Named for a ranger lookout in Cades Cove, Knoxville country-rock act Rich Mountain Tower found some national success in the 1970s. With David Carr on lead guitar, William “Sandy” Garrett on bass and vocals, Doug Moisson on lead and pedal steel guitar, Dana Paul on 12-string acoustic guitar and vocals, and Bob Tucillo on drums, the band gained popularity playing in Knoxville clubs like Bradley’s Station, the Place, the Longbranch, and Yosamite [sic] Sam’s before getting their break following a show in Nashville.
"Rich Mountain Tower's debut self-titled album, released in the fall of 1971, combines southern rock with acoustic ballads and psychedelic flourishes to create a sound well ahead of its time. Originally issued in quadrophonic sound, it's a superb recording that shows just what a fine and underrated band this Tennessee quintet was.
Really, though, these folks are mainly anchored in psychedelic folk, with a driving, rock rhythm and lots of jangly guitars and Southern-style slide balancing out the nascent twang. The lyrics are very hippie-dippie and diffuse, spacy, celebratory stuff about being alive and in nature, sung in airy harmonies with pedal steel an 12-string guitar providing sweet counterpoint -- all in all, a very Byrds-y sound.
A few Nashville studio pros were brought in to beef up the band's sound -- Charlie McCoy lays down a few hot harmonica riffs, and steel player Weldon Myrick adds gorgeous accompaniment throughout. There's not a lot on here that I would call "country," as opposed to rock, and a few songs may get irritating if you're just in search of country sounds, although for psych/folk-freak fans this record is a real treat. A mixed bag, but a great document of its time.
1. Uncle Bob White - 5:08
2. Circle Sky Moon Mix (Randy Haspel, Tom McNamee) - 4:14
3. Thank You, Maggie - 3:47
4. If You Don't Look Back (Randy Haspel) - 3:13
5. Our Passage Home - 3:37
6. He Ain't Got No Color, Boys (Bob Tuccillo, Dana Paul, David Carr, Sandy Garrett) - 4:06
7. Song Of The Sea - 2:54
8. The Same Thing Applies To Me That Applies To You - 3:51
9. One Last Farewell - 2:39
10.Marie - 2:32
All songs by Dana Paul except where stated.
The Rich Mountain Tower
*Dana Paul - 12 String Guitar, Keyboards, Lead Vocals, Harmonica
*David Carr - Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
*Sandy Garrett - Bass, Vocals
*Randy Haspel - Guitar, Vocals
*Bob Tuccillo - Drums, Percussion
*Lamonte "Skip" Ousley - Congas, Percussion
*Charlie McCoy - Harmonica
*John "Hoffy" Hoffmann - Banjo
*Sonny Pitman - Bass
*Weldon Myrick - Steel Guitar
*Don Tweedy - Moog Synthesizer, String Arrangements