Best of Sea Level

Best of Sea Level

by Sea Level
     
 

The band Sea Level, er, rose and fell within a comparatively brief period during the mid- to late '70s, issuing a handful of albums beginning in 1977 with the finest jazz-rock -- seasoned with R&B, Southern soul, and funk -- to emerge from Macon, Georgia in the wake of the Allman Brothers Band butSee more details below

Overview

The band Sea Level, er, rose and fell within a comparatively brief period during the mid- to late '70s, issuing a handful of albums beginning in 1977 with the finest jazz-rock -- seasoned with R&B, Southern soul, and funk -- to emerge from Macon, Georgia in the wake of the Allman Brothers Band but moving toward shorter songs and comparatively stiff disco-tinged beats as the '70s drew to a close. With the release of debut album Sea Level and sophomore outing Cats on the Coast, both in 1977, the band seemed to be on a rapid ascent. The following year's On the Edge also had its moments, but signaled that the band's peak may already have been reached, and indeed 1979's Long Walk on a Short Pier, the band's weakest album in its Capricorn Records catalog, went unreleased in the United States until 1998. Tracks from these four albums were selected for the 1990 Polydor single-disc collection Best of Sea Level, and given the band's range (for good and ill), the compilers had their work cut out for them. They did an admirable job, but as is often the case on compilations like this, the compulsion to represent all four Capricorn albums and their stylistic predilections resulted in some questionable inclusions and exclusions. The debut disc's instrumentals "Rain in Spain" and "Tidal Wave" from the Chuck Leavell-Lamar Williams-Jimmy Nalls-Jaimoe quartet are first-rate, as are "Storm Warning" and "Midnight Pass" from Cats on the Coast. As for the vocal tracks, the swampy Leavell feature "Nothing Matters But the Fever" from the debut is an essential inclusion, as is singer/saxophonist Randall Bramblett's "That's Your Secret" from the sophomore, which manages to fit the term "agonizing reappraisal" and a reference to wrestler Dusty Rhodes into a winding yet catchy tune that was the closest thing to a Sea Level "hit." The collection also features three Bramblett songs from On the Edge, "King Grand," "Living in a Dream," and "This Could Be the Worst"; all three first appeared in arguably superior versions on Bramblett's 1976 sophomore Polydor album Light of the Night, but it's good to have them here. However, any of the remaining tracks on this best-of could have been shelved to make room for the stunning two-part instrumental "Cats on the Coast," with Nalls' slide approaching Duane Allman territory and Bramblett's soprano sax, in a thrilling call and response, answering him at an even higher level, before the entire band crashes in and the Jaimoe-George Weaver percussion tandem takes it all out under a flurry of simulated seagull cries. And on Cats on the Coast, the penultimate title track was followed by the lovely coda "Song for Amy," featuring Leavell on piano accompanied by a string quartet. These tracks were among Sea Level's most noteworthy, and should have made the cut somehow.

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Product Details

Release Date:
04/20/1990
Label:
Mercury
UPC:
0042284314022
catalogNumber:
843140
Rank:
23625

Related Subjects

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Sea Level   Primary Artist
Tony Dagradi   Tenor Saxophone
David Earle Johnson   Percussion,Conga
Joe English   Percussion,Drums,Vocal Harmony
Randall Bramblett   Percussion,Keyboards,Saxophone,Vocals
Charlie Brent   Alto Saxophone,Baritone Saxophone
Rudolph Carter   Horn
Davis Causey   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Ed Dowling   Trumpet
Charles Fairley   Horn
Earl Ford   Horn
Jaimoe   Percussion,Drums
Leo Labranche   Horn
Rodney Lafon   Trumpet
Chuck Leavell   Percussion,Keyboards,Vocals
Donald McClure   Horn
Jon Smith   Tenor Saxophone
Tommy Talton   Vocals,Vocal Harmony
George Weaver   Drums
Lamar Williams   Bass,Vocal Harmony
Joe Woolie   Trumpet
Jimmy Nalls   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Vocal Harmony
Harold Williams   Baritone Saxophone

Technical Credits

Sea Level   Producer
Steve Smith   Composer
Charlie Brent   Horn Arrangements
Kevin Herron   Engineer
Kalifornia Kurt Kinzel   Engineer
Bill Levenson   Producer
Stewart Levine   Producer
Rik Pekkonen   Engineer,Remixing
Jon Smith   Horn Arrangements
Sam Whiteside   Producer,Engineer
John Swenson   Liner Notes
Tom "Curly" Ruff   Producer
Alli   Art Direction
Steve Smith   Cover Design
Tim Smith   Composer

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