Saturday, June 28, 2008

The 77's - Holy Ghost Building, review (And a list of other crucial 77s records)

(2008 - Lo-Fidelity/Fools Of The World)

track list:
I'm Working on a Building 
 Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning 
Stranger Won't You Change Your Sinful Ways 
 I'll Remember You, Love, In My Prayers 
You're Gonna Be Sorry 
 What Would You Give In Exchange For Your Soul 
 He's A Mighty Good Leader 
 When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again 
 Everybody Ought To Pray Sometime 
I'm Gonna Run To The City of Refuge 
 A Lifetime Without You

The Seventy Sevens are easily one of THE BEST rock bands to come out of the last few decades, from any genre, period! 77s frontman, Michael Roe's guitar work is uncommon and overwhelming. Without a doubt he is a guitar prodigy, that I seriously rank up with the best! I can name a number of tracks to prove this view, hell, I have tons of material to pick from. This band has been kicking all of our asses since the late 70s!!!! Here it is, 2008, and we are treated to another studio outing, titled "Holy Ghost Building", the band's homage to the gospel/blues/bluegrass bands of old. Michael Roe said, when asked about the sound of this album, "When folks ask me what this record sounds like, I like to say 'Elvis, Scotty, Bill & D.J.' because we did it exactly the way those guys did the early Elvis recordings. It even sounds like them sonically here and there, but thankfully none of that was planned either, which of course makes me very happy. You can't plan those things without them often sounding planned, and I'm so glad we didn't. Even the one original tune we tacked on at the end of this project as a bonus treat for the fans was made up on the spot: music, lyrics, melody and all. Talk about risk! But that's how you end up with records like the ones I loved as a kid, and this one's got that sound and feeling."
For the record, every song on this cd rocks. From beginning to end, we get what we expect. High quality, tons of guitars. A lot of attitude. What some might not expect however is that even though experimentation is nothing new for this band, the guys still find ways to bring new ideas into their music. The 77s have done blues, and gospel in the past, but it was done in small doses. The band's pop sensibilities always dominated it though. Here, Roe tries new things with his voice. Some of the vocal work will surprise you. He manages to capture the vocal stylings of various singers, who have influenced the album. At first listen, I was actually shocked to hear how far the band was going to take this sound. Again, with the band's pop sensibility being a major force in the past, I did not expect this album to disconnect so much with past albums. On this record, we are treated to entirely new 77s. Another strength to this album is that the songs do not all sound alike. There are several different examples of rock history here to examine. It is not a run of the mill blues record. Roe's guitar jangling dominates the music, which is a high point for me personally. I am also happy that the band sounds less tired on this record, than they did on their last full length "A Golden Field Of Radioactive Crows". Granted, this record, musically, is slower, and less "modern rock" but the band has a lot of life, and it shows on this one. It is a natural progression, or maybe just a well needed reminder, that this band still rocks with the best of them!!! 
Now, this record does not come without flaws, and I will elaborate. For one. Somehow I missed the memo and thought this was a record of completely brand new songs, written by the 77s. What we get here is 77s renditions of already existent gospel and blues songs. THAT fact alone took some wind out of my sails, when you consider the hype that was brought with this record, and when you consider how long it has been since the last album (6 years).
Not having a full length new album of songs penned by the band only, kinda bummed me out, but they did manage to end the album on an original, and i think its the best song on the album. I might be alone here, but I really think "A Lifetime Without You" sticks out and shines with classic 77s spirit. And it is no surprise, being the one original on the record, its a shame we didn't hear what more the band could do with a few more originals. 
A lot of fans might not get this one, or like it because it is strictly a gospel/blues record, but I get a lot of joy from that. But, with this record not being filled with originals, and with this record being so different from the others, I really hope the band will spend less time than this one took, making a new album, that pays homage to some of the classic older sound, where gospel and blues was carefully blended with progressive rock, and pop hooks.
THANK YOU BOYS for another awesome album. DO NOT STOP!!! Keep kicking asses. Give us a classic sounding 77s record sometime in the next 3 years.
And, for God sake, can somebody please book a show in PA?!?!?!

And, while we are talking 77s, track down and find these records:
All Fall Down (1984)
The Seventy Sevens (1986)
Sticks And Stones (1990)
Pray Naked (1992)
Drowning With Land In Sight (1994)
Tom Tom Blues (1995)
EP (1999)


Mike Beidler said...


I'm glad you enjoy the album. The band certainly worked hard to make this the kick-ass album it is. Originally, Mike and I were planning on an album of all-original music (with Dave returning to the fold for the studio portion), but Bruce Spencer had the ingenious idea of the blues/gospel/bluegrass homage. I couldn't say no.

We're not sure when the Sevens are going to record another album, as each of the guys are busy with other side projects, but Mike and I are currently planning his next solo outing. One song in particular will blow you away in terms of lyrics and music -- that is, if you really know your musical history. Gorgeous acoustic pop to be sure, with (God willing) a few surprise guests.

Thanks again for the review, and don't forget to buy a few copies for family and friends. Christmas is right around the corner. ;-)

Mike Beidler
Executive Producer, Holy Ghost Building

Sam Brady said...

Hey, I'm a Sevens fan too! I went to the Atlanta show and wrote about it on my blog.

For what it's worth, my favorite Sevens CD is "Pray Naked", with the 77's, EP, and now the new one right behind in no particular order.

Brad said...

zI haven't bought the new record yet, but hearing the 3 songs from it are excellent. (covers tunes or not). I must say it sounds like The 77's got a second wind on this one. Great production and mixing, with great performance makes its a sonically sounding masterpiece!!! Mike Roe's vocal sound so good, I forget he's even playing the guitar on the record as well. What a great guitar player he is. I have missed the A-train Smith on drums over the last couple of 77's records, but Bruce Spencer does a good job keeping his style of playing a bit looser on this record. I'm excited, can't wait to hear the whole album. Good job 77's, still keep it rollin after all these years. Rockn'Roll Brad