Rare Earth

Band Together

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The difference with this album and Rare Earth's previous release in 1978 is that the Grand Slam LP featured a Barry Gibb and Albhy Galuten tune with no input from those two individuals. The addition of Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, and Robin Gibb on "Warm Ride" off this quick follow-up features the Bee Gees singing, and it's that extra attention which made this the last of Rare Earth's half-a-dozen 1970s hits. What was really needed, though, was production from Barry, Robin, Maurice, and their partners in crime, Karl Richardson and Albhy Galuten, skills which might've brought the single "Warm Ride" further up the charts. As with the Grand Slam disc, Band Together is held back by two things: John Ryan's pedestrian production work and Rare Earth's failure to reinvent themselves. Unlike the brilliant Norman Whitfield's intuitive skills which sent "(I Know) I'm Losing You" to the Top Ten in 1970, Ryan has the band merely emulating Motown. Both the exquisite composition "You" and "Love Is What You Get (If Love Is What You Give Me)" come off like a cover band playing in the arena created by Berry Gordy. It's somewhat listenable, but just not as original as that refreshing sound which ripped radio open when "Get Ready" blasted into the Top Five in the spring of 1970. On the Ecology album, the band did an almost Vanilla Fudge-style version of "Eleanor Rigby" with soul, and that definiteness of purpose is missing here. What Band Together cries out for are original Rare Earth renditions of early Motown classics. There's funk here, elements of disco, and a very play-it-safe atmosphere. Nothing jumps out at you and grabs you like their first two hits. Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter's "Love Music" finds its way onto the disc, but it's stuck in some John Travolta rut, and while the band can still groove, the grooves are somewhat vacant. Those innovations that brought group identity to faceless musicians needed a duet with ex-labelmate Kiki Dee or another impressive jump outside the norm to make their last bid a memorable one. Yes, the involvement of the Bee Gees puts them further in the history books, but like Tavares, who got the same endorsement, the two songs from these two different groups' 1978 outings couldn't get over the hump and languished at the bottom levels of the Top 40 charts. For the enormous boost Rare Earth got by involving themselves with the Gibbs, they needed a bit more enthusiasm. Jerry Zaremba's "Dreamer" would have been a nice follow-up hit had it only a bit more in the production values department, while the final track, "Mota Molata," has the most to offer next to "Warm Ride." It is an original by singer Peter Hoorelbeke, keyboardist Mark Olson, guitarist Ray Monette, and producer John Ryan. Had this Santana style been the rule on the album rather than the exception, Band Together might have had a shot. The LP cover has the boys standing on an illuminated square from which they vanish on the back. Very appropriate because this Rare Earth unfortunately sounds like a band whose best days were behind them.

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