Moby Grape is the rock band Moby Grape's eponymous 1967 debut album. Coming from the San Francisco scene, their reputation quickly grew to immense proportions, leading to a bidding war and contract with Columbia Records. Skip Spence, ex-drummer of Jefferson Airplane, traded his drum kit for guitar and between the five band members, thirteen songs emerged.
Columbia chose to release ten of the thirteen songs on five singles: "Fall on You"/"Changes", "Sitting By the Window"/"Indifference" (2:46 edit), "8:05"/"Mister Blues", "Omaha"/"Someday" and "Hey Grandma"/Come in the Morning". Columbia's decision diluted the power of the entire album, which was regarded as excessively hyped. The only single to chart was "Omaha".
Nevertheless, as Gene Sculatti and Davin Seay write in their book San Francisco Nights (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1985; out of print), Moby Grape "remains one of the very few psychedelic masterpieces ever recorded." Justin Farrar considered that "(i)t's no understatement to hail the group's 1967 debut as the ancestral link between [sic] psychedelia, country rock, glam, power pop and punk. In addition, the 1983 Rolling Stone Record Guide said their "debut LP is as fresh and exhilarating today as it was when it exploded out of San Francisco during 1967's summer of love." , ahead of Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow (146), The Byrds' Greatest Hits (178), Buffalo Springfield Again (188), Grateful Dead's Live Dead (244), Big Brother and the Holding Company's Cheap Thrills (338), and The Doors' albums L.A. Woman (362) and Strange Days (407).
Noted rock critic Robert Christgau listed it as one of The 40 Essential Albums of 1967. As reviewed by Mark Deming, "Moby Grape is as refreshing today as it was upon first release, and if fate prevented the group from making a follow-up that was as consistently strong, for one brief shining moment Moby Grape proved to the world they were one of America's great bands. While history remembers the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane as being more important, the truth is neither group ever made an album quite this good.
In 2008, Skip Spence's song "Omaha" was listed as number 95 in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time". The song was described as follows: "On their best single, Jerry Miller, Peter Lewis and Skip Spence compete in a three-way guitar battle for two and a quarter red-hot minutes, each of them charging at Spence's song from different angles, no one yielding to anyone else. "Omaha" has been covered by The Golden Palominos in 1985 on their Visions of Excess, with Michael Stipe on lead vocal. The song has also occasionally been performed live in concert by Bruce Springsteen.
On the front cover of the original release, Don Stevenson is "flipping the bird" (making an obscene gesture) on the washboard. It was airbrushed out on subsequent pressings, but the UK re-issue on Edsel/Demon restored the photo to its original state.
On October 9, 2007, Sundazed Records released a remastered CD version of the album's stereo mix containing bonus tracks, some of which were previously unreleased. In addition, Sundazed also released the album's mono mix on LP, but with no bonus tracks. Both the CD and LP versions were taken out of print, along with Wow and Grape Jam, on November 3, 2007, for reasons not officially stated. It has been widely circulated among the Moby Grape mailing list that former manager Matthew Katz, with whom the band has been in legal battles since the late 1960s, threatened to file a lawsuit against Sundazed claiming ownership of the album artwork.
Singles - Billboard
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