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Friday, February 17, 2023

Wilderness Road - Sold For The Prevention Of Disease Only (1973 us, elegant roots rural rock, smart lyrics with satirical mood, 2013 remaster)

A rootsy group from the Chicago scene, but one with a fair amount of wit, too – a subtle political agenda that's buried a bit beneath more rocking modes, and which really helps set these guys apart from the pack! The songwriting is often pretty smart, at least from a social perspective – couched amidst riffs and rhythms that are more mainstream overall, yet which know how to underscore the right punch of the group's intentions. A key illustration of this fact is the longer "Gospel" track – kind of a mini-suite aimed at Christian radio.

Back in 1973, naming an album after a slogan found on condom dispenser wasn’t exactly a smart commercial move—but what do you expect from a band whose members met at the Second City club in Chicago? Wilderness Road’s Warren Leming and Nate Herman were satirists and fixtures on the local bluegrass scene when they started the group to raise funds for the Chicago Consipiracy Trial in the aftermath of the 1968 DNC convention; after making self-titled concept album for Columbia, they signed to Warner-Reprise and made this cult classic record in 1973. 

Though the front cover displayed them as futuristic glam-rockers, Wilderness Road actually played a mutant hybrid of mountain music, psychedelia, rock, country and avant political satire, sort of Chicago’s answer to Country Joe & the Fish and the Fugs…except they might have been funnier. For example, Sold… includes “The Gospel,” a suite of songs, fake commercial and spoken word interludes pointedly parodying religious radio, while “The Authentic British Blues” is a devastating takedown of the white boy blues genre.

1. Pot Of Gold (A. Harvey) - 3:05
2. Rock Garden (Nate Herman) - 4:00
3. A.M.A. (Warren Leming) - 3:31
4. The Gospel/What Key Does The Gold Lord Sing In?/Sunday, Sunday/Mouth Jive/H (Nate Herman, Warren Leming) - 7:54
5. Reno (Nate Herman, Andy Haban, Warren Leming) - 3:57
6. Bored (Nate Herman) - 5:09
7. Long Winter (Nate Herman) - 4:01
8. The Authentic British Blues (Nate Herman, Warren Leming) - 4:17

Wilderness Road
*Warren Leming - Electric, Acoustic Guitars, Banjo, Vocals, Moon Lute 
*Nate Herman - Lead Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards, Runa 
*Andy Haban - Bass, Vocals 
*Tom Haban - Drums, Vocals
*Venetta Fields - Vocals 
*Jim Horn - Alto, Tenor, Baritone Saxophones
*Clydie King - Vocals 
*Rick Mann - Pedal Steel
*Don Menza - Tenor Saxophone
*Shirlie Matthews - Vocals