Listen My Friends! The Best of Moby Grape
By Doug Collette
December 12, 2007
Listen My Friends, a twenty track Moby Grape compilation, is arguably
superior to the now out-of-print double-cd Vintage simply because
this one focuses solely on the group's strengths.
The progression of Moby Grape sounds eminently natural as they evolve
from three-guitar interplay and five-part harmony singing in "Hey
Grandma" to the baroque psychedelia, "Can't Be So Bad" and "He" of
their first two albums. The folk and country oriented material that
comprised cuts from '69 and Truly Fine Citizen, such as "Ain't That A
Shame" are of a piece with "8:05" and "Sitting by the Window," from
the universally lauded eponymous debut. The eminently smooth
transitions of style (the blues a steadfast component all the while),
would confound anyone ignorant of the band's friction-fraught
dynamics, just another trait they shared with their higher-profile
Los Angeles peers The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield.
Moby Grape's music evolved coincidental with the group's slow
disintegration. Dysfunction aggravated by record company hype and
run-ins with the law, losing members along the way, the group
nevertheless kept progressing, retaining its own artistic compass,
with tracks such as "Bitter Wind" and "Indifference." "If You Can't
Learn from My Mistakes" is also proof positive Moby Grape maintained
a cohesive front even as the band shrank to a trio. They continued to
record and tour almost methodically while documenting, in original
material like "Changes, Circles Spinning," the turmoil they endured
as individuals and a group.
Listen My Friends is the first release since Moby Grape reclaimed
rights to its discography from long-standing legal entanglement and
it stands not just as a testament to the durability of the band's
music but their own deserved loyalty to it.