Listen – Moby Grape – Someday – MP3
The tune I bring you today is one of my favorites by one of the great underrated bands of the 60s.
I first encountered the music of Moby Grape, not in its original form, but rather via a record by the Golden Palominos.
The GPs were a loose conglomeration of multi-generational alterna types that I came to via the involvement of Michael Stipe of REM. The group’s 1985 LP ‘Visions of Excess’ included contributions from Stipe, Richard Thompson, Syd Straw (what ever happened to her??), Jack Bruce, John Lydon, Bill Laswell and Jody Harris of the Raybeats. What the album also included, was a song called ‘Omaha’, which got a fair amount of college radio play.
It wasn’t until a few months after picking up ‘Visions…’ that a chance visit to the loft of a garage punk guitarist in Manhattan – where an old 45 was pulled from a box and played – that I realized that ‘Omaha’ was a cover of a Moby Grape song. This revelation was a real eye opener because in addition to the fact that I knew the name (but not the music) of Moby Grape, the original version of ‘Omaha’ was nothing less that brilliant.
In the years since, especially after the release of the 2-CD Grape retrospective in 1993, I’ve grown to love and respect the band.
The history of Moby Grape is a tortured one, filled to bursting with business rip-off, mental health problems and an excess of bad timing. Fortunately it’s also filled with a couple of albums of outstanding music, some of the finest to come out of San Francisco in the late 60s.
The tune I bring you today was the flipside of ‘Omaha’, the group’s only chart “hit” (#88) in 1967. ‘Someday’ is every bit as restrained and subtle as ‘Omaha’ is boisterous and dynamic.
I’ve always considered Moby Grape to be a kind of Northern California version of Buffalo Springfield. Both bands had multiple lead singers and guitarists, as well as the ability to fuse rock, country, psychedelia and jazz into something new and different.
‘Someday’s gentle sound stands in direct contrast to its surprisingly bitter lyrics of a love gone bad, until the bridge, in which the anger in the words is reflected briefly in the music, followed – oddly enough – by a jazzy little coda.
If you’re not familiar with Moby Grape, do yourself a favor and track down that 2 disc comp (if you can find it) ‘Vintage: The Very best of Moby Grape’. It’s an excellent – well annotated – compilation. If you can’t track it down, there’s a later single-disc comp, as well as CD reissues of the individual LPs.
I hope you dig the tune and I’ll see you all on Monday.