String Relief

By Dallas Embry

The first thing I can say about3 Piece Party is that there isn't enough of it. It seems that just as I have gotten into the groove, that's all there is; there ain't no more.

The second thing I can say is that I think Rob Magallon did a fine job as the sound engineer of this recording.

When this was recorded late last year, the band was made up of songwriter/vocalist Rick Lucas, lead guitarist Edward Garrett, bassist Clay Baird Jr., and drummer Steven Gentry. Although his contribution is very noticeable, Baird has since left the group; thus the title3 Piece Party.

Since Lucas came to the local area from Texas some years back he has made many attempts to put a band together (I know for sure because most of them have played Artist Nights at Uncle Pleasant's.) and I think he has finally succeeded in corralling the right musicians for creating a sound that fits his particular songwriting talent.

The sound is reminiscent of the Steve Miller Band, Blues Image and Shiva's Headband, with a little Moby Grape influence; in other words, firmly grounded in the sixties. Having received the majority of my musical education during that era, I appreciate these guys making me feel as if I'm being introduced to that sound for the first time 舒 all over again.

My favorite song is probably "String Relief," an instrumental which kicks off side two of the tape. It begins with bass and drums doing a riff that whispers "Parchman Farm" then segues into a "Tequila"-like riff with the addition of lead guitar. After a short jazzy segment the lead guitar wails a little bit, while bass and drums are consistently laying down a nice rhythmic foundation, then the piece concludes with rapid jazz-like interplay between drums and lead guitar. Personally, I would like to have seen this song extended a bit.

Since I started with the "B" side, I'll stay there, which leads to "There Was a Time," a slow jazzy/blues tune that deals with the heartbreak of a lost love, and features some nice lead guitar with short spare notes and more extended blues notes.

"Carvin' Knife" closes this side. First off, this isn't a song about homicide or mayhem; the knife referred to in the title is time, and the carvin' it does is to whittle away at life:

Been runnin' from those carvin' knives

Carvin' knives of time

Cuttin' a niche in my heart and mind

Carvin' knife of time.

It begins as a moderately paced blues, then rocks during the break, and the second verse before ending with ana cappella "Carvin' knife of time," with everyone singing.

Since this is a bass-ackwards review, I'll flip over to the first song on side one, "Final Appeal," which lyrically is the weakest song on the tape, and Lucas' delivery isn't equal to the other songs on the recording.

Song two on the "A" side, which is the final cut for this reviewer, conjures visions of flower children in a field listening to this band playing from the back of a flat-bed truck on a summer day. "Yesterday's Visions" is very sixties in temperament, as are the thought-provoking lyrics and the changes in tempo as Lucas sings "Yesterday's visions / Are tomorrow's memories / Yes, we're in the position / To make them today's realities."

The musicianship on this album is excellent. There's no flashy, screaming, complex guitar solos; just straight-ahead "let's-have-some-fun pickin' and grinnin'" blues, jazz and rock 'n' roll with a Texas drawl.

When String Relief puts out another tape I hope to hear some extended solos and more music in general. Until then I'll just have to catch them whenever they play in the area.