Young-Holt Unlimited – 1970 – Mellow Dreamin’
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One of their wildest and most beautiful LPs! By this point, Young & Holt getting past their usual funky Brunswick sound here, and they’ve opened up the groove a lot with lots of nice extra bits. The best proof of this is their fantastic take on “Midnight Cowboy“, which has an insane breakdown, funky piano, and this cool trumpet line playing counterpoint to the piano. Also includes a bunch of great tracks by piano player Ken Chaney, like “The Creeper” and “Trippin“.
After Young-Holt Unlimited left Brunswick and its confining atmosphere, they looked for ways to open up their sound and explore their groove-conscious soul-jazz in new ways. Signing with the Atlantic Cotillion imprint proved the way to go. Mellow Dreamin’ is an expansive record, full of bright, airy tones, warm textural elements and a truly spaced-out mind-set. The opening cut, “The Devil Made Me Do Dat“, (a nod to comedian Flip Wilson’s infamous bit) still had the good-time soul-jazz groove that made 1969’s “Soulful Strut“, a smash — albeit with a wild eight-string electric bassline by Young — but that’s where the resemblance stops. The droning Hammond B-3 and call to arms of Frank Gordon’s flugelhorn on the cover of “Going in Circles“, celebrates the band’s new direction. Its laid-back tempo, elegiac melody and wide harmonic palette — with tons of effects by the mysterious production brain trust Saturday Night Music, Inc moving it forward — showed the band taking their groove thang to new sonic worlds. The wide open, dreamy reading of “Wichita Lineman“, is one of the best versions ever with Gordon’s flugelhorn solo warmly and emotively pushing the bridge into the twilight zone beforeYoung’s killer eight-string bass solo slips the sound of the street seamlessly in the back door Add to this they sweet summery grace of the title track and the spaced out gritty funk of piano and organ boss Kenneth Chaney’s “Trippin” and “The Creeper” and you have left the planet. But the final surprise, with an outlandish read of the theme from Midnight Cowboy features a killer contrapuntal duel betweenChaney and Gordon, and one of the wildest piano breaks in recorded music history. Mellow Dreamin’may be one of the forgotten chapters in soul-jazz evolution as it moved toward the fusion and disco of the 1970s, but it doesn’t deserve to be. This is a sky’s-the-limit, truly visionary offering from one of the most consistent outfits of the era.