Many of us remember first hearing “Mississippi Queen” on AM radio as well as FM and being electrified by the guitar playing and the hard edge of the song. As a result, we flocked to buy the album that contained the song. Leslie West played the guitar with a vengeance and style, while Corky Laing pounded the skins and Felix Pappalardi along with Steve Knight rounded out the band. They produced two very good albums before calling it quits. West and Laing formed other moderately successful collaborations. Mountain, nevertheless, burned their existence into the psyche of Rock and therefore their legend always seems to pop up here and there.
On their latest album, Masters of War, West and Laing are joined by Kenny Aronson, Ritchie Scarlet, Todd Wolfe, and Brian Mitchell to create an album of very electric Dylan covers. The album begins with a blistering, and timely hard rock version of “Masters of War,” with Ozzy Osbourne lending his vocals to the track, sharing off with West. “Serve Somebody” is heated up with Warren Haynes adding lead guitar to this smoking interpretation. Haynes also provides his guitar to “The Times They are A-changin’.”
You may have heard Peter, Paul & Mary’s version of “Blowin’ in the Wind,” as well as Dylan’s own, but you haven’t heard it doused with gasoline and match-lit in this ‘70s styled rocker version. It’s also provided on this disc in a scaled back acoustic version. There are seven more Dylan classics, Mountain-style, with the only misstep being a grating rap-like, drum and vocal version of “Like a Rolling Stone.” If you would love to hear a well done cover, a little on the psychedelic side, then try to snag a copy of “Like a Rolling Stone” as interpreted by Spirit on their excellent Spirit of ’76 album – good luck in trying to find that one but it’s well worth the search. And no one is going to supplant The Byrds’ version of “Mr Tambourine Man” anytime soon, especially with Mountain’s version sounding like an AC/DC cover.
But despite the few strange variances noted earlier, Masters of War by Mountain is a welcome surprise, well worth your time. West and Laing have not lost a single step.
Dedicated to Felix Pappalardi