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Mountain

The breakup of Cream in late 1968 had consequences that rippled across the rock music world -- in its wake were formed directly such bands as Blind Faith (whose tragedy was they never had a chance to actually become a band) and Ginger Baker's Air Force, as well as the rich solo careers of members Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce. And it yielded -- by way of Cream associate and producer Felix Pappalardi -- something of a successor band in 1969, in the form of Mountain.

The band's history all started with a Long Island-based psychedelic/garage band called the Vagrants, who'd acquired a serious local following and always seemed poised to break out, without ever actually doing so. Their lead guitarist, Leslie West, was a physically outsized figure as well as a musician extraordinaire whose playing had been completely transformed by his experience of hearing Clapton's playing in Cream. The Vagrants and West first crossed paths with Pappalardi in 1968, when he saw their potential and got them signed to Atlantic Records, where he was working as a producer. He had already made a name for himself producing Cream's Disraeli Gears album, and had played numerous background instruments on their follow-up, Wheels of Fire (and on the studio tracks that would form their Goodbye album). He did produce some of the best work that the Vagrants ever released, but none of it sold; and when West left the band in late 1968 to do a solo album, titled Mountain, Pappalardi produced it for him, as well as played keyboards and bass on the record. The results were the most impressive of West's career up to that time, a solid, blues-based hard rock workout, showing off just how profoundly he incorporated Clapton's playing into his own style -- Mountain sounded a great deal like the now-disbanded Cream, and was satisfying enough for the two to form a partnership, also called Mountain. Their first lineup was built around the one used on the album, with N.D. Smart on drums, and Steve Knight added on keyboards, while Pappalardi concentrated on playing the bass. Following a debut performance at the Fillmore West in July 1969, the group played its fourth live performance ever at Woodstock, in front of an audience of several hundred thousand, on a bill with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, the Who, the Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and -- also getting their first national exposure at the same festival -- Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The event was an auspicious one, even though it was followed by a personnel shift, as Smart was replaced by Corky Laing, West's oldest friend.

The group was signed to the Windfall label and released their debut LP, Mountain Climbing!, in the spring of 1970, accompanied by their debut single, "Mississippi Queen," which reached number 21 in June of 1970. That chart placement doesn't begin to delineate the impact of that single, a hard rock boogie that was a killer showcase for West's guitar and an unlikely piece of Southern-fried rock & roll, coming from the pens of the Queens- and Brooklyn-born West and Pappalardi, and the Canadian-born Laing -- it was as improbable as the California-born John Fogerty authoring "Born on the Bayou" or "Green River," and almost as enduring in popular culture. The single may not have reached the Top 20, but the album it was on peaked at number 17, driven by listeners drawn to the single but wanting more from the band behind it, and the high-energy mix of hard rock and blues they generated. And the debut album offered some surprises, such as the quartet's successful digression into progressive rock with "Theme from an Imaginary Western" (co-authored by Cream's Jack Bruce, which only further emphasized the indirect connections and musical debt owed the other band). The latter got lots of play on FM radio, as did "Never in My Life."

Equally important to the band's fortunes, they were able to deliver on-stage what they promised on their records -- indeed, their records were a surprisingly accurate representation of their actual sound, except that Mountain was even louder live than they were in the studio. The group scored another hit at the Atlanta International Pop Festival in 1970, alongside the Allman Brothers, Cactus. and others. Mountain's second album, Nantucket Sleighride, was equally successful commercially and unveiled the title track, which would take on epic proportions in concert. Flowers of Evil followed in November of 1971, just ten months after its predecessor, and it began to clearly show the strain of the pace the band had been keeping up since July of 1969 -- half of it consisted of lackluster studio originals, while the other half was a live medley and a concert version of "Mississippi Queen." Lackluster sales and reviews were inevitable, and the impression of a band running on empty was reinforced by their next release, Mountain Live (The Road Goes Ever On) (1972), which had only four cuts on it, all of them characterized by extended solos. Hardcore fans appreciated the record as an extension of their recordings, but many listeners and most critics found it lacking musical cohesion.

The group broke up soon after the release of that album, due in part to Pappalardi's concerns about his hearing, which been damaged by the high volume the band generated in concert. He returned to production, while West and Laing -- staying close to their hard rock roots, as well as the orbit whence Pappalardi had come -- teamed up with ex-Cream bassist Jack Bruce as West, Bruce & Laing, a hard rock power trio that cut a brief but memorable swathe of their own across the musical landscape in the early/mid-'70s. Meanwhile, a Best of Mountain LP released in the wake of the breakup helped to sustain interest in the group. And later in 1973, Mountain was back together, West and Pappalardi reactivating the band with Bob Mann on keyboards and guitar and Allan Schwartzberg on drums for a tour of Japan. This resulted in the live double LP Twin Peaks (1974), a much better representation of the group's concert sound, including a 32-minute version of "Nantucket Sleighride." During 1974, in the wake of the second live album, West, Laing, and Pappalardi revived Mountain again to record a studio LP, Avalanche. In subsequent years, West and Laing revived the group for live shows, sometimes joined by Pappalardi; West also performed with his own Leslie West Band. Sadly, Pappalardi was shot and killed by his wife in 1983. Two years later, West and Laing regrouped with Mark Clarke on bass and recorded an album before once again calling it quits. Laing served as PolyGram's A&R vice president in Canada between 1989 and 1995. In 1996, he reunited with West and Clarke for a new Mountain album, Man's World. West and Laing teamed up again in 2002 for another album as Mountain, Mystic Fire. ~ Bruce Eder & Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Go Leslie "Go". Thank you Jesus
If anybody had any doubts about Leslie's ability to play this song will shut their mouths!
fulminatus7
Long Island boy me. OBI North, East, South, & West. OMG !!
Nostalgic memories.. Mississippi queen! If ya know what I mean!
Yea love it
Nantucket Sleighride live--is there a better late night driving song?
Live at Capitol Theatre
Shredding live Nantucket Sleighride phew give it a go.
mississippi queen....off with the poser's heads!!!
Blues-Rock excellence!! !
I havent heard this version sweet marie nantucket sleigh ride in 40years ~ truley blown away












































































