The Fat James Band – Mountains In The Sky
Rotund Records And Whitewing Music
14 songs time – 70:40
Talk about your late review, this album by the Washington State band was recorded in 1998 and 1999, but for some reason it never saw release. After the passing of guitarist-singer Fat James(James Grosvenor) and bassist Tracy Arrington, the surviving members Dave Cashin(keyboards) and Chip Hart(drums) have approved it for release. Four bonus live in radio studio tracks have been tacked on to the original album. They were basically a rock and blues-rock outfit. James possessed a forceful set of pipes to go along with his energetic guitar skills. The band supplied a very sturdy foundation for him.
The specter of Jimi Hendrix hovers over a few of the selections. The title track “Mountains In The Sky” has a bit of Hendrix attitude in the lyrics and delivery, as well as Hendrix influenced guitaring. He unleashes distorted Hendrix-like guitar on “For The Love Of A Woman”. “Sweet Dreamer”, released as a single during the band’s life, is a tribute to Jimi. They also do an eleven minute plus version of “Little Wing”, as one of the bonus tracks, that employs Hendrix-like distorted guitar and spacey atmospherics. It uniquely has the piano also assisting with the melody in the prolonged introduction.
The sole instrumental “I’ll Remember You”, is mellow and melodic. James lets loose with a very dramatic guitar assault. Dave Cashin lays down some heavy organ against James’ guitar onslaught on “Witness”. Tracy Arrington provides “thump and pluck” bass on “Should’ve Gone Left”. “Should of turned left instead of turned right”. Tracy Arrington takes the lead vocal on the funky “Tell Me Why”.
The four added songs stand up just as well as the original album. They were recorded at KNKX in the Live Room in 1995. Fat James’ strong voice gives a good showing to Otis Redding’s “Try A Little Tenderness”. “We Both Got Lucky” bounces along as a nice rocker that benefits from complimentary guitar and piano. Next up, the short “She Really Likes Me” chugs along at a brisk pace.
It is sad that two of the band members aren’t amongst us to revel in the late release of their project, but chances are this music is rising up to them in heaven. In the annals of classic rock, this stands as a solid and well performed endeavor. Ok, it doesn’t rise to the ranks of the great purveyors of the genre, but it is nothing to be taken lightly.