Granicus

Granicus

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Cleveland's enigmatic Granicus recorded just one eponymous LP before fading into rock & roll oblivion, but boy, it's an absolute gem! Quietly released by RCA in 1973, Granicus is truly an album out of time -- especially its own -- which perhaps explains its eventual commercial failure. Years on, the record acts as a veritable time capsule, taking the listener back to that tenuous transition point where late-'60s progressive rock and experimental psychedelia finally gave way once and for all to what is now considered the classic '70s hard rock sound. Indeed, it's this convoluted transformation process that simultaneously informs the album with its edgy, nervous energy and helps explain its mysteriously lasting appeal. Elements of the old ways pervade the wistful interlude "Twilight," the prog-tastic "Nightmare," and the 11-minute freakout "Prayer," while ballsy hard rockers like "You're in America" and "When You're Movin'" reflect the new world order imposed by the church of Led Zeppelin. Somewhere in between, an optimum balance is struck by excellent single "Bad Talk," the scorching, self-affirming tirade of "Cleveland Ohio" (where singer Woody Leffel scats his way through every insult ever aimed at his hometown's citizens: "Uncool, unheavy, ungroovy, unfunky, unhip, greaseball!"), and the amazing hard boogie workout that is closer "Paradise." As for the bandmembers, their technical prowess and taut interplay drives all of the above into truly impressive realms of inspiration, and with his piercing shrieks and bluesy falsetto, Leffel is a positively eerie sonic precursor to Rush's Geddy Lee. Rock & roll history may have dealt them a losing hand in the end, but there'll always be a place in musical anthropologists' hearts for both Granicus the band and Granicus the album.

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