Cargoe - same (1972, US, ruralrock w/southern feel, Ardent vinylrip, single wav + cue, DR11, artwork)

 *** Reviewed by great fellow Adamus67 ***

Cargoe have the distinction of not only releasing one fantastic power pop album in 1972 but also being label mates with Big Star and making an impression on Eric Burdon. Unfortunately, bad luck and other negative factors brought them to an early end and made them stop. But now they have a reformed and released a new album with songs that they've kept on the back burner from the seventies and eighties. In this interview, bass player and singer Max Wisley talks about drugs, great concerts, memories of living in Memphis, playing together again and recording finally a follow up to their debut.

Cargoe is an American Band from Tulsa, Oklahoma, originally formed in the late 1960s as Rubbery Cargoe, whose lone studio album, engineered by phonon Terry Manning, was released on Memphis Tennessee’s legendary Ardent Records in 1972. They moved to Memphis, TN in 1970 with the help of legendary Radio Personalities Robert W. Walker and the infamous Jim Peters, to begin their recording career with legendary producer Dan Penn of the Box Tops fame. They later signed with Ardent Records where they recorded alongside cult icon Big Star in the original National Street Ardent Studios location, as well as the new studio built on Madison Avenue in 1971.

Keyboardist/guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Bill Phillips and guitarist/bassist/vocalist/songwriter Max Wisley formed the pop/rock quartet Rubbery Cargoe in the mid 1960s. The Tulsa based group went through various incarnations, eventually choosing drummer /vocalist/songwriter Tim Benton and lead guitarist /vocalist/songwriter Tom Richard and later changed the name to Cargoe.

Cargoe were first-rate musicians who epitomized that funky Tulsa Sound every bit as well as Leon Russell or The Dwight Twilley Band, to name two acts with which they share musical heritage. Their peers in Tulsa went on to back artists like Eric Clapton, Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, Bob Seger, Kris Kristofferson, and Moon Martin. The legendary status of Ardent Studios in Memphis has continued to grow year-by-year, as dedicated fans of power pop cult heroes Big Star have sought out more information about the organization that originally released their albums.

The group eventually ended up re-recording the entire album at Ardent Studios due to a technical problem with the tapes from Penn's studio, and it was finally released in early 1972. Ardent has remained to this day ahead of the curve technically, and that tip-top sound quality comes through as always on Cargoe's lone album. It doesn't matter how good a recording sounds if the songs aren't there, and Cargoe more than delivers the goods on that count.

Even though it was released on the Anglo pop-obsessed Ardent label, this isn't a power pop album, it's really more a hybrid of Southern rock and progressive rock. However, the group's songs are very tightly constructed, and stay away from the jammy nature of many of their contemporaries. Along with "Feel Alright," there are a few more real barnburners on the album, including "Time" and "Thousand Peoples Song." But the group also created some great mellower material, including the beautiful "I Love You Anyway," which was released as their second Ardent single in late 1972.

The story of Cargoe's records commercially is much the same as what befell Big Star. The label worked hard to promote the album, and the second single release of "Feel Alright" again gained some radio action. But the distribution problems of Stax (which handled Ardent releases) made the records hard to find for those who wanted to buy them. It's often estimated that only a few thousand of each of Big Star's albums made it out the door, and these days Cargoe's album seems to be even less common than those are. After a brief tour for the album's release, the band returned to Memphis and broke up shortly after.

While Big Star has enjoyed a remarkable second act years after the original band's breakup, their equally worthy labelmate unfortunately hasn't been as lucky. Cargoe was available briefly as a Japanese import CD, and the only domestic re-release of their music was an excellent live CD released by producer Terry Manning's Lucky Seven label. It appears that disc, too, has already been discontinued... so track one down while you can! 
Thank you so much Adam for that effort

