Thursday, January 28, 2016

Henry Gross - Release

This month marks the fortieth anniversary of Release, the fourth studio album from Brooklyn born singer-songwriter Henry Gross. Originally a founding member of Sha Na Na, Gross went solo in the early 1970's. This album went to number 64 on the US Billboard album chart, spending a total of twenty-eight weeks on the chart.

Side one begins with "Juke Box Song", an up-tempo pop-rocker about a time when the popular songs ruled the jukeboxes across the country. I kind of miss dropping a dime in the slot and watching the arm pull out my selection to place on the turntable. Today, we all pretty much carry our own personal jukeboxes in our pockets.

"Lincoln Road" was the B-side to the third single. This local neighborhood celebration has a snappy swing of a rhythm to it.

The B-side to the second single was "Overton Square", a light bluesy number. Gross sings it mostly in a falsetto register.

The second single "Springtime Mama" stalled at number 37 on the US Billboard Hot 100. This one has a bit of a Beach Boys flavor to it, both in the melodies and the vocal harmony layering.

"Moonshine Alley" tells the tale of trouble in the backwoods of the south. The music sets the perfect mood for the piece.

Side two starts with "Shannon", his biggest hit song. As the album's first single, it went to number 32 in the UK, number 6 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and number 1 in both Canada and New Zealand. Most people who grew up around the time I did know well of this heartfelt story of the passing of a family's beloved dog.

"One Last Time" has a light pre-disco rhythm to it, mostly thanks to a funky guitar riff and a muted backing horn section.

"Something In Between" picks up the pace a bit with a bouncy rock beat and a rousing piano.

"Someday", the third single, barely made it to number 85 on the US Billboard Hot 100. It is not surprising as, for me, it is probably the least memorable track of the group here.

"Pokey", the upbeat B-side to the first single, closes out the record. This one has a country-rock vibe to it.

I picked up a copy of Release digitally back in 2008. Growing up I fondly remembered "Shannon" and wanted to see what more Gross had to offer. Overall, I like it well enough to give it a listen every now and again. It reminds of a simpler time of life when I was on knocking on the door to becoming a teenager.

1 comment:

HERC said...

Always thought this album had the oddest picture on the cover.

Still have my "Shannon" 45 on the silver Lifesong label. The flipside is "Pokey" which was name of my first puppy. No memories of him other than in pictures and never could get story of what happened to him from the folks. "Pokey" the song is an upbeat bluesy tune about a man down South.