Good Dog Banned

Good Dog Banned

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Although it ran parallel with the back-to-basics feeling that permeated the early '70s, Good Dog Banned arrived at a distinctive strain of organic rock that was much more joyous and good-timey than many of their musicians-in-arms. Their one stab at rock & roll immortality, Good Dog Banned seems oblivious to any sense of anger at the "failure" of the '60s dream to take complete effect as of 1971. Whereas some '60s expatriates were decrying the cultural revolution, Good Dog Banned were singing "Things Ain't so Bad," heading down to the river and drinking wine. There is no nostalgia, no cynicism present. The band was untethered, ingenuous. Perhaps it could be viewed as rose-colored hippie denial, but in retrospect, the pure, unselfconscious charisma and the lack of piety that Good Dog Banned inject into their only effort makes it seem less of its time than other bands of this ilk. Still, a lot of love and togetherness are espoused in Good Dog Banned's lyrics (cynics beware), and the members do seem to have a tightness that only comes from "Livin' in Harmony," as they sing on the final song on the album. Each of the members take a stab at singing lead, and each is a solid vocalist, but it is Lee Marks' wonderful, soul-drenched voice (like Bob Mosley in his softer moments) that is the clear standout. The music has the same funky, loose ensemble playing -- from the sprinkling guitar chords on long groover "Smokestacks" to the steel pedal-led country-rock groove of "Rust & Decay" -- and the same old-time country-boy sunniness of the Band and same-period Grateful Dead, only with more prevalent saxophone that keeps the music from seeming overtly wistful or nostalgic, not throwback as much as laid-back. The album is not wholly consistent -- "Don't Burn Baby Grow" seems more silly than anything else, and a couple of the cuts inch somewhat too close to the inane boogie of Grand Funk Railroad -- but, on the whole, Good Dog Banned is draped in moonlit country soul.

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