Tracy Nelson - vocals, piano; Wayne Talbert - vocals, keyboards; Powell St. John - vocals, harmonica; Ira Main - organ; Jance Garfat - bass; Herbert Tjp,as - guitar; George Rains - drums
Here we have a rare glimpse at the pre-first album lineup of Mother Earth, who performed between The Flamin' Groovies and headliners, Jefferson Airplane on this night. Recorded approximately a year before the release of Mother Earth's first album, this set allows one to hear them in their formative stages. Many of these songs never appeared on their albums, but the elements of blues, rock and gospel are already firmly entrenched in the group's sound. These sets clearly show that Mother Earth was one of the most diverse sounding Bay Area bands in 1967, playing with a tinge of psychedelia, but achieving an earthier, more authentically bluesy sound than many of their contemporaries.
This final set from the three-night run features a wide range of material, beginning with the funky rocker "Turn Your Truck Around" and continuing with the jazzy blues of Mose Allison's "I'm Not Talkin'." Though certainly not the focal point at this early stage of the band, some of the most enjoyable songs are those featuring the young Tracy Nelson on lead vocals - an artist who, despite her age, had a wealth of experience, having already worked with and learned from Charlie Musselwhite, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and Otis Span.
The epitome of the little girl with a big voice, Nelson belts out her lead vocal numbers with a raw authenticity. Check out "Cry On," a song that made it on the band's first album, and the set closing "Help Me Jesus," which is even better than the previous night. The gospel quality that was inherent to Nelson's voice gave Mother Earth a certain uniqueness among the Bay Area bands, and overtly shapes the sound on both of these numbers.
This set also includes "Stepping Stone," which overtly aims at psychedelia with melodramatic lyrics alluding to Spiderman and superheroes. This certainly sounds dated but is redeemed by a strange, intriguing instrumental coda toward the end.
The bluesy rocker "Stranger In My Own Hometown," featuring vocals by Powell St. John, is another highlight of the set. This song was one of the band's earliest recordings, featured on the Revolution movie soundtrack. Like many songs from 1967, it addressed Andrew's alienation from his Texas hometown. In true San Francisco style, it's not a bitter song and ultimately celebrates the freedom and acceptance many musicians were experiencing in San Francisco during that Summer of Love.
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