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Majic Ship - The Complete Recordings (1966 - 1970)

Arising out of adolescent garage band the Primitives, which played primitive covers of British Invasion tunes, the New Primitives came together in New York City in 1966, originally composed of a group of high school friends: Ray Rifice (guitar), Tommy Nikosy (guitar), Rob Buckman (drums), and Mike Garrigan (vocals). Soon, the band increased to a group of five with the addition of bassist/organist Gus Riozzi. They kept a busy performance schedule throughout the next few years when their high school commitments allowed it. In 1968, Rifice left the band to attend college, but at about the same time, former '50s crooner turned manager Johnny Mann saw the band live and promised to get them a recording contract. Philip Polimeni replaced Rifice on lead guitar, and the New Primitives became Majic Ship. Mann introduced the band to the Tokens, who produced their first single, "Night Time Music." It became a local hit, even gaining the band some national airplay, as did a second single, "Hummin." After much touring and a couple more singles, Majic Ship found their way to a studio to record their self-titled debut album in the summer of 1969. They melded hard rock, pop, and psychedelia in a way similar to fellow New Yorkers Vanilla Fudge. The band continued on for the next couple of years with plans to record a second album, but those plans were nixed when the band's shared house in Staten Island burned to the ground in 1971, taking with it virtually all their recording equipment and instruments. Without any insurance, the bandmembers called it quits. (source)

Originally released on the Bel-Ami label in 1970, "Majic Ship" is an album that gleaned lots more attention after its birth. That's all well and good, but such accolades would have duly benefited the Brooklyn band on a larger scale while they were active. Because the disc was pressed on a small imprint, distribution was limited, which of course amounted to restricted exposure. Had a wider audience been able to hear "Majic Ship," the band definitely would not have sunk into obscurity as they did. Some years ago, Gear Fab Records resurrected the album in digital format on a couple of occasions, with one of the packages containing bonus tracks. The disc being reviewed now, however, is available only on vinyl.

Surging full steam ahead with hard rocking psychedelic sounds, "Majic Ship" is further enriched by firm musicianship and competent songwriting. Comprised of lead singer Mike Garrigan, lead guitarist Phil Polimeni, rhythm guitarist Tommy Nikosey, drummer Rob Buckman and bassist and organist Gus Riozzi, the band boasted an impeccable rapport, and word has it they were quite the live attraction as well.

Plastered with choppy riffage and coiling tempos, the powered punch of "Nightmare" steps in as a great Who imitation, while "Cosmo's Theme" is a buzzing instrumental, "Sioux City Blues" screeches and sizzles with determination to the hissing tone of fuzz guitars, and the crackling electricity of "Life's Lonely Road" pulsates with penetrating acid rock grooves. A warm and relaxing feel charges the meditative mindset of both "Where Are We Going," and "Wednesday Morning Dew," "Too Much" slaves away to a solid and steady beat, and a medley of Neil Young's "Down By The River" and Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" is marked by crisp and crunchy jamming. Consumed by dashing hooks, raw energy and strutting vocals, splashed with a spot of soul, "Majic Ship" is bound to produce high-fives by fans of bands like Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly, Nazz and Spirit.

Majic Ship's existence came to a dreary end in 1971 when their equipment was claimed by a fire. 1999 saw the Mike Garrigan and Tommy Nikosey reunite, resulting in an album titled "Songwaves Project" that also included Cher, ex- Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor, Dave Amato from REO Speedwagon, and drummer Ron Wikso, who has played with everyone from Foreigner to David Lee Roth to Cher to Randy Meisner to Denny Laine. Although the disc is poppier than "Majic Ship," it's still strongly recommended and adds a nice touch to the band's legacy. Review made by Beverly Paterson

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