Sea Level was an American jazz fusion band from Macon, Georgia that mixed jazz, blues and rock between 1976 and 1981. An offshoot of The Allman Brothers Band, Sea Level took on a life of its own as tensions grew between Gregg Allman and other members resulting in the loss of two of ABBs founding members.
After the Allman Brothers Band broke up when Gregg Allman and Dicky Betts left, the remaining members who evolved into Sea Level were “We Three” comprising bassist Lamar Williams, drummer Jaimoe and piano player Chuck Leavell. The trio would occasionally open shows for the group in 1975 and 1976. The trio added guitarist Jimmy Nalls and took their name from the phonetic pun of their new bandleader Chuck Leavell’s name: “C. Leavell.” They toured relentlessly, experimenting and refining their sound, eventually signing with Capricorn Records (home of the Allman Brothers) and recording their self-titled debut album in 1977.
After the release of their first album, the group expanded to a septet with the additions of Davis Causey (guitar), George Weaver (drums, percussion) and Randall Bramblett (saxophones, keyboards and vocals). That configuration recorded the group’s second album, Cats on the Coast, in 1978 (with the leadoff track, “That’s Your Secret” reaching #50 on the Billboard Hot 100). By the time of the third album, On the Edge, Jaimoe and Weaver had both left, replaced by Joe English. The sextet of Bramblett, Causey, English, Leavell, Nalls and Williams recorded the fourth album, Long Walk on a Short Pier (1979), unreleased in the United States for nearly twenty years, adding percussionist Matt Greeley for their fifth and final album, Ball Room, issued on Arista in 1980. Their greatest hits album (CD) wrapped up their body of work, minus a handful of appearances on various compilation albums (mostly Southern Rock). They were also featured on a 1978 live Southern Rock album which included a live version of “Grand Larceny.” (Hotels, Motels and Road Show” see here)
Leavell later emerged as a much sought-after session musician and producer, touring with Eric Clapton and eventually becoming a “permanent” session player touring with the Rolling Stones.
Lamar Williams died from lung cancer on January 21, 1983, at age 34.
Jimmy Nalls, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease, died on June 22, 2017, at age 66. (wikipedia)
Live FM radio broadcast of Sea Level performance at the Roxy in LA on 3/03/1977. Concert broadcast on KWST-FM, Los Angeles. Sea Level had just released their debut album a month before this concert, and was touring to promote their new record.
The recording is not the best sonically but the band is in great shape. The best years were to come through with the addition of Randall Bramblett a great singer songwriter who is still recording and plays sax and keyboard. Davis Causey a great guitar player is another great addition to the ultimate Sea Level. Too bad no live recording of that stage here. Check out Randal Bramblett solo albums starting in the seventies for Capricorn and in 2020 still continuing. So underrated. (by ghblues)
Without any doubts, Sea Level was one of the finest Southern Rock bands ever …
Recorded live at the Roxy, Los Angeles on 3/03/1977
Concert broadcast on KWST-FM, Los Angeles.
Jai Johanny Johanson (drums)
Chuck Leavell (keyboards, vocals)
Jimmy Nalls (guitar, vocals)
Lamar Williams (bass, vocals)
01. I’m Ready (Dixon) 3.59
02. Tidal Wave (Leavell) 5.20
03. Hide Away (King/Thompson) 3.44
04. Scarborough Fair (Traditional) 6.01
05. Band Intro / Shake A Leg (Hoerner) 4.52
07. The Patriotic Flag Waver (Creaux) 11.42
08. The Rain In Spain (Leavell) 6.11
09. Hot ‘Lanta ( D.Allman/G.Allman/Betts/Trucks/Oakley/Johanson) 7.43
10. Country Fool (Leavell) 4.13
11. Grand Larceny (Larsen) 6.55
12. Statesboro Blues (McTell) 5.22