The Road Goes Ever On

Yes, The Road Goes Ever On is an actual album title. It’s a Mountain live album from 1971. It’s bluesy, warm, and amazing. Leslie West, the band leader and guitarist, has been described as “a guitar player’s guitar player.” Although obscure outside of the band’s big single, “Mississippi Queen,” West is a master guitarist that has garnered the recognition of the best in the business.

This album has but four tracks. The first two, “Long Red” and “Waiting to Take You Away,” were from the band’s appearance at Woodstock in 1969. “Long Red” is a nice blues-based jam, while “Waiting to Take You Away” is a dreamy, impassioned exploration. Side one finishes off with “Crossroader,” another blues song that comes right out of Cream’s playbook. Ironically, the band’s producer and bassist, Felix Pappalardi, hated comparisons between Mountain and Cream and took pains to show how they were different, even though his vocal style was very much like Jack Bruce’s. All through side one, West’s guitar solos are a real treat. It’s fun stuff.

Side two is one song: “Nantucket Sleighride.” Over seventeen minutes of jamming and sonic power. It takes the dreamscapes of “Waiting to Take You Away” and develops them at length. While I truly enjoy the studio version of the song, I always enjoy the live versions of the song. West’s ability to improvise with brilliance never disappoints. The keyboard player, Steve Knight, is a bit uninspired, but Corky Laing’s drumming and Pappalardi’s thunderous bass playing more than make up for Knight’s shortcomings. In the end, it’s West’s guitar and the visions that spring from it that dominate the album.

If the album was just “Nantucket Sleighride,” I’d give it a 10. There are a few hitches and glitches on side one, but not enough to make the album score less than a 9 out of 10. It’s well worth finding. The live version of “Nantucket Sleighride” is a 99-cent download from Amazon, and that makes it a steal at that price.

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