Classic Rock Bottom

Who? Henry Paul Band

When? 1979

Album Title? Grey Ghost Review? Yes!

Henry Paul was a rhythm guitarist and vocalist for the Outlaws. He left the group in 1977 after its third album. He formed the Henry Paul Band in 1978 and signed to Atlantic later that year. Grey Ghost is the band's debut, and it is drenched in Southern rock influences as well as those of '70s West Coast bands such as the Eagles. The opening cut, "So Long," combines folk, country-rock, and the over the top guitar punch of bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers, while "Crossfire" sounds like the Joe Walsh-era Eagles jamming with the Pure Prairie League and "Foolin'" has the Byrds' signature all over it. But to say that Paul and his band merely copied what was out there wouldn't be fair. Grey Ghost is a fine album; the songcraft is tight and crisp, the lead and harmony vocals are crystalline, and the production is unobtrusive. But those twin guitar leads that sound like they come from the Allmans' "Ramblin' Man" are a bit derivative sounding. The title track is the best thing on the record. Written in 1977, it is an uncredited but undisguised tribute to the late Ronnie VanZant of Lynyrd Skynyrd, who had perished two years earlier in a plane crash: "And the autumn wind whispers through the tall and lonely pines/And the hour of fate is drawing close at hand/A free bird falling from the sky/Brings an end to another Southern man...." Despite the close harmonies and softer edges of the first half of the disc, the second half entrenches itself more in the raw Southern boogie and hard honky tonk rock that defines the genre, from "I Don't Need You No More" to "Lonely Dreamer," the crunchy "You Really Know (What I Mean)," and the closer, which reverts back to the more airy sound of side one with added percussion by ace Joe Lala, who guests. The only loser is the idiotic "One Night Stands." A hard rocker, even at the end of the 1970s they should have known better than this. Still, it's a small mark against one of the more obscure but worthy albums from the era.

Grey Ghost

1. So Long
2. Crossfire
3. Foolin'
4. Wood Wind
5. Grey Ghost
6. I Don't Need You No More
7. Lonely Dreamer
8. One-Night Stands
9. You Really Know (What I Mean)
10. All I Need

Availability: Around $15 new.

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I'm looking forward to hearing this again.  I picked it up on vinyl a few years ago.

The song So Long was on their last studio album, re-recorded.  It's a great song.

The template for cool Southern Rock tunes is on display here, and yes its predictable, but when done well its got that irresistible jam fell to it.  This is done well...

I hear a good bit of that early Marshall Tucker guitar sound in there but the songs certainly are married to the Southern Rock genre.  There are twists to be heard though, the reprieve in Grey Ghost around the 4:30 mark broke the template quite nicely and then burst back into the full Freebird jam you'd expect.

There were a couple misses though - I didnt really get into Foolin or One-Night Stands, but I loved the opener, So Long, as it had a very timeless feel to it.  Sounds great!  Welcome back sir! 

I love Henry Paul's voice.  And that lead track is just terrific.  I don't know enough about the band to know who's singing the second track, Crossfire, but it's jammin' too.  If there is one thing you can expect with southern rock, it's amazing guitar work.  This one certainly doesn't disappoint in that respect.  Speaking of southern rock, channel 30 on XM is now Lynyrd Skynyrd Southern Rock radio.

Grey Ghost kicks all kind of ass during that intro.  This one is about ol' Robert E. Lee.  I'm a southern boy, born and raised, but I don't have any hangups regarding the confederacy.  It is what it is.  I was just going through a box of my sons stuff this morning and he had a confederate belt buckle that looked cool as hell.  I'd never wear it due to all the issues surrounding that kind of thing, but it was cool nonetheless.  Just like this song.

I'm not saying the album is a masterpiece.  There is certainly some filler.  That final track makes me think of a song like Brandy You're A Fine Girl, but not as good.  

Overall, the first three songs I mentioned are great, with killer guitar work, but the album as a whole is just okay.  I enjoyed this post though!

I'll also add that I would love to hear some obscure, lost southern rock, if someone had some, of course.

I have the one Danny Joe Brown solo album, thats pretty cool along with a handful of Molly Hatchet albums!  Also, have a couple of Doc Holliday albums that I like a lot as well.  I have some Outlaws, a couple Pure Prarie Leagues, Devon Allman, Lots of Marshall Tucker, Skynyrd and Allman Brothers, and those first 2 .38 Special albums are not heard much, outside of that not much obscurity in my collection...

@ RJhog

Obscure is my middle name, but you probably weren't referring to me. It might be Toobscure for you.

I do have few Scandinavian albums by what I thought will be Hair Rock bands and they ended up being something between Hard Rock and Southern Rock. Don't know if that counts.
Oh, and I bought a CD few years back, that had what I think is a strange combination. Southern Rock performed by an Eastern European band. LOL. They do sing in English, though and people must be buying their music since they have released more than one album. Black Stone Cherry and  Lynyrd Skynyrd (whoever they are) are among the bands influences.

The first Southern Rock song I heard was Freebird. I liked it a lot.

The first Southern Rock album I bought was Blackfoot - Marauder and I loved it. Even bought the CD remastered.

I also remember asking someone to recommend me some other Southern Rock albums when I crossed the pond and they suggested Molly Hatchet. I found Flirtin' With Disaster in the discount bin and was immediately drawn to that Frank Frazetta cover, but on the end it didn't do much for me. Unfortunately, neither does this album. Seems like every Southern Rock album is the same. You hear one, you heard them all (Marauder being the only exception, not for the originality, but for the quality of songs.)

Henry Paul didn't win me over, but perhaps Doc Holliday will.


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