"The Best of Mountain" (Columbia/Legacy; 1973 / 2003)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Whenever I listen to Mountain it always surprises me how heavy the band is. I mean, yeah, this was back in the early days of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, but Mountain has a heavy sound all their own - what Sabbath probably would have sounded like if they'd been from the South instead of Britain.

This collection, first released on LP back in 1973, contains twelve of the band's best known tracks, including well-known Mountain hits like "Mississippi Queen," "Nantucket Sleighride" and "Theme From an Imaginary Western" and lesser-known tracks like "The Animal Trainer and the Toad" and "Don't Look Around." Also featured is a raging cover of Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven."

As with all Mountain CDs, the real stars are the guitars of Leslie West. West knew when to crunch and when to rip into a lead - and knew whether or not that lead should be a bluesy laid-back one or a blisteringly fast one. 

This 2003 re-release also contains four bonus tracks: 1969's "Long Red" and "Dreams of Milk & Honey," 1970's "Silver Paper" and 1971's "Travellin' in the Dark." The remastering sounds great - this CD sounds much better than the original vinyl.

"The Best of Mountain" is a great place to start for those unfamiliar with the band but who are fans of early Sabbath, Deep Purple and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

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"Nantucket Sleighride" (Columbia/Legacy; 1971 / 2005)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

This is one of those times that I'll probably get hate mail from longtime Mountain fans but I just didn't think that "Nantucket Sleighride" was as interesting an album as "Climbing."

Now, I realize that I'm listening to an album that's almost thirty years old but it still sounds much more dated than anything on "Climbing." The music on "Nantucket Sleighride" sounds like music from 1971 and doesn't have that timeless quality that songs like "Mississippi Queen" have. The production, although "digitally remastered from the original tapes" and "personally overseen by Leslie West and Corky Lang," still sounds a little murky, much like I'm sure it did in 1971. And the songs, although certainly entertaining, don't have the punch and evergreen quality that many of the tracks on "Climbing" did.

All that being said, I'm not trying to convince you that "Nantucket Sleighride" is a bad CD. In fact, it's a pretty good one, especially if you're a fan of the band or the era. And I love the slide guitar on track 9, "The Great Train Robbery." But if I were looking for a more definitive collection of Mountain tunes, I'd either go with "Climbing" or I'd take the easy way out and take "The Best of Mountain."

In addition to the re-mastering done here, the CD also includes a bonus track: a live version of "Travellin' in the Dark (To E.M.P.)" 

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"Climbing" (Columbia/Legacy; 1970)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Legendary guitarist Leslie West was there at the beginning, when heavy metal was originally being forged by bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and, of course, West's own Mountain.

Columbia/Legacy Records are re-releasing several of Mountain's most popular albums, digitally remastered from the original master tapes, and fans of hard rock now have the opportunity to hear Mountain's very influential music in its purest form.

The first of these re-releases, "Climbing," was originally released in 1970 but sounds as fresh and strong as it did over thirty years ago. Some of that, of course, has to do with the re-mastering, which is crystal clear here, but some of it also has to do with the band's timeless sound. You've heard Mountain before, whether you realize it or not. The classic "Mississippi Queen" is a track from "Climbing," as is another of the band's most popular tunes, "Theme From an Imaginary Western." If that still doesn't ring a bell, think of Mountain as Molly Hatchet meets Black Sabbath meets Eric Clapton. It's pure, vintage heavy metal and it still rocks well today. (Okay - maybe some of the lyrics are a little too Turtles-esque. It's hard not to crack a nostalgic smile when a band is singing "Open your heart and let the sunshine in!")

"Climbing" is worth picking up not just because it's a classic album that has a place in every heavy metal CD collection but because it has aged so well and it still sounds great today. 

The newly remastered version of "Climbing" also contains a previously unreleased, live version of "For Yasgur's Farm" (which also appears on the CD in a studio version) and notes from Leslie West and Corky Laing.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright 2008 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Sep 2022 13:59:47 -0400 .