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Last Band Standing (5 Disc Box Set)

The Ides Of March

Baker & Taylor2015

Review by David Bowling

 

The Ides Of March were a band that could have, a band that should have, but in the final analysis a band that only almost did.

The Ides Of March was formed in the mid-1960’s by teenagers Jim Peterik, Bob Bergland, Larry Millas, and Mike Borsh. They had immediate success with a moderate national hit in 1966 with “You Wouldn’t Listen.” By the end of the decade they had added a brass section and produced their biggest hit “Vehicle,” which reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 during 1970. There have been some stops and starts for the band but a half century later they are still standing.

In celebration of their 50th anniversary, they have released a definitive 5-disc box set covering all parts of their career. Their first four studio albums, Vehicle (1970), Common Bond (1971), World Woven (1972), and Midnight Oil (1973) are presented in all their remastered glory. There are tracks from their early days and their comeback in the 1990’s. The fifth disc is a DVD of a live performance of 15 songs recorded May 31, 2014, at Chicago’s House of Blues. Just about everything and anything that you may have wanted to hear from the band is here.

Their sound was more soulful than Blood, Sweat & Tears and had a harder edge than Chicago, which may have been the rub for long term commercial success. Their first two studio albums were probably superior to those of the BS&T and Chicago but were just out of the mainstream. That fact, combined with a similar musical approach, made it difficult for them to compete for essentially the same fan base.

Vehicle and Common Bond are a trip back to the early 1970’s in a good way. The albums have a flow and their use of the brass instruments as equal partners to the guitars and keyboards was unique and creative at the time. The vocals have a gritty and soulful quality.

There are several new tracks that bring their recording career full circle. “Who Am I” features the brass section and would have been at home on their early albums. “Too Far To Turn Around” is a group effort, while the title track features guest Steve Cropper.

Their concert footage brings the band into the present a half-century after their birth. Old television appearances, new interviews, and rare photos are some of the included extras.

The Ides Of March are one of those bands you cannot help but like and appreciate once you have heard them. Last Band Standing: The Definitive 50 Year Anniversary Collection is a wonderful ride through their career.  A necessary release for any fan of the band or of good music.

 

Rating: ****

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