Bill Champlin - guitar, keyboards, vocals; Terry Haggerty - lead guitar; Geoffrey Palmer - keyboards; Dave Schallock - bass; Bill Vitt - drums
In early 1971, Bill Champlin decided he wanted to play with a new rhythm section, and formed this band for a brief series of club dates around the Bay Area. The group was comprised of fellow Sons of Champlin bandmates Terry Haggerty and Geoffrey Palmer, along with the new rhythm section of Dave Schallock (a later member of Big Brother and the Holding Company) and drummer Bill Vitt (who would later become the drummer for Jerry Garcia and Merle Saunders' band). The group never practiced, but often played impromptu gigs at the Lion's Share in San Anselmo. They eventually began developing a repertoire, and this gig catches them during that early, formative stage.
The performance starts off well (the opening number, in particular, is quite good), but the set gradually begins to disintegrate due to technical problems (Terry Haggerty, mainly, seems to be suffering from broken strings). The first song showcases the group at its best, delivering soulful, funky rock with soulful vocals and scorching guitar solos from Haggerty. Haggerty plays with a jagged irregularity of phrasing and a sweetly aggressive tone, often at a blistering pace. Champlin's guitar, contrastingly, has a much cleaner tone, and his solos are less imaginative overall. Both give strong performances on this opening tune ("Bulldog"), though, and the first guitar solo by Haggerty particularly smokes. It eventually becomes a freeform jam before coming to a close.
The following number, "Who," is more a vehicle for Champlin, and though enjoyable, ends prematurely when Haggerty breaks a string. "Poppa Can Play," a great feel-good number, signals a return to form, and would eventually make it onto the Fillmore: The Last Days release. Here, the band seems at their best, with the chugging Hammond organ and another hot solo from Haggerty - though once again he breaks a string. The next two numbers sound like fresh pieces that haven't been quite developed into anything exciting as of yet. "Right On" begins in progress, with about 30 seconds missing, and seems a bit overblown with slightly cliched lyrics. Fortunately though, the song's redeemed by a meltdown jam at the end, during which Haggerty again gets a chance to burn it up.
The first three songs certainly seem to capture the band at their best. The remainder of the set, for the reasons mentioned above, is on the weak side. Otherwise, Terry Haggerty is one of the most interesting of all the Bay Area guitarists, and an absolute pleasure to hear, whenever he steps up for a solo.