The Cosmic Travelers “Live! At The Spring Crater Celebration” (Gear Fab Records 2013)
Starring the amazing talents of former Paul Revere and the Raiders guitarist Drake Levin, lead vocalist and bassist Joel Christie, who sang lead in Jesus Christ Superstar, drummer and vocalist Dale Loyola from the Hook and the Lee Michaels Band, and vocalist and guitarist Jimmy McGhee, who performed with Otis Redding and Etta James, the Cosmic Travelers produced only one album during their short-lived stint, but what a masterpiece it is. Recorded April 1, 1972 at the Spring Crater Celebration at the Diamond Head volcano in Oahu, Hawaii, the duly titled “Live! At The Spring Crater Celebration” has been out of print for years, but is now available on compact disc in all its blazing glory.
Sizzling full steam ahead with razzle dazzle jams that expertly bind together blues, soul, funk and hard driving rock and roll into a single file, the Cosmic Travelers are on fire each and every galloping groove of the way. The interplay between the musicians is absolutely stunning, as they are simultaneously loose and tight. Securely grounded, but raw and spontaneous, the Cosmic Travelers speak the same language, as they swap and blend licks in an impressively telepathic manner. Dripping wet with energy and electricity, “Live! At The Spring Crater Celebration” contains not a speck of down time. A loud and fiery affair, the album is so vivid and exciting that it makes the listener feel as if they’re right onstage with the band.
Sparked by rivers of rhythms bumping and grinding with purpose, “Jungle Juice,” “Farther On Up The Road” and “Soul” reel and roar with heated musicianship designed of wailing guitars and powerhouse drumming. The vocals are passionate and wild, and although the emphasis is on improvisational kicks and tricks, the band still manages to pierce the material with catchy melodies and bracing hooks. By incorporating the funky frills of artists like the Chambers Brothers, George Clinton and Sly and the Family Stone with the freewheeling frolic of the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service and the James Gang, the Cosmic Travelers parent a wicked sound that’s equal parts street soul and hippy heaviness. Dedicated to Drake Levin, who departed the earthly plane in 2009, “Live! At The Spring Crater Convention” serves as a sweltering snapshot of a classic jam band. In-depth liner notes, written by Drake’s widow, Sandra, complete the package. The Cosmic Travelers may not have stuck around the scene very long, but their lone contribution to the music biz remains positively priceless.
Review made by Beverly Paterson / 2013
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