Thursday, May 10, 2007

LIFT — Caverns Of Your Brain,LP/CD,1974-7/1990,USA

Lift was formed in June, of 1972, by keyboardist, Chip Gremillion, bassist, Cody Kelleher and drummer, Chip Grevemberg. Although they all had worked together in numerous groups previously, LIFT was formed with the purpose of being a progressive band from the South. Chris Young was added on rhythm guitar, 12 string and vocals in the first month. Lead vocalist Courtenay Hilton-Green, from Pensacola Florida, who had worked with Gremillion previously and lead guitarist Richard Huxen of New Orleans joined within several months. Chris Young left the group shortly thereafter to pursue other interests, but not before penning the lyric to "Simplicity" and co-writing the lyric for "Caverns" with Chip Gremillion and Courtney Hilton-Green.
By late fall of 1972 the five member group now consisting of Gremillion, Kelleher, Grevemberg, Hilton-Green and Huxen began to rapidly build a strong following, even among area musicians who were often seen at LIFT performances. Throughout 1973 LIFT continued to attract the support of audiences and local music critics. LIFT became a frequent highlight performer at area universities for special events.
Local club performances were often standing room only with musicians and fans enjoying the show equally. LIFT continued to cover ever increasing and complex pieces of progressive music. LIFT would often begin it's show with the Genesis tune, "Watcher of the Skies". Imagine the condition this created in a southern audience in 1973. Aside from standard southern bands, LIFT covered, Led Zeppelin, Beatles, Uriah Heap, Robin Trower, ELP, Yes, King Crimson, Moody Blues and gradually introduced original material as it was composed.
In the summer of 1974 producer Sonny Fox put LIFT in the studio and recorded four songs; Simplicity, Caverns, Buttercup Boogie and Tripping Over the Rainbow. Most band members were barely 19 at the time.
LIFT continued to perform in the New Orleans area and increase in popularity. LIFT incorporated the recorded songs as well as additional original material into their live sets.
In the late Fall of 1975, at the suggestion of Sonny Fox, LIFT relocated to Atlanta. From the outset Atlanta was a challenge. Nothing went according to plan! Just months after relocating and based upon the material from the 1974 "Caverns" session, LIFT went to Philadelphia to re-record modified versions of "Simplicity", and "Tripping over the Rainbow" as well as a newer instrumental tune entitled, "To Undulate Rapidly." (The band was unaware of the pending release of the bootleg LP. Members only became aware of the "Caverns of Your Brain" release in 1990 when Greg Walker from Syn-Phonic contacted Chip Gremillion to release a CD from the original master tapes. The title originally was to be "Simplicity" or simply "LIFT".)
LIFT drove from Atlanta to Philadelphia, set up, recorded and mixed the three tunes with no sleep. The session was described by producers as "very hot." LIFT was involved in a short mixing session, listened to a good playback of each tune and headed back to Atlanta with promises of dupes and Masters to follow. To this day no one has ever received a copy of that session.
The Winter of 1975 -76 was harsh for Atlanta and for LIFT. By early Spring, bassist Cody Kelleher and lead vocalist, Courtenay Hilton-Green left the group. Nearly a 7 month search ensued for replacements with virtually no luck. In early Fall of 1976 Laura "Poppy" Pate a soprano voice teacher answered an ad placed at a local music store. She claimed to be checking us out for a student. After hearing our music she was immediately part of the group. Within weeks a chance meeting between Chip Grevemberg, Mike Mitchell and Tony Vaughn in an apartment hallway resulted in what can only be described as musical critical mass!
In less than six months of intense rehearsals LIFT added five new compositions to its catalog and completed rearrangements the "Caverns" material to better fit the new personnel line up. In spite of no live performances LIFT quickly garnered the respect of local musicians who frequented rehearsals and also the curiosity of British record producer Michael Stewart.
Stewart was in Atlanta producing the Atlanta based hard rock group, Hydra. With Stewart at the helm, Hydra had signed with Capricorn records and was working on their second album. Stewart was impressed by LIFT and felt the group had enormous potential. However, the existing recorded material did not represent the group in its current form. Michael put us back in the Studio.
A professional photography session was booked, A&R reps from different record companies began expressing interest and enthusiasm was mounting. Based upon one listen to the new material, LIFT was booked as the opening act for an upcoming major show at Atlanta's leading concert venue of the time, Alex Cooley's Electric Ballroom. A&R people from up to four interested labels were to be in attendance. LIFT was ready!Two weeks prior to the scheduled show Poppy informed the group she was leaving immediately for personal reasons. Decision Final!
Shortly after Poppy's departure and our withdrawal from the concert Richard Huxen left the group.
Over the next six months Chip Gremillion, Mike Mitchell, Chip Grevemberg and Tony Vaugn invited a number a guest musicians to rehearse in an attempt to recreate LIFT'S capabilities, but to no avail.
However, the remaining foursome soon realized that we were quite capable of producing a unique sound. In that remaining period some of LIFT'S best material was composed. Six to seven additional compositions were created; ironically it was this music that potentially had the greatest chance of commercial success. LIFT disbanded in February, 1979.
A REVIEW
Artist: LiftAlbum: Caverns of your Brain (1974)
****1/2
Comments:
Lift were an American progressive rock band from New Orleans LA from the early 70´s.Much of the music on here is very energetic and fast paced.They played with such raw energy and enthusiasm yet also injected a strong sense of warmth and passion in their music in a way that is kind of rare these days.I have always thought of this cd as sort of a cross between Genesis´ foxtrot(especially supper´s ready) and Camel´s Mirage. There´s lots of hammond organ, ssynthesizer, mellotron and Latimer style guitar. From what I understand however these guys´ main influence was Yes. There is an obvious Yes influence as well but this group definitely has their own sound and do not sound like they are copying any specific band. The first track on here is called "simplicity" and has a great long instrumental introduction.This cd only has four tracks on it. The longest and best track on here(imho)is the 12 minute "trippin over the rainbow." This track reminds me a bit of supper´s ready but I wouldn´t say it´s a deliberate ripoff of that classic but the ending parts to both are very similar.This was released on symphonic a while ago and is probably out of print.If you like early Genesis, symphonic prog or Collect American prog this one is worth looking for.
taken from www.prog.net
Reviewed by: Mike Reiss (mjreiss@voicenet.com) 1/24/00

Although it sounds much "mainstream" oriented,don't be fooled!Those almost sidelongtracks are excellent psych /prog compositions with much use of hammond organ and very freaky at some parts.
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3 comments:

Benjamin said...

This is simply amazing im a enthusiast of great music no matter what type and i'm also from pensacola Florida and to know that the lead singer of this band was from Pensacola FL is amazing, thanks for providing great info with these uploads of records...

Benjineer

Anonymous said...

It is always a pleasent surprise to find additional comments from individuals who enjoy our music. To this day I am amazed a the number of positive, not to mention enthusiastic, emails regarding this album. It was a remarkable experience for a group of 19 and 20 year old Louisiana musicians to be in the studio recording our own progressive music in 1974. My only regret is that we had so little time as this was only a demo ad we were unable to complete vocal harmonies and create fully "produced & polished" mix. As it was we had just three days to record, one to mix and a day to set up mike, dub and tear down.

By what turned out to be good fortune, the bootleg was created and released. Greg Walker's tenacity in tracking me down and subsequent call led to everything else, including getting me to revisit and appreciate the magic we managed to create and capture on the first LP.

Chip Gremillion,
LIFT-Keyboards

Alex B said...

Great prog, well played, great compositions. It´s not very personal or creative - sometime it remembers Yes and Genesis a bit,but it´s a lot gem of 70,s!