Wow/Grape Jam

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Wow/Grape Jam
Wowmobygrape.jpg
Cover art for Wow.
Studio album by Moby Grape
Released April 3, 1968
Recorded August 30, 1967 - February 5, 1968 ("Wow")
January 16 - February 13, 1968
("Grape Jam")
Genre Psychedelic rock, folk-rock, blues-rock, jam rock
Length 38:23 ("Wow") LP,
37:31 ("Grape Jam") LP
Label Columbia LP
CS 9613 (Wow)
MGS 1 (Grape Jam)
Sundazed CD
Producer David Rubinson
Moby Grape chronology
Moby Grape
(1967)
Wow/Grape Jam
(1968)
Moby Grape '69
(1969)
Cover art for Grape Jam.

Wow/Grape Jam is the second album by the rock band Moby Grape, released in 1968. It is different from most double album releases in that it was released as two different albums in separate covers, but packaged together and sold for only one dollar more than price of a single LP.[1]

Each album was later released as an individual CD with bonus tracks. Wow originally had a color gatefold sleeve, while Grape Jam had a color non-gatefold cover. This was Moby Grape's highest charting release in the U.S., peaking at #20 on the Billboard 200 album chart.[2]

The albums[edit]

Wow has a more heavily produced sound than the first Moby Grape album. String and horn arrangements were added to many of the songs by producer David Rubinson. Recording started in Los Angeles in late 1967, but most of the album was recorded in New York City in late 1967 and early 1968.[citation needed]

"Murder in My Heart for the Judge" is a blues rock tune written by drummer Don Stevenson that was later recorded by other rock musicians such as Lee Michaels, Three Dog Night and Chrissie Hynde. "Bitter Wind", written and sung by Bob Mosley, has remained one of the group's most popular songs. The acoustic version here contains an ending that includes harsh wind noises and backward vocals. Other stand-out tracks include Jerry Miller's rocking shuffle "Can't Be So Bad", Skip Spence's darkly comedic roots rocker "Motorcycle Irene" and Peter Lewis's lush ballad "He". The album also includes an electrified re-arranged version of "Naked, If I Want To", which was on the first album as an acoustic track. "Just Like Gene Autry: A Foxtrot" is the most unusual song on the album, a 1930s style tune written and sung by Spence. It was given a spoken introduction from Arthur Godfrey and cut onto the LP record at 78 RPM with added scratchy sound effects to give it an authentic period effect. (Early copies of 'Wow' omit the band's name from the record label, for unknown reasons.)

Grape Jam has been criticized for its rather loose and mostly improvised performances which contrast sharply with the heavily produced material on Wow. However Grape Jam is also notable in that it features guest appearances on piano by Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield. This studio album was recorded in New York City in January and February 1968. Skip Spence plays guitar on "Never" and piano on "Boysenberry Jam".[3] Peter Lewis does not appear on this album. "The Lake" is a strange combination of poetry submitted by a fan (Michael Hayworth, the winner of a KFRC San Francisco songwriting contest) and avant-garde psychedelic Musique concrète sound effects somewhat like side four of Freak Out! or "Revolution 9".[citation needed] The opening track "Never" is the best known song and has often been cited as the source for Led Zeppelin's song "Since I've Been Loving You", the opening lyrics, bluesy arrangement and some melodic elements are virtually identical.[4] The album was the inspiration for a number of other studio "jam" albums during the late 1960s and early 1970s.[citation needed] Later examples of this trend included Al Kooper's Super Session and the 3rd LP of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[5]
Robert Christgau B+[6]
Rolling Stone (1968) negative[7]
Rolling Stone (2007) 2.5/5 stars (Wow)
1.5/5 stars (Grape Jam)[8]

In a retrospective review for Rolling Stone magazine, music critic Robert Christgau felt that the album suffered from "Pepper-itis" because of how worthy songs such as "Can't Be So Bad" and "Murder in My Heart for the Judge" were diminished by superfluous effects such as horns, strings, stereo separations, and musique concrète.[8] Christgau went further on Grape Jam, referring to it as "hippie self-indulgence" and "wooden groove instrumentals".[8]

CD editions[edit]

The first CD of Wow/Grape Jam was a single disc edition on the San Francisco Sound label, owned by Moby Grape's former manager. It has edited versions of "Bitter Wind" and "Marmalade." It also omits "Just Like Gene Autry: A Foxtrot" and "The Lake". This version should be avoided[opinion] because of its mediocre sound quality and poor packaging. The group has never been properly compensated for this CD release.[citation needed]

Many of the songs from Wow also appear on the 2 CD collection Vintage: The Very Best of Moby Grape released in 1993. This collection includes "Foxtrot" and the complete acoustic version of "Bitter Wind". It also includes a few Wow out-takes, notably an alternate earlier version of "Bitter Wind" in a completely different rock arrangement.

