Friday, October 17, 2008

The McCoys - Human Ball (1969)

The McCoys' fourth album, 1969's Human Ball, opens and closes with the band laying out some tough blues workouts on-stage at the Scene, one of New York's more celebrated rock clubs of the day, and on this score the LP was already an improvement over the pretentious meandering of their previous long-player, Infinite McCoys. Human Ball is every bit as clear a departure from the McCoys' garage rock roots, but the set maintains a dramatically tighter focus, and unlike Infinite McCoys here the band doesn't hesitate from rocking out, especially on the swaggering R&B-influenced "Daybreak," the funky roots-conscious cover of Dylan's "All Over You," the sunny country vibe of "Only Human," and the stormy rant of "Clergy Lies." The jazz influences and desire to show off the group's sophistication, which dragged Infinite McCoys down more than it lifted it up, had not been purged entirely from Human Ball, and "It Really Doesn't Matter" and "Love Don't Stop" are filler more than anything else, while Bob Peterson's piano solo in "Daybreak" takes up far too much space. But the closing take on "Stormy Monday" gives ace guitarist Rick Zehringer (soon to become Rick Derringer) plenty of room to strut his stuff, and after hearing this track you can understand how most of these guys later got the gig as Johnny Winter s backing band. If the McCoys had been encouraged to cut a straight-ahead blues or blue-eyed soul album, it could have been a barnburner, which Human Ball unfortunately is not. But at least the band's last album is a tighter and more enjoyable effort than the LP that preceded it, and demonstrates how much they could have accomplished if they'd hung together a bit longer.
01 Human Ball Blues02 Only Human03 Epilogue04 All Over You05 Daybreak06 It Really Doesn't Matter07 Love Don't Stop08 Clergy Lies09 Stormy Monday Blues

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