Featuring vocals reminiscent of Ian Gillan and keys that may call to mind (dare I say it?) Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson, Touch produced one of America’s early progressive rock albums – and one of its finest. Yet despite having fans and supporters such as Kerry Livgren, Jimi Hendrix, and Mick Jagger, Touch remained relatively obscure, as bandleader and keyboardist Don Gallucci refused to tour the album. Unfortunately, that spelled the end for the band, and they never released a second album. Thankfully, we have an impressive selection of songs from their lone effort. Here are some of the highlights:
“We Feel Fine,” a rollicking opener of a song, makes for a fine introduction. Jeff Hawks immediately puts on display his impressive vocal range, but Gallucci shines on the organ, and Joey Newman gets to show off a little bit on guitar.
The Beatles come to mind upon hearing “The Spiritual Death of Howard Greer,” an acid-rock epic that tells the tale of a sad stick in the mud. It may remind listeners of “A Day in the Life” or a darker version of “The Diary of Horace Wimp.”
Odysseus and his crew may disagree, but “Down at Circe’s Place” is a wonderful tune and the most psychedelic piece on the album. An instrumental (although there are some spacey wordless vocals courtesy of Hawks), the tune opens with a catchy piano riff and features a wonderful cacophony of sound at the climax – sans guitar: Gallucci’s keys and John Bordonaro’s percussion drive the madness.
The second and final epic on the album, “Seventy-Five,” is the strongest and most progressive track. Hawks can shriek like Gillan or croon like Greg Lake depending on what is called for; it is an impressive vocal performance to say the least. Newman finally earns a spot front and center to display his talents on guitar, and he does not disappoint.
This is not an album to ignore: the musicianship is top-notch and the overall quality something you will not typically find in some of these older, more obscure releases. It’s time to give Touch a go.
Stay tuned for number twenty!