Lee Michaels Lee Michaels

[A&M; 1969]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: blues, soul, rock
Others: The Turtles, Canned Heat, Bread

I'll admit it. I'm a sucker for an organ solo. Done right it's about the closest you can get to a musical orgasm, if you ask me. They didn't call it the God box for nothing. I mean, once the Leslie gets whirling you're pretty much guaranteed to get a soulful bar or two out of it. So I was pretty stoked to come across Lee Michaels, a blue-eyed soulman (think Joe Cocker via LA) with organ chops instead of some spastic dancing.

Lee Michaels was recorded in one day. Six hours and forty-five minutes, to be exact. Michaels says he wanted to capture the feel of a live show so he went into the studio with his drummer Frosty and, you know, "just started playing..."  What resulted has the rawness of a live performance, along with the eight minute drum solos and undercooked song writing that goes along with such spontaneity. The whole first side is given over to a suite of five overlapping songs, mostly just Michaels hammering the organ and Frosty's dynamic, if ultimately meaningless, drum solo. Side two presents four songs with a little more structure, but still not much more than an excuse to give the keyboards another thrashing. In its favor, Lee Michaels showcases the polychrome sheen of the B3 at the hands of a consummate vamp. Frosty's drumming is crisp and sure-handed. It's all basic and bluesy, which is more insistent than straight-up noodley jamming.

This album is probably best enjoyed in chunks: the untapped break at the end of "My Friends," the reckless abandon of "Stormy Monday," the tack piano in "Heighty Hi." The sheer gorgeousness of analogy equipment in the '60s and '70s keeps this record sounding great, but lackluster songs keep it from being a true classic.

1. Tell Me How Do You Feel
2. (Don't Want No Woman)
3. My Friends
4. Frosty's
5. Think I'll Go Back
6. Stormy Monday
7. Who Could Want More
8. Want My Baby
9. Heighty Hi

Most Read