Attacking a Straw Man

New Colony Six

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Attacking a Straw Man Review

by Bryan Thomas

1969's Attacking a Straw Man finds New Colony Six venturing even further into the realm of studio-born jazz and harmony ballad/soft rock, perhaps as a result of changes within the group's lineup and the fatuousness of pop music's ever-changing climate. Drummer Bill Herman (formerly of Aorta) had by then taken the place of original drummer Chick James, and keyboardist Chuck Jobes and guitarist Bruce Gordon (both of the local Chicago group the Revelles) had also joined after the departure of Wally Kemp and Craig Kemp. Like the self-titled album by then-similar-sounding local group Aorta, this album probably shouldn't be viewed as a psychedelic album, as it sounds closer to the lounge-ier jazz-inflected studio rock material of groups like Chicago, Ides of March, or Blood, Sweat & Tears. Three singles were issued from the album, but none produced a hit single, and due to the fact that group founder Ray Graffia also left just prior to the album's release in October, it's no wonder the band was in disarray and unable to promote it properly. (Graffia later formed the Raymond John Michael Band -- with former member Craig Kemp -- and recorded three singles for the Ivanhoe and London labels). After the release of this album, Les Kummel departed and New Colony Six leader Pat McBride retired from active participation, turning instead to production (in addition to producing future New Colony Six recordings, he worked with Trilogy at the Chicago-based Plynth Studios). In 1996, Mercury Japan released a CD entitled Best of New Colony Six, leading their fans to think it was a new greatest-hits collection when, in fact, it was a two-fer CD combining this album and their 1968 album Revelations. It was, at the time, the only compact disc of this material ever made available, though it is out of print.

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