Pearl Handle Band – Pearl Handle Band (FULL ALBUM STREAM)

    Pearl Handle Band –

    1 Better and Better
    2 Going Back Down Again
    3. Can’t Live With You / Can’t Live Without You Blues
    4. Lucille
    5. Young Stuff
    6. Down In The Alley
    7. From Four Till Late
    8. Call For The Doctor
    9. Stranded On A Dead End Street
    10. Late Night Lover
    11. Yes, No, Maybe So
    12. Nasty Ways

    The locals would say the Pearl Handle Band legend emerged at a barn party in Illinois corn country, on Halloween, under a brilliant, harvest-style full moon. The year was 1974. The auspicious debut brought three communities together. George Millspaugh, lead singer and guitarist, was raised just a couple miles away in the farm town of Waterman. Guitarist Dan Hurc and bassist Mickey Gentile were products of the northwest side of Chicago. And drummer Dean Aliotta hailed from suburban Berwyn.
    Millspaugh had come to the band schooled in Chicago blues with an appreciation for country rockers Marshall Tucker and Charlie Daniels. He delivered piercing, glass shattering, vibrato-soaked vocals backed by fierce and fast licks on his red Gibson SG guitar. He would brag he had been the speediest typist in high school. Millspaugh, who also had a large physical presence, would often thrill crowds with a head high karate kick or a big swig of Jack Daniels, as he cried out for “ammunition.”
    Hurc previously played bass, influenced by a father who favored the button accordion, but had committed to guitar. While not yet fluent on his instrument his musical instincts held sway. With a long-held love of rock music but a yearning desire for the blues, he was both the perfect sponge to absorb Millspaugh’s knowledge and the creative driver of the band’s chunky chord structures that grounded the band’s originals. Hurc’s instrumental riffs provided the members full license to contribute lyrical content.
    Gentile had returned home after a college stint at SIU Carbondale and used his new-found freedom to stretch out with the band. He consistently delivered a compact, solid, low-end bass that underpinned the quickly developing twin guitar work of Millspaugh and Hurc. As aficionados of double guitar threats like Thin Lizzy, The Allman Brothers and Wishbone Ash, Gentile and Hurc pushed Pearl Handle into new territory. With a sense of business and fashion, Gentile set a standard of professionalism for the band.
    Aliotta was the youngest of three brothers, the eldest having made his mark as bassist in the Rotary Connection. Both Aliotta and Hurc had done a turn with Aliotta’s middle brother in the band Hoona. A rocker at heart, but loving outlaw country, Aliotta’s signature smile exposed a laid-back sensibility, his drumming not so much a heartbeat but the rumbling approach of a freight train or a herd of cattle, his double kicks accenting a flood of sound that put feet on the dance floor and kept them there.
    Making their bones on the college circuit and sorting their way through their various influences, the Pearl Handle Band found themselves in demand, opening for Journey and Van Halen and appearing at rousing summer concerts. As the only band to book in for three appearances in a single year at Chicagofest, two on the rock stage and one on the country stage, the band was genre crossing long before the 80’s rock sound became the mainstay of modern country decades later.
    Six years after the barn dance in the cornfields of Illinois the band found themselves in Nashville recording with producer Nelson Larkin and famed engineer Ron “Snake” Reynolds. Armed with their originals and a couple tunes offered by their producer the boys discovered the powers that be were not quite equipped for the sound they were delivering. Not pop country and not quite ZZ Top, they were adrift among the marketing silos, with untamed amounts of whiskey, women and Marshall amplifiers.
    The album got finished, for the most part, but then the label folded leaving Pearl Handle Band with a choice. A soft implosion followed. Millspaugh worn down by the road, decided to take a sabbatical. Over time bootlegged versions of the studio sessions made their way to cassette tapes distributed through interstate truck stops. In that way the band and the sound lived on. But here and now, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of a magical night which birthed the Pearl Handle Band, they finally get their due.

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