Mother/Bow to the King

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Bang's sophomore album, 1972's Mother/Bow to the King, probably raised quite a few eyebrows in its day based on its curious cover art alone (is that "mother" herself serving the band a very large pie, and is that one dude wearing a cape?), but it was likely the two-for-one title intended to represent each of its vinyl sides that was most revealing of the young band's impending crisis of artistic direction. Until recently, the Philadelphia natives had been just another inexperienced power trio aspiring to become the next Cream, Mountain, or Grand Funk Railroad; then they were plucked out of obscurity by the latter band's parent label, Capitol Records, and asked to deliver in kind, so one can only imagine the sort of pressure and uncertainty tormenting the members of Bang once their first LP failed to set the world on fire. All that being said and notwithstanding the unnecessary sacking of drummer Tony Diorio, there was nevertheless a lot of musical continuity between that debut and the sophomore Mother/Bow to the King, both halves of which were still dominated by high-energy proto-metal exercises like "Humble," "Idealist Realist," and "Feel the Hurt," among others. The folky handclaps of "Mother," the funky guitar of "Keep On," and the proggy ambitions of "Bow to the King" showcased the band's broadening songwriting interests in a positive light; but it was Capitol's insistence that Bang cover the Guess Who's "No Sugar Tonight" (which needless to say stuck out like a sore thumb) that told the real and rather unhappy story behind these sessions -- a sign of bigger problems yet to come. For the moment, however, Bang seemed willing and able enough to tackle these various setbacks and compromises in the interest of developing its career for the long haul. Circumstances would sadly quickly scuttle any chance for them to achieve those long-term goals, but at least for the moment, Mother/Bow to the King saw Bang churning out a decent amount of fledgling heavy rock with which to gain a few new fans.

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