High Towers

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The Legends have gone down in larger history as, if anything, a footnote to the career of Dan Hartman, being the band he started with as a teenager and eventually ended up leading before finding wider success in the early '70s. This extremely fine two-disc retrospective, put together by the Arf Arf label and easily ranking with the best reissues and packages from Rhino or Bear Family, fleshes out the story much more thoroughly, becoming a document of a hot Central Pennsylvania act who reflected the rapid changes in music between 1965 and 1973. The second disc covers the earlier material, consisting of a live performance from 1965, a living room session the following year, and a couple of tracks from the Donshires, a band that provided later Legends member Joe Caloiero. It's enjoyable but not totally remarkable, the record of a solid cover band who knew how to please a crowd and obviously worked hard at making a great party atmosphere, drawing on Motown, British Invasion, L.A. rock, and other sounds and styles. The first disc is the real discovery, collecting the various singles the band made over the end of the '60s and early '70s along with a slew of unreleased numbers. For the most part this was when Hartman led the band, and it's little surprise his combination of psychedelic crunch with his lingering affection for heavy soul led to his link-up with Edgar Winter and further fame. Besides the enjoyable and quite melodic title track, other winners include "Fever Games" with its great guitar yowls, the solid rocker "Deception," and the backwards-tapes/good-time jam of "Marianne Summer." The detailed booklet provides plenty of interview moments with past members, the full scope of the band's often unstable history, photos, and drawings and a couple of great anecdotes showing the lingering affection for the band in its home area to the present day. [Minor track listing glitch: "Great Day" and "Sole Rider" are switched on the disc.]

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