Now, anyone willing to go one step further in seeking out Spooky’s recording from ‘69 (as I just did), will see that Priest did very little to it, and that the original boasts very much the same arrangement and haunting atmosphere.
Which is to say, it’s a helluva song; so you may be surprised to learn that the unchallenged pièce de résistance on Spooky Two is the colossal “Evil Woman”: a ten-minute sexual exorcism, where singers Gary Wright (*) and Mike Harrison trade lines over an ungodly heavy blues-rock as potent as any other spawned during this fertile era.
In fact, this wholesale reworking of a song by Larry Weiss has a lot in common with Led Zeppelin, so maybe Spooky Tooth’s only mistake was failing to credit it to themselves, as Page and Plant might have done.
Anyway, as for the rest of the LP: most songs explore soulful strains of Americana (like The Band with a backing gospel choir), as evidenced by “Feelin’ Bad” and “Lost in My Dream,” but first song “Waitin’ for the Wind” flips that script with simple power chords to excellent, somber effect.
So perhaps the final things you need to know about Spooky Tooth are that they were one of those rare bands containing two keyboardists, and that lineup instability quickly doomed their chances of long-term success, even though they hung around for serval years and albums.
* I didn’t realize until now that this is the same Gary Wright who later enjoyed mega-MOR success with “Dream Weaver” – YEEESH!
Formed in Memphis in 1968 by Baker, who’d fronted local faves The Blazers, the initial line-up evolved to include drummer Durham, who’d been with The Group and The Rapscallions. Produced, written and arranged by Don Nix (ex-Mar-Keys and Paris Pilot) in Memphis, Moloch is an excellent blues rock album with some sound effects, noises and superb acid guitar solos by Lee Baker. Their single was recorded after the album with a later line-up and is extremely rare………
Moloch emerged from the fertile musical scene in Memphis, Tennessee, in the year 1969. Formed by guitarist Lee Baker (guitar, backing vocals), Phillip Durham (drums, backing vocal), Fred Nicholson (keyboard), Steve Spear And Gene Wilkins (vocals), toured alongside the MC5 and the Stooges and were offered the opportunity to make an album for the local company Stax in 1970. Recorded in the legendary Ardent studio with producer Don Nix (producer of Lonnie Mack, Furry Lewis, Freddy King, Albert King, Delaney & Bonnie, Isaac Hayes, The Staple Singers and others, and often credited as one of the leading architects of "Memphis Sound ”), although most of the songs were written by Nix (including the original version of Goin ‘Down, which later became a hit re-recorded Eric Clapton, Freddie King, Deep Purple, Pearl Jam among others) the sound is unmistakable , And brings influences from the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Blue Cheer, as well as blues musicians such as Mississippi Fred McDowell, Sleepy John Estes and Bukka White (all of whom Baker had previously played in the legendary Memphis Country Blues Festivals of the late 60’s) .
The album was a triumph, but could not sell, which led the band to separate in 1971.
