Frank Marino / Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush / Mohagony Rush

Live/Tales of the Unexpected/What's Next

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Mahogany Rush were always regarded as the poor relations of Rush, if they were thought of at all. In the U.S., they were regarded in certain markets (Detroit, Chicago, Kansas City) as true descendants of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, but in the mid-'70s, that's what everyone was looking for. Frank Marino, the precocious 17-year-old who founded and led Mahogany Rush, was born a Texan but was raised in Montreal, and formed this band with two men who were already in their thirties, Canadian bassist Paul Harwood and Hawaiian native Jimmy Ayoub on drums. Their story is perverse and fascinating and Marino is, even though not recognized as such, one of rock & roll's true characters. The three albums on this collection, on the U.K.'s excellent BGO imprint, represent the sixth, seventh, and eighth in the band's career, recorded and released in 1978, 1979, and 1980, respectively, and all of them charted in the Billboard Top 200. According to John Tobler's excellent liner notes, nine of the band's albums charted between 1974 and 1982. This is the mature band at work here, and Live kicks it off with tracks from studio albums such as World Anthem and IV and some choice covers. Next up is the surreal half-live, half-studio Tales of the Unexpected, which begins with the funky psychedelia of "Sister Change" before going off into a frighteningly close cover of Hendrix's version of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" (only the intro is different) and a tripped-out electric reading of Lennon and McCartney's "Norwegian Wood!" The rest of the album is offered at the beginning of disc two and it includes a slew of Marino "originals" that simultaneously worship at the Hendrix altar while taking into close consideration the blues-rock work of Jeff Beck, Cream, Pat Travers, and even Foghat. (Check "Down, Down, Down," with a direct rip of the main riff of Hendrix's "Manic Depression" as its verse and then a rip of the refrain from Beck's "Goin' Down!") The final album in the set, What's Next is more a straight-ahead hard/blues-rock effort with some killer guitar work by Marino on "Finish Line," a more than acceptable version of "Rock Me Baby," and a stellar and soulful rocker called "Something's Comin' Our Way." This was the album where Marino finally evolved into his own identity as a guitarist, songwriter, and arranger. It's one of the more underrated hard rock records of the 1980s. It's only lame track is a cover of the Doors' "Roadhouse Blues" that adds literally nothing to the original. Is this set a good investment? Let's face it, if you already dig Mahogany Rush, you need it because the sound is terrific. If you are student of rock history, this trilogy is one of its most forgotten chapters and needs to be heard to be believed, really.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 0:28
2 5:16
3 5:33
4 6:06
6 4:42
7 5:26
8 1:29
9 3:24
10 3:17
11 4:04
12 3:48
13 4:46
14 4:35
15 3:08
16 7:58
blue highlight denotes track pick