An odd story this, one that involves subversion, possession, and the spirits of bands past. Reign Ghostwere happily playing around the Ontario scene in the late '60s, when they found themselves surreptitiously being taken over by former members of another local group, Christopher Columbus Discovery of New Lands Band. Guitarist Bob Bryden and singer Lynda Squires were the first to infiltrate, followed by bassist Joe Gallant, and later Jerry Dufek. Now thoroughly possessed by Columbus, Reign Ghost released their self-titled debut in 1969. Too many specters of the past, however, led to the lineup's collapse; however, the Ghost was resurrected by Bryden and Squires, with a new rhythm section along and a second singing guitarist to battle axes with Bryden. The suitably transformed Ghost promptly recorded yet another eponymous album, its title appended with "FeaturingLynda Squires." This lineup, however, didn't even survive long enough to celebrate the release of the set. The members all went their separate ways, and the Ghost's reign was at an end. However, the spirits weren't totally exorcised, and the Ghost rattles once more across this reissue. Haunted by the blues, there are some particularly luscious licks on "Ain't It Great," while the flashy leads and incendiary riffing on "Breast Stroke Blues" slough into psychedelia on "Enola Gay" and across the jazzy excursions of "Mother's Got Troubles." However, the ubiquitous musical differences that brought about the band's many dissolutions are equally in evidence. "Breadbox" is a virtual rewrite of the Jefferson Airplane's "The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil," "Solar Nice" is indeed quite Nice-esque, the deliriously poppy "Pudsy's Parable" pushes toward the kind of quirky bubblegum favored by Chinnichap, and "More Than I" surfs the rainbow straight into fist-in-the-air psychedelia-laced rock. Beyond the excellent blues numbers, "More" is arguably the most interesting and creatively successful track on the set, although experimental fans may prefer the free-form "Long Day Journey No. 2" or bluesy jazz of "Mother's Got Troubles." Variation isn't necessarily a sin, but diversity can be one's downfall, and it's obvious from this set that the Ghost couldn't hold together long. It's a fitting epitaph, regardless. AMG.
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