vocals
* Eddie Guzman - Conga
* Kenny James - Organ, Keyboards
* John Persh - Bass, Tambourine, Vocals
* Rod Richards - Guitar, Vocals
* Pete Rivera - Drums, Vocals

One World 1971
* Pete Rivera - Drums, Lead Vocal, Percussion
* John Parsh - Bass, Vocal
* Gil Bridges - Woodwinds, Vocal, Percussion, Flute
* Ray Monette - Guitars, Vocal
* Mark Olson - Keyboards, Vocal
* Ed Guzman - Conga, Percussion

Willie Remembers 1972
* Pete Hoorelbeke - Drums, Percussion, Lead Vocal
* Gil Bridges - Woodwinds, Percussion, Vocal
* Mike Urso - Bass Guitar, Vocal
* Ray Monette - Lead Guitar
* Mark Olson - Keyboard, Vocal
* Ed Guzman - Congas, Percussion

Ma 1973
* Gil Bridges - Flute, Saxophone, Vocals
* Peter Hoorelbeke - Drums, Percussion, Lead Vocals
* Ray Monette - Lead Guitar, Vocals
* Mark Olson - Keyboards, Vocals
* Mike Urso - Bass, Vocals
* Edwin Guzman - Congas, Timbales

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