Listen – Leslie West – Dreams of Milk and Honey – MP3
I promised I’d return with something heavy, and since lies make little baby Jesus cry (according to either Rod or Todd Flanders), I have.
I can’t recall exactly the first time I heard Mountain, but my tattered memory is suggesting it may have been on the soundtrack of a late night viewing of the movie ‘Vanishing Point’ sometime in the mid-70s. I suspect that my love for the band’s brand of heavyosity was cemented shortly after that when I started listening to NY rock radio in earnest, wherein ‘Mississippi Queen’ was in regular rotation.
It wasn’t long after that, when I and some equally untalented friends attempted to hammer out that very song in someone’s garage, and we learned that even though the blueprints of ‘Mississippi Queen’ didn’t reveal much in the way of complexity, we were not up to the task (cowbell or no).
This mattered not, since this was at an age where I was just as happy to lock myself in my bedroom, slap on the headphones and let Leslie West stomp all over my ears.
The first Mountain album I actually owned was the live LP ‘Flowers of Evil’ (a Rimbaud reference that I was too young to pick up on), which came – and this is a delicious but of detail – with a little mylar card in the sleeve instructing the listener (me) to increase the volume for full enjoyment of the record. At the time I thought this was a particularly rebellious, “rocked out” thing to do, and it made me like the motley looking band all the more. Years later, when I had a somewhat firmer grasp on vinyl technology I realized that Mountain had exceeded the recommended side-length on ‘Flowers of Evil’ and the request for a volume increase was to make up for the decreased fidelity that excess caused.
Anyway, ‘Flowers of Evil’ consisted of one side of studio recordings, and one live side recorded at the Fillmore East in 1971. I don’t remember digging the studio side all that much, but the live side went into heavy rotation, specifically the ‘Dream Sequence’ which was along medley that included a version of today’s selection ‘Dreams of Milk and Honey’.
Years later, I was out digging and turned up the LP “Leslie West: Mountain’ which included the studio version of ‘Dreams of Milk and Honey’ as well as West’s version of ‘This Wheel’s On Fire’. Though the LP was credited to West, it was for all intents and purposes the first Mountain LP. The personnel on the record was West, bassist/vocalist/producer Felix Pappalardi (who had also produced Cream) and drummer ND Smart who had played with the Remains.
‘Dreams of Milk and Honey’ is a great feature for West and Pappilardi’s fuzzed out guitar/bass team, and West’s raw vocal, and is a perfect example of how things were starting to get heavy in 1969. In fact, it wasn’t long after releasing this album that Mountain took the stage at a muddy little gig called Woodstock.
I hope you the tune, and I’ll be back on Monday.