Bloontz – Same (1973)

frontcover1Bloontz was a short-lived rock band from Houston/Texas.

Braunagel’s first experience on the drums was playing his cousin’s drumkit as a child, before being mentored by his neighbor Willie Ornelas.
At the age of about 15 he bought his first drumkit and soon after became involved in the then-upcoming Houston R&B scene, honing his skills by playing in local joints and nightclubs.
After drumming in several local bands, including Soul Brothers Incorporated, Braunagel teamed up with Andy Chapman (vocals), David Kealey (guitars), Michael Montgomery (keyboards), and Terry Wilson (bass) to form The Bloontz All Star Blues Band. In 1971, the band moved to New York under the auspices of producer Ron Johnsen, shortening their name to Bloontz and scoring a contract with the Evolution label.
Bloontz recorded one album at Electric Lady Studios … (by wikipedia)

From a marketing perspective these guys were dead on arrival – unusual name, small label, bad cover art …  as the saying goes, three strikes and you’re out.   Add to that the few online references to the group haven’t been particularly kind to them.  One major online reference didn’t even get their nationality right – they’re shown as being British.  Shame history hasn’t been kinder since they were actually a pretty good album oriented rock outfit.

Based in Houston, Texas and originally known as The Bloontz All Star Blues Band, the group featured the talents of drummer Tony Braunagel, singer Andy Chapman, lead guitarist David Kealey, keyboardist Mike Montgomery, and former Blackwell bassist Terry Wilson.  They relocated to New York in 1972 and shortened their name to Bloontz, scoring a contract with the Evolution label.  Produced by Ron Johnsen, 1973’s cleverly-titled “Bloontz” wasn’t half bad.  Mind you, none of the nine tracks was going to win an award for originality, but in the AOR genre the songs (with three of the five members contributing material), were quite varied and the performances were virtually all enjoyable.  As lead singer Chapman had a voice that was near perfect for album oriented rockers – tough, rugged, but quite commercial.  Imagine Paul Rodgers had he been born and raised in Texas.  The rest of the band were also quite good with guitarist Kealey deserving special notice for his tasteful solos.

– With a rollicking melody, the opening rocker ‘The Joke’s On You’ sounded like an early stab at southern rock.  This was one of the album’s most commercial and radio-friendly outings.

– ‘Jason Blue’ was unlike anything else on the album.  Musically it was a bluesy rocker that to my ears sounded like a cross between David Clayton Thomas, Meatloaf, and early Steely Dan.  Yeah, you’ll simply have to hear this one to judge it yourself.  It was one of those songs that grew on you after awhile.

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– Yeah, the title was a grammatical challenge; the lyric remains a puzzle to me, and the song itself wasn’t all that great …  Still, ‘You Ain’t Your Body’ gave Kealey a chance to unleash a nice solo.

– ‘Arena’ was the kind of track a hair band like Whitesnake would have killed to have written.  Nice rocker with a great hook, interesting lyrics that should have appealed to any red blooded 17 year old male …

– Kicked along by Kealey’s screeching, but melodic lead guitar and one of Chapman’s grittiest vocals, ‘Long Way Down’ was a nice  ‘life-is-tough-as-a-rock-star’ ballad that was easily as good as anything Free had released.  That might explain why it was also tapped as an instantly obscure single.

– Penned by Montgomery, side two started with a great country-rocker in the form of ‘Prodigal’.  One of the album’s best melodies, this one gave Kealey a chance to show off his Telecaster moves …

– Co-written with Wilson’s former Blackwell partner John Rabbit Bundrick, ‘Sunshine’s Masquerade’ was the album’s first major disappointment.  A mid-tempo piece with an emphasis on Montgomery’s keyboards, this one simply never switched into first gear.    rating:

– ‘Ramon’ was one of those tracks that I didn’t particularly like the first couple of times around.  It struck me as being kind of cheesy, but the tune itself was quite good.

– Opening up with a pretty acoustic guitar ‘Light Up the World’ morphed into an overblown ballad (complete with female backing chorus) that showcased the worst aspects of Chapman’s voice – here he simply sounded shrill and shrieky.  Not a good way to close out the album.

TThe album did nothing commercially and the band subsequently broke up with

Braunagle and Wilson reappearing as members of Paul Kossoff’s Back Street Crawler.  (by badcatrecords.com) …

… and they recorded some of the songs from this album again … with the great Paul Kossoff … included the fantastic “Long Way Down”.

Maybe this album is not a lost classic, but it´s a real fine gem … And if you like Free or Paul kossoff´s Backsreet Crawler … then you have to listen !

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Very rare Promo-Single

Personnel:
Tony Braunagel (drums, percussion)
Andy Chapman (vocals)
David L. Kealey (guitar)
Michael John Montgomery (keyboards)
Terry Wilson bass, guitar)
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Jimmy Don (guitar on 02. + 09.)
Steve Radney (guitar on 01.)
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background vocals:
Linda Lawley – Margaret Dorn – Sharon Redd – Zenobia

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Tracklist:
01. The Joke’s On You (Braunagel) 3.15
02. Jason Blue (Montgomery) 3.33
03. You Ain’t Your Body (Wilson/Bundrick) 2.25
04. Arena (Montgomery) 2.30
05. Long Way Down (Montgomery) 3.53
06. Prodigal (Montgomery) 3.30
07. Sunshine Masquerade (Wilson/Bundrick) 3.10
08. Ramon (Wilson) 3.30
09. Light Up The World (Smith)

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Dedicated to the great Michael John Montgomery, who passed away in 1991

 

 

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