Welcome again to another edition of “That 70’s Guy’s – Retro Review”. This time around, I unearth the 1974 Canadian masterpiece Child of the Novelty from Mahogany Rush. Yes folks, the same Mahogany Rush that includes the iconic guitarist Frank Marino.
Like I have said many times, back in the day, we had no real way of collecting information – no World Wide Web, no YouTube, no social media and no real rock news radio stations. It was basically all word of mouth. So, in 1974, when my buddy Rod started bragging about an incredible guitar driven rock song called “A New Rock and Roll” (which was the flipside of the 45 single “Child of the Novelty”), we really didn’t know who Frank Marino was or, for that matter, that this was their second album.
It was shortly after the passing of Jimi Hendrix (who basically changed the whole guitar driven rock scene) that all the guitar prodigies emerged to honour him by keeping that flame alive. Jimi was the ultimate guitarist, but he wasn’t a guitar “hero” as we know them today. He was back to the roots; blues influenced with an emphasis on the six string that brought it to life more than anyone at the time of for that matter – ever! I always felt, out of this group that included Uli Jon Roth, Robin Trower and Ernie Isley (just to name a few), that Frank Marino was the closet resemblance to Hendrix both vocally, guitar playing and style.
Here’s a quote from Wikipedia – “His playing, however, is inspired by Hendrix (on the Gibson website he is described as “carrying Jimi’s psychedelic torch”), and Marino is notable for strong cover versions of Hendrix classics such as “Purple Haze” and “All Along The Watchtower“. He has been criticized by some as a Hendrix clone. Marino himself claims that he didn’t consciously set out to imitate Hendrix‘s style at all: “The whole style just came naturally. I didn’t choose it; it chose me.”
Mahoghany Rush was formed in Montreal in 1970 and consisted of Marino, along with members Paul Harwood on bass and Jimmy Ayoub on drums. It was the “Rush” trifecta here now in Canada, by having Mahogany Rush join our record collections alonside Canadian favourites Rush and Bullrush.
How about that cover? A dated far out 70’s version of “Where’s Waldo”. I used to stare at it for hours while listening.
OK, let’s slip it out of it’s sleeve, lower the needle and give it a spin!
Mahogany Rush – Child of the Novelty – Released 1974 on 20th Century Fox Records
- Look Outside – Right off the start, you get the classic trademark Mahogany Rush. Frank’s Hendrix-like vocals are even more similar when he talks his vocals. A sweet guitar solo and a fabulous fadeout of the “Lookout – side” chorus follows.
- Thru the Miky Way – Ayoub gets us going before Frank takes over. Very nice harmonic vocals here and, as per usual, Marino is ripping it up throughout the background. A slow plodding (but amazing) long solo. Maybe the best on the album takes us through to the end.
- Takin’ ‘Bout a Feelin’ – a heavy guitar driven album fave that got a lot of separate airplay back in the day. When we made up our cassette tapes, this one was always included. Whether it be for the mall, the beach, the river, the bush party, the schoolyard – you name it. This one was in attendance. Also a whammy bar experience.
- Child of the Novelty – the title track is an experience that I find hard to match. This song almost the “perfect” song. The soft pace and the tone of Frank’s guitar is unmatched anywhere. To this day the first solo is one of the best. I always felt that this is his best vocal performance as well. 44 years later and yep – goosebumps!! It was this song that I feel Frank Marino seperated himself from Hendrix and became Mahoagny Rush.
- Makin’ My Wave – another classic fave, sweet riff and probably the closet to Hendrix you will hear here. Despite all this, Ayoub and Harwood are constantly pounding keeping this baby afloat. A ripping clean sounding solo to boot with another classic Marino fade out!
- A New Rock and Roll – I don’t think an album side could start any better. “The” song that did it for us. Without this fast pace ripping rocker, we probably wouldn’t even be taking right now. A song dedicated to Rock and Roll and clearly one of the finest displays of guitarwork ever! Jimi who? The ending is an absolute madhouse! Can you hear me now Uli Jon Roth? I’ve probaly played this one 1000 times!
- Changing – tough to back up the last track but this short number really keeps the guitar lover’s ears entertained.
- Plastic Man – this one gets lost in all the hoopla of the others but it’s not to be forgotten. Its another quick guitar laced gem.
- Guitwar – a haunting song about war that is completely done with guitar sound effects. At the time it really freaked me out. Today, its maybe a bit overlong and would be a good intro to a song. None the less, it still rings true in today’s world.
- Chains of (S)pace – an absolute gem of an instrumental. Dreamy, magical, mystical come to mind. I remember sitting in the dark with the headphones on completely in a trance with all those thoughts a 14 year mind could endure. A great memory lesson listening to this again.
There you have it – 39 minutes of one of Canada’s finest and one of the best they have to offer. Mahogany Rush followed up this beauty with two more absolute gems – 1975’s “Strange Universe” and 1976’s “Mahogany Rush IV”. If this is up your alley, grab those two as a priority, you will NOT be disappointed. “It’s Begun to Rain” from “IV” is in my top 3 songs of ALL TIME!!
Frank Marino in any form is still on my bucket list. He is still healthy, relatively young (64) for todays standards and (as far as I know) hasn’t officially made a statement that he is retired, so my fingers are crossed that maybe one day that strike mark goes through his name. Other than that, my only real true memory of him came courtesy late night TV back in 1975 on Don Kirshners Rock Concert”. What a thrill to see and the reactions from my buddies the next morning were priceless. But, being the time that it was, we had to wait years to see it again. I still watch it now and again. I’m including it below.
I’ve always considered Frank Marino one of Canada’s unsung guitar heros. His comparison to Hendrix for the most part kept him off mainstreet AM radio and current popularity contests. However, for the guitar connoiseur, he is right at the top of fellow Canadians of the time – Rik Emmett, Alex Lifeson, Randy Bachman, Paul Naumann, Pat Travers, Neil Young and Myles Goodwyn.
One a quick sidenote to all these Hendrix comparisons. If you ever get a chance, check out on YouTube the song “Buddy”. It is Frank’s dedication to Jimi and one of Mahoagny Rush’s best songs ever!
“From a land where dragons stood
A young boy dared what no man could
Born of fire and ice and wood, he came here full of life
Well he loved and laughed and floated past
The echoes of a velvet mind that whispered fairy tales untold”
- Child of a Novelty
Below is the link to the three songs they played on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert in 1975. The first song is “A New Rock and Roll”.
Give it a view to witness this guitar wizard in action.