Friday, 17 March 2017

"Watch" by SEATRAIN (January 2017 Beat Goes On CD Reissue and Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...Bloodshot Eyes..."

Marin County's SEATRAIN made little impact in the UK and "Watch" - their 4th studio album and first/last for Warner Brothers in 1973 - ploughs a poor man's path between substandard America and England Dan and John Ford Coley. It's a strictly 3-star album – but it has at last been given a proper 5-star audio reissue by England's Beat Goes On. Here are the Californian details...

UK released 27 January 2017 - "Watch" by SEATRAIN on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1262 (Barcode 5017261212627) is a straightforward CD Reissue of their 1973 9-track album on Warner Brothers Records that plays out as follows (39:56 minutes):

1. Pack Of Fools [Side 1]
2. Freedom Is The Reason
3. Bloodshot Eyes
4. We Are Children Too
5. Abbeville Fair
6. North Coast [Side 2]
7. Scratch
8. Watching The River Flow
9. Flute Thing
Tracks 1 to 9 are their 4th studio album "Watch" - released March 1973 in the USA on Warner Brothers BS 2692 and Warner Brothers K 46222 in the UK. Engineered by Jay Messina and Produced by Buell Neidlinger - it failed to chart in either country.

ANDY KULBERG - Bass, Flute and Lead Vocals
PETER WALSH - Guitar, Bass and Vocals
LLOYD BASKIN - Keyboards, Clavinet and Vocals
BILL ELLIOTT - Keyboards, Accordion and ARP Synth
JIM ROBERTS - Lyrics, Vibes, Ideas

Sha Na Na - Party Vocals on "North Coast"
Sandra Lee - Duet Vocals on "Freedom Is The Reason"
Bob Stuart on Tuba and Bill Keith on Banjo - "Bloodshot Eyes"

The outer card slipcase is classy looking and the 16-page booklet affords lyrics, full musician credits and a new essay on the band's history by noted writer JOHN O'REGAN. He talks of their 2nd and 3rd albums on Capitol Records being produced by none other than George Martin of Beatles fame. But the big news for fans of this album (long since absent from any decent reissue) is stunning new audio care of a High Definition transfer from real tapes by BGO's resident Audio Engineer ANDREW THOMPSON. This CD sounds amazing and for lovers of the album will be a must buy.

I wish I could say the same about the music. Of all the first four Seatrain albums that cluttered up bargain bins for decades - this non-charter was the most common and it’s painfully obvious why. Setting aside two wildly useless cover versions acting as filler on Side 2 - Bob Dylan's "Watching The River Flow" and Al Kooper's "Flute Thing" instrumental from his days with The Blues Project - the other seven band originals (lyrics by Jim Roberts) are insipid sub Americana tunes without the melodies to keep you interested.

A genuine moment of Soulful Rock though comes in the form of the Kulberg/Roberts composition "Freedom Is The Reason" - but cheese like "We Are Your Children Too" and the cod Vaudeville of "Bloodshot Eyes" are hard to take. Lovers of funky instrumentals by Rock acts with a Soulful tip in them – will dig the hippy Flute and Bongo vibe of "Flute Thing" too - a track that was featured on the Rhino 4CD Box Set for Funky Rare Grooves from the WEA Archives called "What It Is!" in 2006.

This is a beautiful sounding CD for sure - one in a long line from England's Beat Goes On. I just wish I could say the music was worth it. Still - fans of the album and Seatrain in general will absolutely need to own this...

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