Mountain – Climbing! (1970)

“A new band named Mountain delivered their debut album on March 7, 1970, then watched the cheekily named Climbing! quickly move into the Billboard Top 20 on the strength of the smash hit single and future classic rock staple, ‘Mississippi Queen.’ Sounds simple, right? The story of Mountain’s quick ascension to mainstream fame is a little more complicated than that. Mountain was actually named after the solo album released by singer and guitarist Leslie West, formerly of the Vagrants, in July 1969. This had been produced by bassist and talented arranger Felix Pappalardi, who had spent the previous years working in close cahoots with the world’s first rock supergroup, Cream. Less than a month later, the newly rechristened group, rounded out by organist Steve Knight and drummer N.D. Smart, found themselves on stage at Woodstock, which immediately transformed these and other relative unknowns into virtual household names. Keenly aware of their good fortune and perfect timing, West and Pappalardi quickly moved to capitalize by recruiting drummer Laurence ‘Corky’ Laing and getting to work on the first proper Mountain album. Climbing! wound up straddling popular music’s transition from the ’60s to the ’70s like few contemporary releases: simultaneously carrying the torch for the Cream and Jimi Hendrix Experience-based power trios that had been so dominant in the dying decade, whiled fully embracing the new one’s nascent hard-rock developments. ‘Theme for an Imaginary Western,’ which had already been previewed at Woodstock, harked back to Pappalardi’s eclectic work with Cream (and was in fact co-written with Jack Bruce), as did the widescreen dramatics of ‘Boys in the Band’ did too. ‘For Yasgur’s Farm’ obviously paid tribute to the festival site and all the flower children that had attended, while ‘The Laird’ saluted fast-fading psychedelia with its gentle whimsy and ringing sitars. … And of course there was the aforementioned ‘Mississippi Queen,’ which earned its signature cowbell intro only after multiple unsatisfactory takes forced Laing to count in his exhausted band mates, and came to signify everything Mountain ever was, or would be. …”
How Mountain’s First Album Deftly Straddled Two Decades
W – Climbing!
YouTube: Climbing!

Felix Pappalardi and Leslie West performing together as Mountain, April, 1970 in San Francisco, California.

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