Yet another rock band that emerged out of the copious student population of countercultural Wisconsin, Tongue spent ten years developing into one of the most road-savvy ensembles in the state. But Keep on Truckin' was recorded near the beginning of their career, thereby capturing the band during the early peak of their powers. That power doesn't always manifest itself on their sole album, but it remains an enjoyable effort. There are significant similarities between Tongue and fellow Wisconsin band Tayles. Tongue doesn't dip into the good-time roll of Tayles' music too often, but they do have a blues-based, organ-heavy sound that is primarily earnest while verging at times on the musically whimsical, as on songs like "Get Your Shit Together" and the fabulous "Jazz on the Rag," a falsetto beauty like nothing else on the album. On the quickie country interlude "Slap Her Down Again Paw," they even show a comical side. There are bits of country-rock and jugband music (the title track cover of Donovan), and Jerry Garcia personally complimented the band on their version of Tim Rose's "Morning Dew." It is, indeed, a stellar effort, perhaps the best performance on the album, occasionally recalling the Bob Mosley folk-rock ballads of late-'60s Moby Grape. With lovely ringing acoustic guitars and suitably abrasive organ runs, the song is an epic accomplishment that gives some insight into the sort of prettiness Tongue was capable of. At other times the band utilizes some of the atmospherics of psychedelia to dress up its hard rock in an ambience that sounds more edgy than the songs actually are and despite the fact that the band shows itself perfectly adept at drumming up its own earthy brand of Midwestern psych on the momentous "The Earth Song" and the spacy acoustic ballad "The Prophet." Both songs are gorgeous from composition to execution and get at a kind of hazy acid rock that starts to show distinction from either the West Coast or the New York strains of psychedelia. The lead vocals have some of the homespun grit of the Band or Grateful Dead's Pigpen, and they ground the more cosmic qualities of the music, thus making it more palpable and accessible. Perhaps too accessible in the end. Although there is a lot to admire about Tongue, not a whole lot about their album sticks out. A good amount of the songwriting tends toward the unexceptional, and there isn't much production color added to bring out the best traits of the band. The music is certainly competent and the playing above average, and it is a good bet that Tongue was a pretty formidable live unit, but that doesn't come through on Keep on Truckin' strongly or often enough to make it more than a mildly interesting relic from the era.
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AllMusic Review by Stanton Swihart