While on their early singles Majic Ship was a solid pop band who mostly devoted themselves to imaginative interpretations of covers, by the time they cut their first LP in 1970 they'd shifted gears and become a hard rock act with an undertow of pastoral psychedelia, and their self-titled album (the only full-length release from the original band) is an interesting artifact of its era. Lead guitarist Phil Polimeni embraced a warm but fuzzy sound that suggests the influence of Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townsend without the aggressive histrionics of either artist, and vocalist Mike Garrigan was a more than capable blue-eyed soul singer with an admirable sense of restraint on moodier numbers such as "We Gotta Live On" and "Wednesday Morning Dew." When the band turns up the volume on stuff like "Where Are We Going" and "Sioux City Blues," the results are a bit less immediately impressive, since a number of bands were following a similar path at the time, but Majic Ship still has plenty to offer when they rock out. The performances here sound warm and organic, and sway with an easy but impassioned groove, while Garrigan, bassist Gus Riozzi, and rhythm guitarist Tommy Nikosey deliver impressive harmonies. While the 11-minute medley of "Down by the River" and "For What It's Worth" goes on a bit too long and doesn't bear comparison to the originals, Polimeni's guitar work holds it own and the band is able to bring its own personality to the tunes, no small thing. It's probably a mistake to regard Majic Ship as a lost classic from the era when psychedelia was giving way to hard rock, but it's a solid and enjoyable record from a band who had genuine talent and some fine songs; it's not hard to imagine these guys could have become major stars if their luck had been a bit better back in the day.
|Label:||Gear Fab Records|