Sweet Smoke - Just A Poke (1970) [ProgRock]



Review by Bejamin Miler
Sweet Smoke is often thrown in the Krautrock bunch, when in reality, they were American. The band came from New York City, but they moved to Germany. The band consisted of lead guitarist/vocalist Marvin Kaminowitz, rhythm guitarist/vocalist Steve Rosenstein, bassist Andy Dershin, drummer Jay Dorfman, and saxist/flutist Michael Paris. Their music is quite different from what most other American bands in the late '60s and early '70s, they're more of an early prog rock band, of the kind that still had psychedelic leanings. There's also a jazzy element from time to time, especially in the sax department. Just a Poke, originally released in 1970 on EMI/Columbia (if I'm not mistakened, the album also received a French and Dutch release), is their first album. The album only consisted of two side-length cuts. The track listenings are a bit messed up, as it's commonly believed the album starts with "Baby Night" and ends with "Silly Sally", when in fact, it's the other way around. I own the original LP, which the back cover states that side one was "Silly Sally" and "Baby Night" was side two, although to confuse matters, the record label states the opposite. The back cover of the LP is correct. "Silly Sally" starts off almost medieval-sounding, complete with recorder. It starts off pretty mellow, with vocals, from Marvin Kaminowitz. Eventually the music picks up, and goes in to an extended guitar jam, before going in to an uncredited cover of the Doors' "Soft Parade", before going back to a variation of the opening theme. "Silly Sally" has a bit of a more bluesy feel, where they put a bit more emphasis on rhythm. The band then turns to an In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida like drum solo, then they go in to percussion overdrive. So, while Sweet Smoke is often thrown in the Krautrock bunch, there is really nothing musically in common to say Can, Ash Ra Tempel, Amon Düül II, early Tangerine Dream, Neu, Faust, etc. Basically, their music is recommended if you like early prog and psych.

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