Morly Grey

The Only Truth

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Based out of Alliance, OH (in the eastern part of the state about 30 miles from Akron, which is a polite way of saying in the middle of nowhere), Morly Grey were a power trio whose sole album, 1972's The Only Truth (the first and only LP from local label Starshine Records), has become a much-bootlegged collector's item among fans of classic psychedelia and prog rock. For years, folks speculated that The Only Truth actually dated from 1969, and the album's sound and approach do seem a bit behind its times; Cream and Blue Cheer are clear influences here (without Cream's heavier blues angles or Blue Cheer's monolithic ferocity), though one can also hear the shadows of latter-day acts such as Grand Funk Railroad and the James Gang in Tim Roller's guitar work, which shifts back and forth between gutsy power chords and graceful lead figures. The ghosts of a number of noted power trios can also be heard in the limber basslines of Mark Roller and drummer Paul Cassidy's firm rhythms and colorful fills (Bob LaNave took over for Cassidy on three cuts, including on the 17-minute title track). The album's artwork suggests that Morly Grey may have been an early Jesus Rock band, but a listen to The Only Truth confirms otherwise, as the band seem far more interested in slightly trippy ponderings about brotherhood, love, and the war in Vietnam than either God or His son. As is the case with so many prog/psych collectors items, the rarity of The Only Truth (and the fact it was created by an unknown band from a small Midwestern town) is what makes genre obsessives salivate as much as the music, and while this is no lost masterwork, it's strong, well-crafted stuff for the era. The production is simple but clear and straightforward, the interplay between the musicians is genuinely impressive, and if Tim Roller's guitar meanders on the extended tracks, his chops were very good and his bandmates were clearly a match for his talents. If Morly Grey had been on a bigger label or based out of a bigger town, they might have gone far, and The Only Truth deserves a wider hearing outside of collectors' circles.

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