Friday, August 30, 2013

FDF Volume 4 Issue 317 - The Samples - The Last Drag

Album – The Last Drag
Artist – The Samples
Key Players – Andy Sheldon – bass. Vocals, guitar, trombone. Al Loughlin – keyboards, piano. Jeep MacNichol – drums, percussion. Sean Kelly – guitar, vocals

Produced By – Marc DeSisto + The Samples

Release Date – September 24, 1993

Overview – Originally Kelly and one time guitar player Charles Hambleton met in Vermont and then moved to Boulder Colorado where “The Samples” were formed in 1987. They'd play out and about and get picked up by Arista before being dropped. They'd release this album, their 3rd on a new independent label. The band mix styles of pop, folk and reggae to create very unique sound and style. Never getting “too big” the band toured and had its own grass roots following which would result in a larger fan base. They'd again sign to a major, this time MCA, who then also seemed to run in to label issues and the band was dropped. They continued on, and have, albeit with considerable line up changes.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - Sixteen tracks about 61 minutes the record starts with the acoustic guitar led “Little Silver Ring". Kelly has a powerful voice that sounds full and once the band comes in with the trademark jangle of the guitar it all falls in to place. MacNichol keeps a slow and steady pace whole Sheldon has some subtle bass line work under the melody.  "Everytime" is a  pretty melodic song with nice layered vocals More piano with percussion fills.  "Still Water" seems a litte mellower for the verse, but the chorus has some good pushes between Sheldon and Kelly. Closest we've gotten to a guitar solo so far is here. MacNichol hones in on the ride cymbal. "Eatonville" is a mellow tune and sorta dull, It finds hte band in a darker place and it feels ununinteresting at times.  "The Streets In the Rain"  trademark guitar sound. Solo, has the elements that keep it familar and strong.  "When The Day Is Done" is an acoustic guitar lead song that repeasts the title a lot. "Taxi" fun keyboard line/bouncy drums. Lots of shaker feel..foot tapping fun. Builds to a little more buzzy guitar which is a nice change. Loughlin seems to be the focus. "Carry On" has that guitar sound is back. Just vocals and guitar until MacNicol rolls up and Loughlin adds some layer, but it keeps an even pace. Some vocal harmonies and a bit more vocal soaring later which is nice. "Conquistador" has a very quick drum intro, figure a rocker, but not. Trademark sound and feel, but good towards end. "Misery" finds Sheldon locked in low bass groove, percussion instuments and it sort of feels like it is trying to start off. Keyboards with steel drum. MacNichol does evertything on his own on this track. "The Last Drag" acoustic guitars and crickets with dogs baking at start, whale sounds later "Darkside" odd song title for a more uptempo song. Hammond organ sounding bouce fun tune. Mandolin playing too. "Nitrous Fall" has the jazz lounge sound. Layered vocals, sort of dark/slow though. Canned claps and sort of a mellow mood describe "Prophet Of Doom" and “Playground” has a slow open but almost goes ska without the horns..well until the end. The album concludes with "Smile For The Camera" acoustic guitars with a quiet flamenco feel to round it all out.

Where are they now? - The band has gone through many changes with Kelly being the only member still in the band. He is working on a new Samples record. Loughlin is still recording under “Highway 50”. MacNicol is playing drums as “Mr Anonymous”. He recently did some drum tracks for Ranking Roger (The English Beat).  Check out what Sheldon has been up on on his reverbnation page

FDF Overall Take - I honestly struggled with a lot of this record. The reviews on sites like amazon are glowing and you'd expect most fans that take the time to comment would sing its praises. Where it is good I really like it, but that same guitar sound gets a little old to me. I find it pretty tame, sorta in the vein of Dave Matthews and the like. The guys are talented for sure, it just isn't overly interesting to me personally. Not terrible, worth a few short bucks for sure.

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Disclaimer – I am just a music fan. Feel free to comment about something that may be written incorrectly about the band/members etc. I strive to have a fun and enjoyable site. This site used to post mp3s but ran in to many issues. The audio clips provided are usually from YouTube. No copy write infringement is intended. Please alert me if something should be pulled. Finally, support the artist featured, or your favorite artist by purchasing their music, seeing their shows if possible and saying hi. They need your support.


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