The following year, Baker would mount another version of Moloch (with bassist Michael Jones after playing with the Talking Heads) and released an EP on a small local label called Booger. The highlight of the guitar was even more perverse than the LP, but was ostracized from the start. Baker went on to play with Alex Chilton (whose Big Star was undergoing a Moloch-like fate at another Stax branch, Ardent), contributing his legendary guitar to LP Third / Sister Lovers and Flies On Sherbet, then to Neutrons with Friends Jim Dickinson, Selvidge Sid and Jimmy Crosthwait, became known as “the greatest guitarist you’ve ever heard of”
He was still prominent in the Memphis musical scene when he was cruelly murdered in September 1996, and it is to be hoped that this reissue will bring this astounding guitarist to a wider audience. Moloch is a fusion of blues rock, hard and psychedelia. The record is one of the wildly eclectic instant stuff coming out of Stax, Ardent, Sam Phillips, and the American studios in Memphis in the late 1960s and 1970s….by….Hard Vacas…. Produced by Don Nix (widely credited as a key architect of the “Memphis Sound”), this hard-hitting collection of bluesy Acid Rock first appeared on Stax subsidiary Enterprise in 1970. Featuring the outstanding guitar playing of the late Lee Baker (later to play with Alex Chilton) and the original version of “Going Down” (covered by Freddie King, Jeff Beck, JJ Cale and others), the album makes its CD debut here, complete with two rare bonus tracks, and is an essential purchase for all fans of blues-influenced rock and roll. Fallout. 2007…….. Yeah, I give this 'set’ 5-stars… it’s a classic; a gem; a diamond in the rough of blues-rock endeavors; oh, & by the way, it KICKS ARSE! As for the whiney-dork who slammed this jewel; wonder if he 'listens’ like he reads; said someone claimed Lee was better than Beck; they didn’t say that; said they played equal… he reads as pathetic as he listens. I was honored to play bass w/ Lee Baker in Moloch. At Ardent Studios here in Memphis, I recall Jimmy Page claim, “that’s the best white bluesman I ever heard”. We also burned Johnny Winter, 3 encores to his two, here at the Overton Shell. Blues-bands all-over bragged about doin’ Freddie King songs; Freddie did a couple of ours ( & came over to Lee’s when in town recording, for jams & gin). And as for that Rolling Stone review, the quote was, 'Moloch advertizes they eat the dead; by listening to their music we believe they do… they play the ugliest rock around’ Believe me, coming from that 'whitewash’ Stone mag, WE LOVED IT & FRAMED IT!!! Best review we enjoyed. So you want the real-deal blues deluxe (complete w/ Johnny Woods of Jimmy Reed kicks, blowin’ harp), you’ll be glad & satisfied you checked it out. (Freddie’s first question to me was, “Who’s singin’ that 'Same Old Blues’ tune”… another treat to pick up on, Philip Dale, our Drummer-vocalist, w/ pipes to make the Angels cry for blues-joy ~ L Changes 3/23/10…………… Guitarist Lee Baker (the late great) is a legend among musicians with any knowledge of Memphis’ rich and varied history. Those lucky enough to play with him will attest to that fact. Rockers, Delta bluesmen, country pickers, and other knowledgeable players passing through sought him out.
Produced and mostly written by Don Nix, Moloch is Baker’s first major presence on vinyl. It’s an amalgamation of rock, hard blues, psychedelia, and white boy soul – the Jimi Hendrix Experience meets the Box Tops with a bit of Furry Lewis influence thrown in for good measure. The record is a snapshot of some of the wildly eclectic stuff coming out of Stax, Ardent, Sam Phillips’, and American studios in Memphis in the late sixties and early seventies.
Although the album is now known for being the first time the song “Goin’ Down” appeared (also famously covered in Memphis by Jeff Beck), there were two major hinderences that prevented it from gaining any real popularity: first and foremost the album was released on a Stax subsidiary which made distribution a disaster. Secondly, Rolling Stone magazine slammed it.
As luck would have it, the review, appearing alongside a favorable Grand Funk review, was reprinted on a poster in Grand Funk’s Live Album! Grand Funk were not exactly critic’s darlings either– but at least they had Terry Knight running their show brilliantly in those first crucial years, while Moloch was basically an oddity on a subsidiary of a soul label, Stax.
As to the negative reviewer below who disses the Moloch album referencing the aforementioned review, I can only say this: Rolling Stone is your Bible? They have been notoriously wrong about many bands and albums over the years; giving, for example, Led Zeppelin’s early albums reviews that were so negative that the reviews themselves have become legendary! Zeppelin, fortunately, had a mastermind, Peter Grant, in their corner who knew how to get around the industry better than anyone before or since……ByG. Todd Jr………….. Musicians: Lee Baker - guitar, vocals Philllip Durham - drums, vocal Fred Nicholson - organ Steve Spear - bass Gene Wilkins - vocals
Tracklist A1 Helping Hand A2 Maverick Woman Blues A3 Outta Hand A4 Same Old Blues A5 Going Down A6 She Looks Like An Angel B1 Gone Too Long Featuring – Johnny Woods B2 Dance Chaney Dance B3 Mona B4 People Keep Talking B5 I Can Think The Same Of You B6 Night At The Possum