Dave Meniketti - lead guitar, lead vocals; Joey Alves - rhythm guitar, vocals; Phil Kennemore - bass, vocals; Leonard Haze - drums
Yesterday & Today, a hard rocking party band based out of Hayward, California, were early pioneers of the DIY philosophy, literally creating their own scene by renting auditoriums, promoting their own concerts and booking their opening acts. They eventually created such a large local following that they were noticed by Journey's management, and a record deal with London Records soon followed. The band's self-titled debut album was released in 1976, with the single "Alcohol" selling moderately well on the West Coast. The band's follow-up album also failed to penetrate beyond the West Coast market, due in no small part to the demise of London Records. Following several years without a label, the band trimmed their name down to Y & T and were signed to A & M, where they achieved greater commercial success into the 1980s.
This Record Plant performance, before a small in-studio audience in 1974, will be a revelation to long time fans, as it captures the band early on, long before they had a record deal. Containing early live versions of much of the material included on their first album, as well as a smattering of obscure songs and a few destined for their second album, this recording serves as a slice of early Y & T history.
Led by singer/songwriter/lead guitarist, Dave Meniketti, they were just a little ahead of their time, earning the respect of contemporaries like Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Motley Crue and Whitesnake, but seemingly always relegated to opening act status. Much like those bands, they excelled at a raw, in-your-face guitar sound, courtesy of Meniketti, but their music also contained elements of pop melodies and a British glam-rock bent, even though they were all California natives. The kickoff song, "Tonight," establishes a hard rockin', "let's party and have a good time" atmosphere that initially caught the attention of the band's early following.
Fans of Y & T's debut album will be intrigued by these earlier takes on "Beautiful Dreamer," "My Heart Plays Too," "Game Playing Woman" and of course their early regional hit, "Alcohol," all of which turned up on their first album nearly two years later. All the elements of the group's sound were clearly already in place and these songs feature blazing guitar solos from Meneketti and remarkable drumming from Haze, who in conjunction with Kennemore, often propels this music. The band seems to have a better grip on dynamic control than most of the hard rock/early metal bands of the era and as a result, their music is less monotonous and generally more intriguing. Listening to the way Meniketti's solos seem to escalate in intensity within the framework of the songs, one may wonder why it took so long for this group to achieve greater recognition.
In addition to "Feelin'" and "Baby Blue," two early songs that seem to have been relegated to obscurity, they also perform embryonic versions of "Road" and "Stargazer," two songs that wouldn't see official release until nearly four years later, on their 1978 Struck Down LP.
For those who saw Yesterday & Today in and around San Francisco, where they were a ubiquitous presence in the mid-1970s, this outstanding Record Plant recording will bring back fond memories. Those who loved the band's early albums will find these performances an important addition to their early history, when they were still young, hungry and full of passion.
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