Fred Glickstein - guitar, lead vocals; Jerry Goodman - violin, guitar; Rick Canoff - tenor saxophone; Tom Webb - tenor saxophone; Frank Posa - trumpet; Jerry Smith - bass; Ron Karpman - drums
This extremely rare live recording of the Flock was captured during a most legendary run in New Orleans, opening for Fleetwood Mac and the Grateful Dead. It was on this night, following this very show, that members of the Grateful Dead and crew were arrested on drug charges, forever immortalized by Robert Hunter with the line "Busted down in New Orleans" in the Dead's classic song "Truckin'." Recorded during the Flock's opening set on the second night of this run, this captures the group at the best possible time, shortly after their debut album was released, when the band's future seemed bright.
Signed to CBS/Columbia during the brass-rock explosion that resulted in the mega-success of Blood, Sweat & Tears and Chicago, the Flock was an altogether different animal. The instrumentation was similar, with guitar, bass, and drums backed by a three-piece horn section, but the Flock added another dimension in the form of future Mahavishnu Orchestra violinist Jerry Goodman. The approach of both Goodman and lead vocalist/guitarist Fred Glickstein was much less restrained than the music of their more successful label mates and possessed a sort of manic energy that really needed to be experienced live. The group also had more collective experience with jazz and classical music, in addition to rock, pop, and the blues. The melding of these diverse elements made their music a little too experimental and avant-garde for pop stardom, but the Flock was an important band, well appreciated by an underground legion of fans.
Fans of the Flock's self-titled debut will be delighted as all the material performed in this set is culled from that album. However, as to be expected, the band opens up in a live context and the songs contain extended solos and additional experimentation not found on the studio counterparts. The recording begins toward the end of their opening number, "Introduction," which is essentially a solo by violinist Jerry Goodman. Only the last three minutes of this slowly developing instrumental was captured, but it does allow one to hear Goodman and Glickstein's most quiet and delicate interplay. However, this is far from representative of the band's music, as the remainder of the set will show.
"Clown" is next, featuring full-blown horn arrangements, an extremely progressive jam in the middle and a manic bluesy conclusion. One of the most inspired songs on their debut album, this begins with a driving beat and demented, but humorous lyrics. Tight instrumental and vocal arrangements anchor the various sections of this song, but there is plenty of exploration and impressive soloing accommodated as well. A quieter midsection develops between bass and guitar which blossoms into a dramatic horn arrangement, bursting with colors, before returning to the opening theme to close this nearly 13 minute excursion.
The Flock concludes their time on stage with "Store Bought, Store Thought," a hard rocking number about a mechanical man with a funky beat. Another of the more exciting songs in their early repertoire, here Fred Glickstein's guitar battles it out with the horn section, before morphing into a quieter jazzy midsection, then gradually picking up speed for a wild conclusion. It also contains one of their more memorable lyrics regarding Humpty Dumpty: "I'll lay you odds of 10 to 1 / Somebody pushed him just for fun."
A sense of humor and adventure and an approach to music that transcended traditional genre boundaries made the Flock an impossible band to pigeonhole. Their unique mixture of rock, jazz, classical, and blues and their ability to find balance between a raw or polished sound made the Flock one of the more intriguing bands of the early 1970s.