Saturday, February 27, 2016

Fossils: Felix Pappalardi & Creation (1976)

Felix Pappalardi & Creation
[click to embiggen]
It could easily be argued that musician, songwriter, and producer Felix Pappalardi was one of the architects of hard rock and heavy metal music. Although he originally honed his production chops working on folk and folk-rock records by artists like Tim Hardin, the Youngbloods, and Joan Baez, among others, he hooked up with Eric Clapton and Cream for their second album, producing Disraeli Gears and later becoming known as the band’s fourth member. He went on to produce Cream’s Wheels of Fire (1968) and Goodbye (1969) albums, as well as Cream bassist Jack Bruce’s 1969 solo debut, Songs For A Tailor.

Pappalardi, a classically-trained musician, would become best-known for his role as bass player and producer of one of the heaviest dinosaur-rock outfits that would stomp across the planet in Mountain. Pappalardi had previously worked in the studio with guitarist Leslie West’s band the Vagrants, and when Cream broke up, ol’ Felix saw an opportunity for a like-minded power trio. Enlisting the larger-than-life guitarist and vocalist to front Mountain, the band’s first two albums would go Gold™ in the U.S. and result in a classic rock radio staple in the song “Mississippi Queen.” When Mountain broke-up, Pappalardi semi-retired from touring due to rock ‘n’ roll-induced partial deafness; he later returned to the studio to produce records by the Flock, Hot Tuna, and even punk rock legends the Dead Boys.

In 1976, Pappalardi hooked up with Japanese hard rockers Creation, who had opened for Mountain during the band’s earlier tour of Japan, for a one-off record titled Felix Pappalardi & Creation. They benefited from a high-profile tour, opening for Bob Seger and Kiss, but lacking the charismatic presence of the larger-than-life West, the album went nowhere fast. The label’s ad for Felix Pappalardi & Creation was certainly grand enough, the bass player standing front and center with a rising sun behind him, his head haloed by rays of light. It plays up his impressive bona fides, but it may have been too little, too late. Pappalardi would make his proper solo debut with 1979’s Don’t Worry, Ma collection of covers. Tragically, a Mountain reunion would later occur without the accomplished bassist, as Pappalardi was shot to death in 1983 by his songwriter wife Gail Collins.

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