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Banastre Tarleton Band
Columbia, MO

The Early Years

(Green Horse Records 2004)


Musicianship Ė 8 out of 10
I imagine that any artist who looks back at their musical career sees moments in the past that  they would like to change.  Itís a precious few songs that remain classics down through the years, because musical tastes, abilities, and technologies change so quickly!

These thoughts come to mind after hearing Banastre Tarletonís music!  In my mind, I immediately traced his tunes to a certain era, when Rock bands like BTB were really popular.  Listening made me think of Live REO Speedwagon from back in the day (think 'Ridiní The Storm Out' or '157 Riverside Avenue'!).  If he tried to do this kind of stuff today, it wouldnít fit, and would sound dated; however, listening with the past in mind helps to give the music more credence.  In short, it helps to establish the quality of the music that BTB did in The Early Years!

I happen to like the live sound that Banastre and his band achieved!  I especially liked hearing the synthesizer work (perhaps an old Arp?), because it made me remember one of the early bands that I was in, and the keyboard player who was constantly adjusting sliders and knobs to get just the right sound!  We really rocked, and Banastre Tarleton really rocked!  Memories like that made this a cool record to listen to.  For the time, BTB played music that was cutting edge; as a result, I rated his musical abilities pretty high!

Songwriting - 8 out of 10
The Rock and Roll of this era (the era captured on The Early Years) isnít well known for socio-political dynamite!  Itís known for its good-time qualities, and spacey sounds (especially those prompted by the introduction of synthesizers).  Banastre wrote good rock songs, and performed them like a true showman.  Did the songs change the world?  No.  Did they change someoneís life for that brief moment in time?  You bet!

The lyrical topics are all over the board, proving that Banastre drew inspiration from all sorts of things in life, literature, and love.  The songs are quite simply what they are!  For my part, I thought it was pretty cool to be invited to hear them!  I thought of it, in many ways, as a musical slide show; a retelling of places the band had been in the past.  Some moments were hokey; others were poignant.  Isnít that pretty much how life is?

Sound Quality/Professionalism - 7 out of 10
Because of the lack of technology, these live tracks are all pretty rough in quality.  That is to be forgiven, though; back in the day, good live recordings were expensive, and unless you had rich relatives, you really couldnít achieve studio quality sound.  Iím glad that Banastre did what he could to capture these performances!  Itís not the level of professional sound that makes this CD interesting; itís the reliving of Rock and Roll Glory Days!  In that respect, Banastre has done a good job in capturing crystal-clear memories!

Packaging Ė 7.5 out of 10
I have to admit that I was disappointed with the content/packaging for this CD.  Usually, projects like this include extensive information in the liner notes, such as a history of the band, or facts about the performances/venues where the music was recorded.  You hear all sorts of introductions of the band in the live tracks, and for me, I would have liked to have known information about those shows, and the circumstances behind the scenes!  There is a small blurb that mentions the dates of the recordings and cool pictures of the band, but to be honest, there should have been more information (and photos!)

The packaging is adequate in that it houses and protects the CDs from being damaged, but the lack of information took a lot of the wind out of my sails.  I had hoped for a veritable feast of information to feed my trivia addiction while listening; instead, I found tiny morsels that were barely satisfying.  If this project is ever revamped, my suggestion would be to include more info about the bandís history, the stories behind each venue/recording, and information about the writing of each song!  Itís just not right to withhold that sort of information on a project like this!

Favorite Tracks
I Just Wanna Love You
Dead Ringer
Love Ya Too Much
Send Me an Invitation
Blackjack Lieutenant

Overall Rating Ė 8 out of 10
Though the sound quality is not good at all, I did enjoy listening to this CD!  It brought to mind an era of music that has passed, and quite frankly, will not return again.  It is a reliving of the era when Rock and Roll consisted of equal parts headtrip, attitude, hair and volume!  It is the era when bands like Rush, Journey, REO Speedwagon, Triumph and Styx were in their infancy, finding their voice in the world.  By the mid-80ís, most of these bands had peaked, and then gone a bit stale, but Iím sure all of them had fond memories of playing mid-sized venues and living the good life!

Why some bands donít go on to capture the same glory as others is beyond me; however, you only need to listen to Banastre Tarletonís CD The Early Years once to realize that these guys werenít too worried about that!  Even if they didnít capture major label recognition and go on to sell out stadiums, they had the same intensity as the Super-groups of their day, and from the sound of the applause that they received, they put on a good show, and had very devoted fans! 

Kids who have grown up in the 90ís will probably listen to this CD and have no idea why anyone enjoyed this stuff!  However, those of us who were alive to hear the Rock and Roll of the 70ís and early 80ís will find a smile on their face as they remember Rock shows that sound a lot like these live performances!  This CD helped me to remember groups that I enjoyed as a kid, and I hope that it will do the same for you!  Trips down
Memory Lane are too often riddled with thoughts of how this or that could have been done differently.  For once, it was kind of cool to take that trip, and remember cool things about music and life!

I definitely recommend this album for those who enjoyed Rock and Roll of this era.  Some fans from
Missouri may even remember being at these shows!  The Early Years was a cool CD to hear, and Iím glad that Banastre took the time to put this anthology together!  Check it out.  I think you will enjoy listening!óMark Lush,, 1/28/05


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