THREE MAN ARMY - A Third of a Lifetime (1970) & Mahesha (1974)
Three Man Army was a forgettable British hard rock band of the early '70s, playing period guitar-slanted music that sounded like warm-up fodder for bigger stadium acts. The constants in the lineup were Adrian Gurvitz and Paul Gurvitz, both of whom had been in Gun. After Gun expired, Adrian went to America to play with Buddy Miles, while Paul formed Parrish & Gurvitz. The pair reunited, however, to record the debut Three Man Army album, A Third of a Lifetime, using several different drummers (including Miles, Carmine Appice from Vanilla Fudge, and Mike Kellie from Spooky Tooth). Tony Newman, formerly of Sounds Incorporated and the Rod Stewart Group, joined for the next (and final) two Three Man Army albums. While there were rehearsals for a fourth LP, it was never started, as Newman left to join David Bowie's band and the Gurvitz brothers teamed up with Ginger Baker to record three albums as the Baker Gurvitz Army.
The first Three Man Army album, despite its confidently trio-based title, actually teamed Paul Gurvitz and Adrian Gurvitz with a number of different drummers, including Buddy Miles, Spooky Tooth's Mike Kellie, and Vanilla Fudge's Carmine Appice. Though the Gurvitzes were able at mimicking the cliches of early-'70s hard rock, their material was ordinary to the point of dullness, and their guitar soloing stereotypical almost to the point of unwitting self-parody. A good number of British bands in the Led Zeppelin-Deep Purple spectrum did this kind of stuff better. There were occasional glimmers of something that went outside the genre's narrowest bounds a bit of pop harmonizing in "Three Man Army," acoustic guitar flavorings for "Agent Man" and "See What I Took," blues-soul organ improvisation in "Midnight," a strange lyrical grounding for "Butter Queen" ("if your name is Barbara, how come they call you butter queen?" they ask rhetorically). The two best tracks were the least typical "Together" is much more Beatlesque early-'70s rock with a hippie attitude (and a synthesizer) than it is hard rock, and "A Third of a Lifetime" is a genuinely pretty orchestrated instrumental ballad.
For Three Man Army's second album, their power trio lineup stabilized with the recruitment of Tony Newman for the drummer's chair (the first album, A Third of a Lifetime, had featured several drummers). A Third of a Lifetime had been journeyman early British hard rock with a few glimpses of more satisfyingly gentle and melodic moods. Unfortunately, Mahesha put even greater emphasis on their pedestrian hard rock chops and even more pedestrian material, which at its best could only approximate a sub-Led Zeppelin (as the chorus of "Come Down to Earth" certainly does). Sure, you could hear differing inflections from time to time, like the funky rhythm of "Can't Leave the Summer," the tender pop melodics in sections of "Take a Look at the Light," and weirdest of all the pompous instrumental arrangement of "My Yiddish Mama," which segues into the far more conventional strutting hard rock of "Hold On." Ultimately, however, it's bottom-bill fare that brings to mind images of restless audiences starting to catcall for the headliners. Mahesha was also issued by Reprise under the title Three Man Army.
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