LEE MICHAELS
The Complete A&M Album Collection
(Manifesto Records)

 

One of the first American rock artists signed to A&M Records, Lee Michaels had a brief but supercharged career in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Before they were bought out by Universal, A&M was owned by trumpet-master Herb Alpert and his partner Jerry Moss. A huge number of major rock acts from the U.S. and the U.K. passed through the ranks of A&M including their biggest money makers, Peter Frampton and Cat Stevens. Frampton and Cat were just the tip of A&M’s sonic iceberg but Lee Michaels was the first and in hindsight there was a price to be paid for that. Lee’s first two A&M albums – Carnival Of Life (1967) and Recital (1968) - are still considered two of the finest progressive pop-rock albums of the 1960s, although this was before the words “progressive rock” were even coined by the mainstream music media. That theory of whether Lee Michaels was pop or prog was to end with the Summer of ’69 Lp release of Lee Michaels. Despite the surreal success of that album, A&M truly misdirected Lee around that time, even claiming the ridiculous excuse that Recital “cost” too much to make. This as A&M would soon be making a mint with Cat Stevens and Frampton just a few years later. I guess A&M lost The Move that way too, as two years after Shazam they reformed as Electric Light Orchestra. On Recital, Lee Michaels literally invented American progressive rock with his myriad of keyboard sounds, including tack piano, organ and harpsichord – predating the rapid rise to fame of Wakeman (another A&M artist) and the now late, great Keith Emerson by several years. From there on out A&M's handling of Lee Michaels was a shocking disappointment yet, Recital has held up superbly now for nearly 50 years and it shows no sign of losing its influence on fans of the finest West Coast rock from the late 1960s. In early 2016, 20 years after One Way Records first reissued Lee’s catalog on compact disc, L.A. based Manifesto Records has done a fine job on their seven CD Lee Michaels box set. Manifesto’s The Complete A&M Album Collection finally sets the record straight regarding the seven albums Lee Michaels released on A&M Records. In addition to Lee’s first three solo albums mentioned above, also included here are: Barrel (1970), 5th (1971), Space And First Takes (1972) and Live (1973). Produced for release by Manifesto’s Dan Perloff and featuring liner notes by Brett Milano, The Complete A&M Album Collection comes with an excellent photo-filled booklet that helps to clear up the mystery of this early rock hero, who later turned restauranteur. Perhaps the best thing about Manifesto's box set—aside from having all the Lee Michaels A&M albums under one roof—is the first rate CD sound quality as remastered by highly regarded sound man Bill Inglot and Dave Schultz. Manifesto has some interesting current pop-rock artists on their roster. With The Complete A&M Album Collection they also offer a unique slant on American music reissues and are even planning an overhaul of the Turtles back catalog from their “White Whale” years. For an amazing glimpse into the foundations of American rock music and one of the true originals who paved the way for so many others, listen to Recital - an album that still enlightens and that will surely make you want to groove along to the rest of these rock classics included in The Complete A&M Album Collection by music great Lee Michaels. www.manifesto.com



 

 
   
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