Friday, 21 October 2016

"Three Man Army [aka "Mahesha"]/Three Man Army Two" by THREE MAN ARMY (2016 Beat Goes On 2LPs on 1CD - Andrew Thompson Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Space Is The Place..."

Sandwiched between late 60ts GUN on CBS Records, the early 70ts solo years of PARRISH and GURVITZ on Regal Zonophone and finally 1974's BAKER GURVITZ ARMY with GINGER BAKER on Vertigo is the completely overlooked interim group THREE MAN ARMY featuring the musical link between them all – the dynamic brother-duo of ADRIAN and PAUL CURTIS (or GURVITZ as they became known).

Three Man Army's rather good little debut album "A Third Of A Lifetime" from 1971 on B&C's short-lived offshoot label Pegasus Records has built up a serious rep amongst collectors – and was released in real style by England's Esoteric Recordings (part of Cherry Red) in July 2016 (see separate review).

Lovers of Classic Seventies Rock (especially hard-rocking bands like Montrose and Grand Funk Railroad) will be glad to see their following two platters on Reprise Records on CD again – the American issued "Three Man Army" [aka "Mahesha"] from 1973 and "Three Man Army Two" from 1974 - even if they aren't as immediate as the debut. Let's get to those big chunky chords...

UK released September 2016 (October 2016 in the USA) - "Three Man Army/Three Man Army Two” by THREE MAN ARMY on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1256 (Barcode 5017261212566) features 2 full albums Remastered onto 1CD with an added Bonus Track and plays out as follows (76:18 minutes):

1. My Yiddishe Mama
2. Hold On
3. Come On Down To Earth
4. Take Me Down From The Mountain
5. Woman
6. Mahesha [Side 2]
7. Take A Look At The Light
8. Can't Leave The Summer - Part I & II
9. The Trip
Tracks 1 to 9 are their second studio album "Three Man Army" - released October 1973 in the USA on Reprise MS 2150 (No UK Issue). It was issued in Germany in 1974 on Polydor 2310 241 as "Mahesha" with different artwork and has been reissued under that title on LP and CD since then.

10. Polecat Woman
11. Today
12. Flying
13. Space Is The Place
14. Irving [Side 2]
15. I Can't Make The Blind See
16. Burning Angel
17. In My Eyes
Tracks 10 to 17 are their third studio album "Three Man Army Two" - released June 1974 in the USA on Reprise MS 2182 and in the UK on Reprise K 54015.

18. Schoolgirl Queen - non-album track and the B-side to "Polecat Woman" in certain European territories (Portugal, Warner Brothers N-S-63-59). The 1973 UK 7" single of "Polecat Woman" on Reprise K 14292 had "Take Me Down From The Mountain" from the 1973 "Three Man Army" LP as its B-side.

PAUL GURVITZ - Bass Guitar and Vocals - TONY NEWMAN - Drums and Good Vibes - ADRIAN GURVITZ - Lead Guitar, Organ and Vocals

The card slipcase adds a touch of class to the reissue (as it does to all BGO releases) - the 12-page booklet features new liner notes from noted writer NEIL DANIELS who gamely tries to defend what some have described as sub Led Zeppelin Hard Rock while ANDREW THOMPSON has remastered both albums into High Def from real tapes and they sound huge and very powerful. Obvious comparisons like the no-prisoners hard rocking Rock 'n' Roll of Grand Funk Railroad and Montrose jump to mind - even early Blue Oyster Cult and Kansas.

Even if he has Jewish roots - the guitar instrumental cover of "My Yiddishe Mama" fades in and goes out again without any real impact. But things improve big time with the hard-rocking "Hold On" and the Kansas melodic "Come On Down To Earth" where Gurvitz lets rip on a hundred guitars like he's Ted Nugent on acid (the Remaster is huge). "Take Me Down From The Mountain" provides a rare moment of Three Dog Night Funk-Rock with a clever piano chug while "Woman" sounds like TMA are trying to channel their inner FREE and just about pulling it off. Side 2's "Mahehsa" has a lot going on in it - but again feels tired and even plodding despite its best efforts. At least "Take A Look At The Light" features great guitar work and a half-decent 'bickering' set of lyrics and verse melody. "Can't Leave The Summer - Part I & II" have nice melodic touches too amidst the huge riffage...

"Polecat Woman" reeks of Led Zeppelin circa "Houses Of The Holy" - a sort of cross between "Immigrant Song" and "Over The HIlls And Far Away" - all rapid guitars and slightly distant production. I can hear why someone thought it a 7" single even with that Bonzo copycat drum solo. The power ballad "Space Is The Place" even features strings in its 'ripe' six minutes - coming on like an over-zealous ELO. "I Can't Make The Blind See" is afflicted with the same syrup strings - and even though it has one of the prettiest bluesy melodies on the album - it's ruined by the overdone production. "In My Eyes" has a clever riff even when the wall of band voices threaten to swamp everything.

Neither album is great and despite the playing and the occasional moments of Hard Rock brilliance - these will be an 'acquired taste'. But fans should not hesitate - the presentation and audio is first rate...

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