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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ram, USA

Ram - Where? (In Conclusion). 1972 Polydor.

I never included this album in the original CD Reissue Wishlist, but Mike McLatchey and I were talking about the album yesterday, and it made me think we all could use a better reissue at the very least. The Akarma issue is barebones, with no info, and is taken from vinyl.

For many years, since I first bought the LP in the late 1980s, I've felt that Ram is one of America's more unheralded progressive rock albums. The first two tracks are straight ahead rockers, almost like Rare Earth or similar US street rock groups. But the last two tracks on Side 1, and especially the 25 minute side long suite 'Aza', show a remarkable progression.

'Aza' is fascinating, as it sounds like synthesizers, or even mellotron, are the dominant instruments. But on a careful listen, you can hear they are using saxes, flutes and contact mics to emulate the synthesized sounds. The electric guitar and fuzz bass are blistering on this track. I find it hard to believe a creative band like Ram doesn't have other similar sounding tracks sitting in a vault somewhere. Can you imagine a CD reissue with one or two extra epics like 'Aza'? For me, that could raise Ram to the very best the US ever put out, especially from the early 1970s.

In researching the group on the Internet, there's very little info. Apparently they're from New York (that may not be the case either - as all we know is the LP was recorded there), and one of the members showed up in a later incarnation of Hot Tuna (maybe).

Any former Ram band members, producers out there who would like to get in touch with me and set the record straight? Anyone out there know more about this group? I sure would like to know more.

Wikipedia says this: "Ram is a musical group that was based in New York City in the United States and was active in the early 1970s. Band members included brothers John and Ralph DeMartino as well as Bob Steeler who later played with Hot Tuna. Many reports state that a mellotron was the instrument used for the spatial and electronic effects of Ram's music. Actually, they were the result of electronic flute and in some cases, tenor alto and soprano saxophones (sometimes played 2 at a time) by John DeMartino. The band produced one album on Polydor in 1972 entitled Where? (In Conclusion). "

Fuzz, Acid & Flowers - American Garage, Psychedelic & Hippie Rock 1964-1975 says: "This heavy progressive album by a New York progressive outfit is becoming rare and in demand. It consists of five long tracks (one occupies the whole of one side). The music's full of complex arrangements, with lots of mellotron and flute as well as some vicious guitar leads."

Band members:

Dennis Carbone - Piano, Tambourine, Vocals
John Demartino - Sax, Flute, Clarinet
Ralph Demartino - Guitar, Vocals
Michael Rodriguez - Bass, Vocals
Steeler - Drums (As it states above, the prevailing opinion is this is Bob Steeler, but maybe not?)

Priority: 1


Anonymous said...

Ralph De Martino, lead guitar. Lives in Miami Beach. He is a successful businesman in the realstate market... And still plays for fun. Could not upload a picture of him playing.

Tom said...

Thanks Anonymous. Would you be so kind to have Ralph contact me via my e-mail which can be found under the "About Me" section? Thanks!