Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

“The Return”: Folk Opus – No Joke*

For their one and only recording on Elektra Records, The Ship would seamlessly link their group’s name with the album’s title and concept:  A Contemporary Folk Music Journey.

The Ship LP

The provocative quote on the album’s back cover — “I’m a sailor of the waters and the sun – I can fight the rains but have no weapons for the calm” — gamely informs us that the most difficult storms can be the ones that rage within.

How curious to find in the producer’s chair, Gary Usher, who will be forever associated with songs about burning rubber and navigating those gnarly waves.  As with Spanky & Our Gang’s Without Rhyme or Reason, this song cycle finds the songs all interlinked for continuous sound from start to finish – which would explain why this recording of “The Return” sounds, at the very beginning of the song, as if it had jumped from a moving train:

“The Return”

The Ship (1971)

Recorded in 1971 during the peak of the ‘Album Age’ for a label that was not really known for its singles (“Light My Fire” aside), the fact that Elektra issued no 45s from this concept album should surprise no one.

The concept itself was authored by Steve Melshenker and Steve Cowan (two of the group’s three guitarists named Steve), with the music performed by the following personnel:

Steve Melshenker:  6-string & 2nd lead guitar/vocals

Steve Cowan:  12-string guitar/vocals

Steve Reinwand:  lead guitar/dobro/harmonica/vocals

Mark Hamby:  piano/flute/vocals

Todd Bradshaw:  4- & 8-string bass

Tim Scott:  cello


*Hats off to (Roy) Harper



once upon a time

(image courtesy of Dave Toedter)


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