Fingletoad, Strange & Siho

Mazzola

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Fingletoad, Strange & Siho were a country-rock trio that made two trips into the studio in 1969 (sans Siho) and 1970, possible for posterity purposes only. Back in the day, less than 100 acetates were pressed to document each event, and the sessions remained unreleased until a double CD, Mazzola, was produced in 2006. Both recordings consist of all original compositions and bear the influence of genre groups of the day, such as the Band, Grateful Dead, Flying Burrito Brothers, and Neil Young -- who had the biggest affect on the young songwriters. The material is, for the most part, quite good, and the trio often transcend their influences, as when adding Beatlesque basslines or Hendrix-like flash. Their harmonies are strong as well, especially on the acoustic "City Woman," which sounds like a Grateful Dead tune augmented by the Beatles. A stray lyric is cringe-worthy from time to time (or altogether embarrassing), but the three show a lot of depth and maturity, too, making up for any clumsiness. There isn't a big difference in the sound of the sessions, even though Siho did not participate in the first (the second disc here) and the sway of both folk and electric blues is more apparent on the initial recording date. With that in mind, the complete works could have easily fit on one CD, and the decision to separate them is perplexing and unnecessary. Still, fans of early country-rock who are looking for something obscure and out of the ordinary will find Mazzola worth the higher-than-necessary price tag.

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