Bassist Peter Harris, drummer Christopher Lloyd, singer/keyboardist Ric Prince, rhythm guitarist Steve Ross and lead guitarist John Earl Walker started out playing under the name "Creedmore State". The group subsequently got their first break when New York City-based club owners Arnie and Nicky Ungano took an interest in them. Giving them exposure via their nite club, the Unganos also suggested changing the band name to "Plum Nelly" and used their industry connections to help the band audition and sign with Capitol Records.
Over the years I'd read good things about 1971's Ken Cooper produced "Deceptive Lines". Ironically, while the set was released by Capitol Records, finding a copy (let alone one in decent condition) was a surprisingly tough challenge. Having finally stumbled across a copy, I have to admit that it took awhile for the album to reveal its charms to me. Featuring a series of extended tracks (only one out of six clocks in under four minutes), band originals such as 'Deception' and 'Carry On' were rather conventional rock, sporting occasional progressive and surprisingly jazzy touches (the latter courtesy of Jeremy Steig's flute - of Jeremy and the Satyrs fame). As lead singer Prince had a decent voice, though his performances were frequently a little on the shrill side for my tastes ('Carry On'). More to my liking were John Earl Walker's chunky lead guitar moves ('Lonely Man's Cry'). Personal favor; the intense 'Demon'. In terms of talent, these guys were clearly above most of their competition; a fact made even more impressive given they were still in their teens, but in terms of originality this one's still lacking.
- Judging by the back cover, these guys looked like your conventional hard rock quintet, so the flute solo opening on 'Deception' came as a surprise. In spite of the jazzy opening, the good news is that the song quickly picked up speed, turning into a more conventional power ballad. While occasionally a bit on the shrill side, the song also served to showcase Prince's voice in a nice context. A grower ... rating: *** stars
- Drummer Lloyd's sole contribution to the album, complete with Latin percussion and a fantastic Santana-influenced Walker solo, 'Carry On' had a nice funky shuffle feel to it. rating: **** stars
- Even with the Jeremy Steig flute solo, the hard rocker 'Demon' was easily the album's standout performance. Sporting a great melody and Prince's best vocal, this one started out tough and simply got better and better as it went along. rating: **** stars
- A bluesy-rocker. 'Lonely Man's Cry' was an okay performance, though for some reason Prince's vocal and the lyric have always reminded me a bit of a Styx number. Can't say that backing from The Sweet Inspirations, or the freak-out flute solo at the end of the song added anything to this one. rating: ** stars
- Clocking in at ten minutes, the album's opus, 'Sail Away' featured a bit of everything, including sensitive singer/songwriter moves, hard rock segments, Allman Brothers-styled guitar solos, and more of Steig's jazzy flute. Parts of the song were great (the crunching heavy metal opening segment and Walker's Allman solo), but stretched over ten minutes the song simply lost itself. rating: *** stars
- At least to my ears 'Never Done' was interesting given it sounded like the band was trying to adopt a British progressive sound. That said, powered by some nice Walker guitar, this was probably the album's most commercial performance, sporting a highly catchy melody. That said, drummer Lloyd was the song's secret weapon. Besides, how could you not enjoy a song with a lyric like "people running everywhere hoping they're' on time and bother the end of library week they nearly lost their minds .." ? rating: **** stars
Curisosly, Capitol doesn't seem to have done a great deal to promote the LP. As far as I can tell, they never even released a single odd the collection. That was a shame since several of these songs had FM potential.
Over the next three years the band toured extensively, opening for a diverse group of name acts ranging from Joe Cocker to The Kinks. 1974 saw them relocate to LA where they underwent a series of personnel changes. Long time bassist Harris was replaced by Bob Feit, who was in turn quickly replaced by John Murphy. Murphy was then replaced by Rick Rheinish. The band struggled on through 1976 at which point Walker called it quits, eventually turning up as front man for the cleverly titled John Earl Walker Band.
Walker has a nice Plum Nelly website at:
From RYM (rdten1)