Moby Grape – “Place and The Time, The” – [Sundazed Records]
Sundazed Records had briefly reissued the Moby Grape Columbia catalog, a run of several LPs from 1967-1970, and added numerous bonus tracks to all of them. Shortly thereafter, one-time Moby Grape manager Matthew Katz, who remarkably still owns the name of the band, allegedly forced those reissues off the market by claiming rights to the album artwork that Sundazed used from the original releases. But the bonus tracks remain, as they were never actually part of the Moby Grape album catalog and they are now assembled by Sundazed into this 2 LP set. These range from their auditions prior to their first LP, demos, alternates of tracks released in other forms on the original Columbia releases, and live versions of songs previously released in studio form only. Some tracks are here in multiple forms. Moby Grape was the odd duck in the SF scene, being a group that had multiple singers and songwriters rather than a single charismatic front person. Their three-guitar front line shared similarities with the equally talented Buffalo Springfield down in Hollywood, with both bands favoring short, dynamic songs with a bit of country flavor, although they could also churn out psychedelia as needed. Sadly, the Grape never really topped their first LP, and some say they were never the same after acid casualty Skip Spence left the group for some jail time and a spell in Bellevue Hospital. There’s another Sundazed release that simulates a live Moby Grape set comprised of a number of different gigs, but the tracks here are more a demonstration of their songwriting and craftsmanship.