Pinky Dauvin - lead vocals; Ralph Cole - guitar, vocals; Paul Hoffert - keyboards, vibes; Grant Fullerton - bass, vocals; Skip Prokop - drums, vocals; Paul Adamson - trumpet; Bruce Cassidy - trumpet; Howard Shore - alto sax, flute; Russ Little - trombone
Lighthouse was formed in 1968 by Torontonian jazz composer Paul Hoffert and popular session drummer Skip Prokop. Add to the mix strong vocalist Pinky Dauvin and Ralph Cole, a guitar player who is both tasteful and full of energy, and you have the makings of a great band. Lighthouse created a unique blend of jazz, rock and classical music and would soon become one of the most popular bands in Canada. Also a prolific band, releasing three albums in 1969 alone, Lighthouse extensively toured North America, often as an opening act for the biggest bands of the era. They were also popular on the festival circuit, with memorable performances at the Isle of Wight, Monterey and Newport Festivals.
This 1969 set, recorded at Fillmore West on a bill with Chuck Berry as the headliner, shows that the band had a distinctive sound early on, fueled by Prokop's energetic drumming, which drives the band with style, punch and musicality. Much of their original material featured elaborately orchestrated arrangements, which helped them achieve a heavy-hitting modern day big band sound. The original material performed at this 1969 concert covers a diverse range of styles. Several songs from their self-titled debut LP are featured, including "Mountain Man," "Whatever Forever" and, within the set closing sequence of songs, "Life Can Be So Simple."
Their second album is also represented with "Eight Loaves Of Bread," but it may be the unidentified instrumentals that show the band at their most adventurous. They avoid overly lengthy soloing and primarily concentrate on playing as a unit. The music remains captivating, even on the extended pieces, thanks to the tight arrangements and outstanding musicianship of the band members. Lighthouse proves just how tight a large ensemble can be and the various solos display a wide range of influences ranging from classical to pop, creating a fusion of elements uniquely their own.
As this set also demonstrates, they were ambitious in their choice of cover material, tackling material that other bands wouldn't dare to approach. This is particularly evident in their arrangement of The Byrds "Eight Miles High," which goes in unexpected directions. They also end the set closing sequence of songs with a tightly arranged medley of Beatles' songs that includes bits of "Hey Jude," "Al You Need Is Love" and John Lennon's "Give Peace A Chance," which had recently been released at the time.
It's a wonder the band never attained greater recognition as they easily held their own against the best horn based bands of the era. This is a unique glimpse into the very early days of Lighthouse, a band that is still going strong nearly four decades later.