Steve Baron Quartet

The Mother of Us All

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The Mother of Us All Review

by Richie Unterberger

The only album by the Steve Baron Quartet was a fitfully interesting but uneven effort, jumping between Baroque folk-rock, moody early singer/songwriter rock, and jazz-tinged psychedelia, sometimes shifting between genres within the same track, sometimes embellished with light orchestration. At times, it's similar in some ways to other slightly precious folk-rock recordings of the mid- to late '60s by the likes of Donovan, Tim Buckley, Tim Hardin, the Blues Project at their most folk-rock-oriented, and Jake Holmes, though it's far less distinguished than Donovan, Buckley, or Hardin. At its furthest out, it employs sustained and extended blues-jazz-raga-rock guitar soloing slightly reminiscent of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band on "East-West," particularly on "Don't You Hate the Feeling" and (to a lesser extent) "Shadow Man." Yet other cuts could almost be the work of a different artist (or at least a different record), with "Goodbye Road" being the kind of piano-anchored Beatles-cum-Bacharach midtempo ballad that would do Harry Nilsson proud, "In the Middle" a breezy happy-go-lucky number with bubblegummy organ, and "Mr. Green" a dated critique of the life of the straight man. It's too eclectic and individual in approach to dismiss out of hand, but the songs aren't outstanding enough to make it a top-rank psychedelic obscurity.

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