Mighty Baby

A Jug of Love (Sunbeam)

Too many rock writers marvel at the fact that all but one dude from the Band was Canadian. These Greil Marcus types drone on and on about the perceptions of the "American Dream" through the eyes of outsiders. It's something to chew on . . . if you're bored, but I'd rather spend valuable brain time listening to a cluster of British groups from the early '70s who took Americana and made it their own, far more uniquely than the Band ever did.

For bands like Help Yourself, Brinsley Schwarz, and Mighty Baby, there was no difference between Quicksilver and CSN&Y -- or even Captain Beefheart. And this reissue of Mighty Baby's second and final full-length from 1971 is a gorgeous example of the student overriding the unseen teacher. Guitarist Martin Stone's leads on "The Happiest Man in the Carnival" and "Tasting the Life" meander beautifully around his group's loose-limbed, Dead-like jamming. But the real treat here is the nine-minute "Virgin Spring." All damp and green, the track is the ultimate sound of the English countryside meeting the gravel two-tracks of Woodstock, complete with vocalist Alan King sounding like Richard Manuel at his most heart-wrenching.