Atlee – Flying Ahead – Used LP
G+ (lots of wear, clearly went to the party but didn't get totally trashed.
signature 1970 hard rock, boogie heavy sludgy swampy bluesy
Atlee: Flying a Head (1970)
Remember that band, Highway Robbery?
You know, the obscure hard rock power trio heralded by collectors, far and wide (actually, neither far nor wide), for their excellent (and only) 1972 album, For Love or Money?
Well Atlee was the band that preceded them, harboring two of three future ‘Highway Robbers,’ guitarist Michael Stevens and drummer/vocalist Don Francisco, here working alongside keyboardist Bruce Schaffer and vocalist, bassist, songwriter and band namesake Atlee Yeager.
Atlee, the band, also proved a one-album-wonder, with this now very rare, 50-year-old release, and there have been several occasions in recent years in which I almost shelled out small fortunes for dilapidated copies, only to stumble upon this pristine example for just $12, my patience rewarded!
Not least because Flying a Head is just good, not great, and certainly not worthy of king’s ransom (you’ve been warned), since Yeager’s songs lack that magic spark, even when performed by four, highly competent musicians in a variety of styles, none of them groundbreaking nor original.
There’s the smoking heavy blues of “Rip it Up,” where Stevens shreds like its 1980, not 1970, the conversely dreamy “Painted Ladies,” the hippie anthem “Let’s Make Love,” the funky “Dirty Old Man” (including drum solo), and the southern rocker “Dirty Sheets.”
Elsewhere, Yeager vents his disdain for all those “Jesus People,” with their outstretched hands, and Stevens just can’t stuff enough slide guitar into “Swamp Rhythm,” but he sure does try, leaving no doubt that it was he, not Atlee, who deserved top billing in this band.
And that’s basically what he would seek in Highway Robbery, alongside Francisco and vocalist/bassist John Livingston Tunison IV, once Atlee’s brief and undistinguished run with the hapless ABC Dunhill label fizzled out.
Not that ‘72’s aforementioned For Love or Money would fare much better on RCA (at least not until geeks like me rediscovered, decades later), and Stevens wasn’t heard from again until a pair of late ‘70s efforts by Big Wah-Koo, featuring one-time Chicken Shack bassist Andy Silvester.
As for Atlee Yeager, he followed Flying a Head with an equally nondescript solo album in 1973, before vanishing into oblivion.