Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Moby Grape
Truly Fine Citizen

Released 1969 on Columbia
Reviewed by banjo, 09/01/2006ce

I'm not in agreement with the going opinion on Moby Grape's post-1st LP output.

Their second, WOW, seems to be roundly accused of being a lesser release even if its music and production are bolder and, ahem, Wilder. In my opinion it's their best. It's a grooving album suggestive of wet San Francisco fog and little radiant bursts of folksy California sunshine. Featuring high watermarks of '60s rock like the brass-inflected 'Can't Be So Bad' or Bob Moseley's haunting 'Bitter Wind', it's profoundly baffling to me that this album gets the brush off. It's their 'Buffalo Springfield Again' (the one band the Grape sound like at times). I mention this so readers will understand where I'm coming from re the following review. I don't want anyone to be disappointed.

Indeed the album that seems to get dismissed completely by too many people is one of their very best: Truly Fine Citizen. Anyone who bases their opinion of this album solely on the two tracks represented on the awfully tinny 2CD comp. 'Vintage' is cheating themselves. Truly Fine Citizen was Produced by Bob Johnston (Dylan, Cohen, Dino Valente). It sounds virtually Live in Studio, a great 'hard pan' production: Jerry Miller in one channel playing absolutely phenomenal cosmic country - the rest of the band cooking off to the side. Peter Lewis' songs are magnificent. Probably only available on LP - which is a great thing: - it is one of the best sounding LPs ever recorded. In terms of mood and vibe, it's Moby Grape's 'Bull of the Woods' (which by contrast is fairly LO FI but kindred nonetheless).

The cover must've pissed undergrad politicos off: A smirking southern cop sitting at the door to the studio. That guy's a 'Truly Fine Citizen'? Well apparently he earned that title by making sure no one interrupted the boys while they smoked some pot (although the actual inspiration for the song was a medicine man the boys knew). The band themselves look really cool; shorter hair and neater dress than how other bands were looking at the time, much to their credit. The drag here of course is that Skip Spence and Bob Moseley are both missing. All thing's considered though, it's still classic Grape.

If you like great sounding guitar music; Well produced and well-played vibey stuff - Truly Fine Citizen is a great lost UNSUNG classic.

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