The complete version of Wow was first released on CD in Japan in 1997. A newly remastered version was released by Sundazed Records on October 9, 2007 featuring a number of bonus tracks, most of which were previously unreleased. At the same time Sundazed also released separately the CD debut of Grape Jam in its entirety, with three previously unreleased bonus tracks.

Both Wow and Grape Jam were taken out of print on November 3, 2007, along with Moby Grape for reasons that were not officially specified.[citation needed] It has been widely circulated on the Moby Grape mailing list that former manager Matthew Katz, whom the band has been in legal battles with since the late 1960s, threatened to file a lawsuit against Sundazed claiming ownership of the albums' artwork.

Artwork[edit]

Artwork of the Wow album (design and illustration) was done by Bob Cato. Cato proposed a surreal image without any input from the band. Cato was influenced by various Victorian woodcuts. According to Peter Lewis the title was left off the cover because "What was in the box was more important than the box."[9] It was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Recording Package in 1969.

Track listing Wow[edit]

Side one[edit]

  1. "The Place and the Time" (Miller, Stevenson) - 2:07
  2. "Murder in My Heart for the Judge" (Miller, Stevenson) - 2:58
  3. "Bitter Wind" (Mosley) - 3:09
  4. "Can't Be So Bad" (Miller, Stevenson) - 3:41
    Complete LP and CD versions of the album conclude with a brief, spoken message from Skip Spence reminding the listener to change the turntable speed to 78 RPM for the next track.

(On a separate band of the LP, cut at 78 RPM)

  1. "Just Like Gene Autry: A Foxtrot" (Spence) - 3:05
    This track includes a guest appearance by Arthur Godfrey, who reads the introduction and plays ukulele.

Side two[edit]

  1. "He" (Lewis) - 3:36
  2. "Motorcycle Irene" (Spence) - 2:24
  3. "Three-Four" (Miller, Spence) - 5:01
  4. "Funky-Tunk" (Spence) - 2:11
  5. "Rose Colored Eyes" (Mosley) - 4:00
  6. "Miller's Blues" (Miller) - 5:22
  7. "Naked, If I Want To" (Miller) - 0:52

This is the actual playing order on the LP. Songs are listed on the back cover of the Wow LP without regard to running order. Consumers could not see the list of song titles as it was covered by the "Grape Jam" LP in the same shrink-wrapped package.

Bonus tracks on 2007 CD edition[edit]

  1. "The Place and the Time [Alternate Take]" (Miller, Stevenson) - 2:27
  2. "Stop [Demo]" (Lewis) - 2:24
  3. "Loosely Remembered" (Mosley) - 3:27
  4. "Miller's Blues [Alternate Take]" (Miller) - 5:23
  5. "What's to Choose" (Lewis) - 2:03
  6. "Seeing" (Spence) - 5:11
    • Tracks 14 - 18 previously unreleased

(total CD time for Wow 59:04)

Track listing Grape Jam[edit]

Side one[edit]

  1. "Never" (Mosley) - 6:16
  2. "Boysenberry Jam" - 6:03
  3. "Black Currant Jam" - 7:11

Side two[edit]

  1. "Marmalade" - 14:05
  2. "The Lake (M. Hayworth & Moby Grape) - 4:01

Bonus tracks on 2007 CD edition[edit]

  1. "Grape Jam #2" (previously unissued) - 9:24
  2. "Grape Jam #9" (previously unissued) - 9:14
  3. "Bags' Groove (previously unissued) - 13:24

(total CD time for Grape Jam 69:30)

Al Kooper plays piano on "Black Currant Jam". Mike Bloomfield plays piano on "Marmalade". Michael Hayworth wrote the lyrics and sings on "The Lake".

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Year Chart Position
1968 US Billboard 200 20

References[edit]

  1. ^ Billboard Magazine, April 20, 1968, advertisement, p5
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel. Top Pop Albums 1955–2001 (2001): 595
  3. ^ The back of the Grape Jam album cover.
  4. ^ http://www.musictimes.com/articles/6250/20140520/7-songs-other-than-stairway-to-heaven-that-led-zeppelin-stole.htm
  5. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/album/r44916
  6. ^ "Robert Christgau: Online Exchange, part 3". RockCritics.com. Archived from the original on July 26, 2015. Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  7. ^ Miller, Jim. "Wow; Grape Jam", Rolling Stone, San Francisco, 25 May 1968. page 20.
  8. ^ a b c Christgau, Robert (October 18, 2007). "Mixed Grapes: Moby Grape". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 25, 2013. 
  9. ^ Thorgerson, Storm; Powell,Aubrey (1999). 100 Best Album Covers: The Stories Behind the Sleeves. Dorling Kindersley. p. 153. ISBN 0-7513-0706-8.