The songs on Love Animal were recorded in 1967 and 1968 at New York's Apostolic Studios, the same time and place that the Velvet Underground and the Mothers of Invention were creating groundbreaking works. These eight songs (intended to be the 19-year-old drummer's debut as a leader, but unreleased when a satisfactory deal couldn't be found) aren't up to that level of inspiration, but they're still wildly exciting and forward-looking jazz from the period where free jazz was just beginning to take on rock & roll influences. Working with a core group that included guitarist Larry Coryell, bassist Steve Swallow, and pianist Keith Jarrett, Moses makes an unholy free jazz racket ("Wholy Moses"), channels the influence of his former employer Roland Kirk (an idiosyncratic but respectful post-bop version of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," featuring a fantastic tenor sax solo from Jim Pepper and some of Jarrett's best playing), and explores the fusion of jazz and rock -- well before Miles Davis got around to it -- on the blues-rocking vocal showcase "The Worms Crawl in Blues" and the psychedelic guitar freakouts of "Rock Fantasy." Moses even gets off a hypnotic Afro-Cuban groove on the hip-shaking, percussion-heavy "Ntumba's Raindance," the album's best track. It's a shame that Love Animal wasn't released back when it was recorded, as this energetic, noisy recording might have proven influential enough to keep jazz-rock fusion from becoming as sterile and deathly dull as it did -- at least, not quite so soon.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason