In the last collection of vinyl I purchased, one of the intriguing artists was a group named Sea Level. At first I paid it no mind, but when i found multiple albums, I started wondering. There was a lot of jazz, blues, guitar rock, and some psychedelic music in there, so I wondered what kind of music this group played.
Looking them up on the internet, I found the Wiki page and discovered I had all five of the studio albums issued between 1977 and 1980. The only albums missing were a couple ‘best of’ albums issued in the 1990’s. They were described as a Southern Rock/fusion jam band that was originally an offshoot from the Allman Brothers Band, so i was very interested. I decided to listen to them in chronological order.
The first album is the self titled Sea Level, and it really sounds like what i would largely call jazz fusion. There’s piano, keyboard, brass, and solid guitar. It would probably be good upbeat dinner music. The track Shake a Leg really caught my attention. The second side was mostly instrumental jams, but I found it really motivating and good music to listen to while working on cleaning vinyl.
The album was good enough it made me start rethinking some of the other bands that the previous owner had several albums for – it seems his taste in music aligned relatively well with mine. Artists like Thin Lizzy (8 albums), Little Feat (First 8 Albums), The Marshall Tucker Band (8 albums), Blue Oyster Cult (4 albums), The Dixie Dregs (4 albums), and Traffic (9 albums – all but the 1994 reissue.) These might form a lot of my December listening – if I like them.
Part of what makes the albums so compelling to play is their condition. These are early pressings from the 1970’s, but most of them were stored in upgraded sleeves almost from the day they were purchased. They may not be quite as nice as modern Mo-Fi sleeves, but they’re close. The owner said he felt he was smart to “invest” in better sleeves, as they really made a difference. Even the albums with beat up jackets are still in near pristine condition. The very first collection of 78 albums I bought in March of 2015 had these sleeves, and i didn’t appreciate how nice it kept the albums. Now I’m always excited when i see them, as odds are the collection was well cared for.
Back to Sea Level
The second album was titled Cats on the Coast, and it started out very nice as well. It has a little bit of a Disco influence in the first few songs, and overall it feels a little softer an more jazz than Southern Rock in my opinion. It was still good upbeat background music, but I wasn’t as impressed as the first album.
The third Sea Level album titled On the Edge starts off with a bit more of a funk feel. It’s off to a much better start than the previous album. But it’s still just driving, energetic music that doesn’t inspire me, but it doesn’t distract me. It might be good office music.
The fourth album, Long Walk on a Short Pier, had some weird skipping at the beginning, and it looks like there’s a lot of defects in the album. It sounded a lot like the third album started out, so i just decided to skip it (no pun intended).
Album five is titled Ball Room. Honestly, I din’t finish it. The music just didn’t speak to me enough. By the time I got to this point, i was so uninspired that side 2 of this album sat on the counter while I played other albums. I ultimately decided to get rid of all the Sea Level albums, and I forgot to take pictures of them before I got rid of them!
One of my goals for December is to have all those albums I purchased in November processed. Either cleaned and ready for sale, donated, or on a shelf in my queue for personal listening. I’m about half way through them (including 75 cleaned today!), so I’m on a good pace. And while the Sea Level albums didn’t impress once I experienced the entire set of albums, some of the other artists might become favorites. That’s part of the joy – listening to new music, finding new stuff, and just expanding my experiences in general.