In light of the exulted position currently retro-occupied by Big Star, it’s hard to imagine a time when any other group on the Ardent Records roster might have been considered the band most likely to. But when Feel Alright became a medium-sized radio hit across the U.S. in 1972, Cargoe certainly looked like the next-big-thing that producer Terry Manning and label boss John Fry desperately needed to boost Ardent’s ailing fortunes. Sadly, the same financial and distribution problems which thwarted Big Star’s initial shot at success also put paid to their Tulsa-formed label mates, but while the former have become oft-cited legends since their demise, Cargoe have slipped into an almost complete obscurity. Their self-titled debut album, still only available on CD as a horrendously expensive Japanese import, is a gorgeous slice of late ’60s/early ’70s country-tinged rock. Often lumped into Big Star’s early-powerpop basket, in reality Cargoe’s sound was much closer to the rock/soul of Delaney and Bonnie or the country strut of The Allman Brothers, replete with exquisite four-part harmonies and musicianship, in particular Tommy Richards’ magical lead guitar and Bill Phillips’ artful keyboards. All four members of the band contributed songs, ranging from the triumphant pop/rock of Feel Alright and Scenes, to the slow and wistful I Love You Anyway, or the funky bounce of Things We Dream Today and Time. To this day Terry Manning mentions this album as one of his favourite musical projects; we look forward to a time when people can hear this neglected Ardent gem without having their credit cards spontaneously combust. 

I'm not going to run through all the arguments, but you can make a solid case that Cargoe was the most important band on the Ardent label at the time.  The Tulsa transplants' lone album was Ardent's best seller, and their single was a serious contender.  This article does a superb job with the band's story, so I will gloss over most of it.

Cargoe did an admirable job blending power-pop melodicism with various contemporary sounds - late Beatles, post-CS&N and Traffic soft/folk rock, blues lead guitar and some country sounds.  Listening to Cargoe, it sounds like they just a bunch of Southern boys who loved the Beatles and others, and went in a different direction.  Southern rock were their brethren, (you can hear it on the vocals, the acoustic guitar bedrock and the blues-rock guitar leads), but instead of founding a new tribe, Cargoe became a curious attempt.  Had they become more popular, they might have been the American Badfinger, but even better.  You can sit down and figure out a Badfinger song relatively easily - Cargoe's songs are more complex and have excellent arrangements, probably the result of years of live playing and recording an earlier version of this album.

The mixture is pretty adventurous, and probably would have been the "smartest" mainstream album at the time, avoiding repeating their playing from verse to verse, such that songs go in unexpected places ("Feeling Mighty Poorly".  The album's single "Feel Alright" is a great example: it sounds like a late 60s country-rock band recording a power-pop single - good vocal harmonies, bluesy lead guitar, a great syncopated chorus.  The band had good verve - "Thousand Peoples Song" is built on a great riff, and introduces some saxophone, and "Come Down" has similar tendencies.  Their harmonies, quieter sections and acoustic reliance strongly echo CS&N ("Horses and Silver Things" "Heal Me", "Feeling Mighty Poorly"), but not in a purely derivative manner.  Their ballads are also a bit different: such as "I Love You Anyway", a harmony number with a gentle swinging 6/8 beat, but also synthesizer or mellotron in the background.

The public liked "Feel Alright" as well, the problem was Ardent's failed distribution stranded it.  A album with many ideas and good playing, Cargoe became orphaned; a signpost for sounds unrecorded. 

... read more  ==>  "The Story Of Cargoe"

side one:
A1. Come Down
A2. Feel Alright
A3. Horses And Silver Things
A4. Scenes
A5. Things We Dream Today
A6. Time
side two:
B1. Introduction (This Is Real) Feelin' Mighty Poorly
B2. Thousand Peoples Song
B3. Heal Me
B4. I Love You Anyway
B5. Leave Today

Cargoe (1972) - Feel Alright

BILL PHILLIPS - rhythm guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist/writer
MAX WISLEY - bassist/vocalist/writer
TIM BENTON - drummer/vocalist/writer
TOMMY RICHARD - lead guitarist/vocalist/writer

[Rip and Scans by gigic2255]

Link:   454 mb/file

plus CUE-repaired


  1. Amazing album,to me is an hidden treasure.Many thanks...

  2. I didn't knew this very good band. Thanks a lot for the discovery Gigic, i just bought the "Live In Memphis" cd.

  3. Thanks for this album, been searching for awhile for it. But am I missing something? When I try to split into tracks with Medieval Cue Splitter, I get an error. All the best...

  4. CUE sheet repaired, just only copy text from freetexthost and paste instead of DLded file with corrupted CUE one

  5. Any chance of a re-upload? Thanks.

  6. Hi gigic2255,
    the link is dead. Please could you re-up? Thanx in advance.

  7. Unfortunately the link has expired. A re-upload would be appreciated.


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