i
Most hard rockin' love song ever? Never in my Life!
Mississippi Queen is an awesome song. Great Band !!!
♪♪♪♪♪ ♥ ♪♪♪♪ OH, YEAHHHHHHHHH H : )
/
Ozzy claims Mountain got him hooked on cocaine
tslavinl21
Leslie West lived inside his guitar. His sound lives on, all these years later.
johnnyohania n
too bad the sound quality is so poor on this bootleg album, sounds like a pretty good jam.
one of the best solos was was when Mr. West did that thing on the live side of FLOWERS OF EVIL. It has one mean hook to it>
It is a shame Felix Pappalardi threw his life away when he went off on his wife......or maybe his wife went off at him! Another case of Domestic Quarrels breaking up one of the best sounding rock and roll groups of all time.Felix left the band before he died,but there might have been a regrouping in MOUNTAINS later years when everbody wasn't tripping out.
I'd love to see Mountain again. I saw Leslie West at The Chance in Poughkeepsie , NY. He can still sing his a** off and I've always loved his playing.
all these band are good sorry but cream still tops them all
Love Nantucket Sleighride, what a great song.
Cream was booked at stonybrook college. Needless to say Jack or Ginger got sick and cancelled. The show went on. Vanilla Fudge was on the ticket. And who else? The Vagrants with Leslie West. Turned out to be a great show. Also saw Leslie play a really small bar in Massapequa Park..had to go outside and listen because he was so freaking loud. One of the best and most tasteful guitar players ever. And one of the loudest.
That's the most rambling and pointless bio I've read so far
milosdad
I listened to Mountain nd Leslie West as a kid and was lucky enough to see them live a few times. Even so, I dont think I appreciated his playing as much as I should have. I'd like to list a few players that I enjoyed but underestimat e d while growing up. I welcome any comments or additions.
Leslie West, Peter Frampton, Angus Young, and Gary Moore.
jkaufman804
Miss them and my youth-in that order..
hodgdons7
Some of the concert memories! Never did get to see Mountain. And I lived in Boston for years.
Alwsyz rockin on...2 the mountain top
kvons1
Leslie West & Mountain @ The Frolics---Sa l i s b u r y Beach, MA. 1977----grea t memories.
sco1949455
i remember seing mountain for the first time in Woodridge,ny for $1 they blew us away. we were familiar with them in south fallsberg,ny { c a t s k i l l s >
at the flagle r hotel
Missississip p i Queen C'mon crank it. Dance w/ the lady...
denver209
Mountain Man on a Nantucket sleighride .got that?
I remember some great concerts with mountain...a n d only about 5.00! that was a long time ago.I always liked Mr. West's sound he got with his guitat...... . e r guitar(i am an old man,forgive my mispellings) . T H E GRANDE
milosdad
Nice that Pandora has the balls to play a 24 minute version of Nantucket Sleighride.
Good 'ole little Leslie West. Besides his guitar work, he's a funny guy.
I loved when he would visit the Stern show (back when I listened prior to 2002.); a funny f**ker with great tales to share.
The band played my school, American University and they were sensational. Since I was on the concert committee, I got to stand on the outdoor stage with them. Just before being intro'd to the crowd, Felix Pappalardi took me aside, and pointing to the rear steps, said Make sure no one comes up those stairs. I've always wondered if he was concerned about his wife, who later shot and killed him.
I Saw Moutain in Dallas with Black Sabath in 1970, when I went to college at Stephen F. Austin in Nacadoches, Texas. I also saw ZZ Topp at that college with only 200 people, Before their First Album. ( Did They Ever put Salt Lick on an Album ? ) Tom
cowboy4576
Check out- Crack the Sky
johnnyohania n
One of the best American guitarists of his generation. Every note played is clean and clear. My prior comments focused on his being a fat-a s s, and for that I apologize.
Gail Collins shot Felix??? No way!!!
i love mountain and why im 9
Love Mountain!,:) I broadcast live on www.vaughnli v e . t v playing air guitar:)..ch e c k it out
Leslie Has the soul that no other White man posseses!!!
homeloft
I saw Mountain in Poughkeepsie , NY, at the Last Chance. OMG, I couldn't sit still. These guys are SUCH a powerhouse! I've always loved Mountain and have always collected their albums and CD's. I think West is one of only a very small club of musicians with siggy sounds: SRV, Hendrix, Santana. Long live Leslie West!
!!!???!!?!? I just had a Flashback aaaaaaaaahhh h a a a a a h h a a a a a h ! ! ! ! !
milosdad1
Favorite Mountain memory was almost getting caught smoking in high school while listening to Mississippi Queen.
Lucky enough to see them open for Edgar Winter in the 70's. Saddens me that they are now touring with Hippiefest.
where's Avalanche?
leslie west,felix pappalardi, corky laing. THE REAL DEAL!
i feel MOUNTAIN started out and always was a shaking band
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