Alpha Band – Debut/Self-titled

Artist: Alpha Band
Genre: Indie Rock
Title: self-titled
Format: Vinyl
Musicians:T-Bone Burnett – vocals, guitar, piano,David Jackson – bass
David Mansfield – violin, mandolin, guitar, Matt Betton – drums, Steven Soles – vocals, guitar, K.O. Thomas – keyboards, Rosanna Taplin – background vocals, Roscoe West – background vocals

This is T-Bone Burnett’s first band, before he went solo. The Alpha Band was a rock band formed in July 1976 from the remnants of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue. Band members were T-Bone Burnett, Steven Soles, and David Mansfield, plus sidemen who differed from record to record and included: David Kemper (later drummer for Bob Dylan and Jerry Garcia Band) and former Beatle Ringo Starr.

From Wikipedia: The Alpha Band reputedly signed a huge-money deal with Arista Records, Clive Davis’s label. But their three albums were remarkably obscure, even upon release: almost straight to the cut out bin. Somehow, the Alphas never gained traction. The group is now recalled mostly as a launching pad for Mansfield, and even more for launching Burnett. Soles went behind the scenes and retired as an artist while writing and producing for films and television. When the band disbanded in 1979, all three members began producing albums for other artists.

The copy of this LP I have is an official promo copy with the plain light blue Arista label. Yes, I found it in the “cutout” bin and got it for $2, sealed, which is a testament to the obscurity.

Unfortunately, this is not a good LP in my opinion. Sonically, it is perfect, but musically, it leaves much to be desired. I can highlight a couple of things though. The songs, “Interview” and “Cheap Perfume” give us a glimpse into T-Bone Burnett’s career as a solo artist and producer that would follow. My favorite cut in this LP is “interviews”. As for the rest, it is pretty much composed of bad attempts at different flavors that do leave a sour or odd taste.

Side one:
“Interviews” (T-Bone Burnett, Bob Neuwirth, Larry Poons)
“Cheap Perfume” (Burnett, Neuwirth, J. Steven Soles)
“Keep It in the Family” (Soles)
“Ten Figures” (Burnett, Fleming)
“Wouldn’t You Know” (Soles)
Side two:
“Madman” (Burnett, Soles)
“The Dogs” (Burnett, Fleming, Phil Taylor)
“Arizona Telegram” (Soles)
“Dark Eyes” (Burnett, Fleming)
“Last Chance to Dance” (Burnett, Carson)