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Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Siegel-Schwall Band - Sleepy Hollow (1972 us, solid chicago blues rock)

The Siegel-Schwall Band's 1972 album "Sleepy Hollow" was the progressive Chicago blues hand's second of five early '70s albums for the RCA-distributed Wooden Nickel label also the early home of Styx following four discs for Vanguard. 

It followed the quartet's 1971 self-titled album, which mixed studio and live tracks in essentially the same blues rock format of the preceding final Vanguard entry, "Siegel-Schwall "70."

But "Sleepy Hollow " was all studio and showed the increasing experimentation within the blues format that would mark the band's final few years though it should be notted that Siegel-Schwall continues to reunite periodically for concert appearances, with the great Sam Lay replacing the late Shelly Plotkin on drums.

The title track, then, seems to bear little resemblance to the Chicago blues form that the Vanguard Siegel-Selm all releases typified. Written and sung by Siegel, a piano and harmonica virtuoso of  remarkable invention and wit. The mellow tune was an appropriately lazy take on a relaxed rustic homestead  the complete opposite of the band's urban reality.

Other Siegel tunes included the fast-back "Somethin's Wrong," characterized by Siegel as a "blues polka": "Always Thinkin’ Of You Darlin'." Which offered a poppy slant on a standard blues shuffle; and "Hey. Billy Jean," written with Chicago Folkie Jim Post (formerly of Friend And Lover and "Reach Out Of The Darkness" fame) and demonstrating Siegel's "hoe-down blues" harmonica mastery.

Schwall. who met up with Siegel in 1964 when both were music students at Roosevelt t'niversity in Chicago, was also a unique blues stylist, with an electrified (Gibson B-25) acoustic guitar. Here he's represented by some of his most memorable songwriting. Especially the immortal "Sick To My Stomach." which delightfully documented the nausea the singer experienced when jealously imagining his girl being with someone else.

"Blues For A Lady" showcased his guitar prowess in the slow Blues format, while the shuffle of "You Don't Love Me Like That" juxtaposed Sehwall’s guitar work and Siegel's blues-harp play. Bassist Hollow Radford. who went on to play with Sun Ra, was ever the band's crowd-pleaser, thanks to his unrestrained soul on numbers like his lead track "I Wanna Love Ya."

But the most telling track of the set was Siegel's "His (Good Time Band." The tribute to an exemplary musician who just didn't care to compete commercially, but was content enough to sit back and play his music solely for the love of it. surely spoke for Siegel-Sehwall—which in the late ‘60s and early '70s virtually owned the Midwest, yet disbanded at the height of its popularity to pursue other interests.

Five of the nine tracks on "Sleepy Hollow" resurfaced last year on Varese Vintage's "The Very Best Of The Siegel-Schwall Band The Wooden Nickel Years (1971-74)." Subsequently, the entire Wooden Nickel Siegel-Schwall catalog was reissued by Wounded Bird Records. 

There are also two Vanguard label compilations of previous Siegel-Schwall recordings, including the comprehensive “ . . . Where We Walked 1966-70”
by Jim Bessman

1. I Wanna Love Ya (Rollo Radford) – 04:01
2. Somethin's Wrong (Corky Siegel) – 04:12
3. Sleepy Hollow (Siegel) – 3:33
4. Blues For A Lady (Jim Schwall) – 8:35
5. His Good Time Band (Siegel) – 3:59
6. You Don't Love Me Like That (Schwall) – 3:31
7. Sick To My Stomach (Schwall) – 2:23
8. Always Thinkin' Of You, Darlin' (Siegel) – 3:30
9. Hey, Billie Jean (Jim Post, Siegel) – 6:06

The Band
*Corky Siegel – Piano, Harmonica, Vocals
*Jim Schwall – Guitar, Vocals
*Rollo Radford – Bass, Vocals
*Shelly Plotkin – Drums

1971  The Siegel-Schwall Band

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