West, Bruce & Laing – Why Dontcha (1972)

WestBruceLaing_WhyDontcha4 out of 5 Stars!

Why Dontcha is the first of two albums released in the early ’70s by the “supergroup” power trio composed of guitarist Leslie West and drummer Corky Laing (Mountain), who team with bassist/keyboardist Jack Bruce (Cream), for highly electrifying and straightforward Blues Rock with a touch of Soul and Heavy Psych.

On its debut album, each musician takes a turn at singing lead. But let’s face it, anyone familiar with the voices of these three individuals knows that none of them has the awesome skills to compete with the likes of Ian Gillan, Paul Rodgers, or Robert Plant, for example. Yet even through none of the guys has what I would consider supreme vocal talent, each musician at least holds his own and services the style of material quite admirably. Nevertheless, this is not an album for music-lovers merely seeking outstanding vocal prowess.

No, this album instead is for those who revel in wonderfully slick guitar, melodic bass, and thumping drums, and thankfully in this arena, each individual musician plays at the top of his game while working with his cohorts as a cohesive team. Indeed, some of the rousing and often-inspired performances on stomping and pounding tracks such as “The Doctor,” “Love is Worth the Blues,” “Third Degree,” “Pollution Woman,” “Turn Me Over,” and the scorching title tune often bring to mind the best work of both Mountain and Cream, and occasionally even surpass it, while a few other tunes—the piano-enhanced “Out into the Fields” and “While You Sleep”—offer up lighter moments, adding diversity to the package and showing the group’s potential.

Overall, fans of the individual musicians and their famous “parent groups” will certainly appreciate much of the material here, while devotees of other bands such as Cactus, Beck Bogert Appice, Humble Pie, Faces, and Free will also likely savor the often-fun and raucous material.

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Leslie West – Mountain (1969)

LeslieWest_Mountain4 out of 5 Stars!

Although Leslie West’s solo debut platter wasn’t released as an actual Mountain album (apart from its title), it could easily have been since it fits snugly into the band’s official catalogue of releases. Only when drummer Corky Laing and keyboardist Steve Knight joined up with Leslie West and bassist/keyboardist Felix Pappalardi (also performing on this album) did Mountain “officially” begin.

Regardless, the music here (especially tracks such as “Long Red,” “Dreams of Milk & Honey,” “This Wheel’s on Fire,” “Blind Man,” “Southbound Train,” and “Storyteller Man,”) should appeal to most Mountain fans. But unlike Mountain (the band), the album is more blues-oriented overall—more akin to Cream, for example—yet features West’s often-stunning fretwork and gruff, soulful voice, Pappalardi’s muscular and melodic bass lines, along with enough attitude and swagger to make it one of my favorites among West’s numerous solo releases.

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