After a break from the archive due to extensive touring and all kinds of musical endeavours that I hope to share with you soon and after the last show in Boston over the weekend, I suddenly find myself relaxing on Nantucket Island in the Atlantic ocean, 30 miles from the American mainland.
I always wanted to come here because I loved the album Nantucket Sleighride by Mountain, well half of it at least. Although guitarist co-vocalist Leslie West was the focal point of the band his gruff vocals, heavy-handed guitar and scary physicality didn’t attract me to the record. It was bassist, co-vocalist and producer Felix Pappalardi’s voice and songs that I grew to love, although West’s long sustained notes were unique and then there’s Gail Collins’ album artwork.
West’s Don’t Look Around, You Can’t Get Away, The Animal Trainer And The Toad and The Great Train Robbery were heavy, loud, riffing, chunky Rock, I think they call it Proto-Metal these days but Pappalardi’s Travellin’ In The Dark, Tired Angels, My Lady and the title track were melodic, soft and sensitive albeit in a Rock setting. The album also had one short Pappalardi instrumental track, Taunta. An instrumental section of the title track was used as the theme music for British current affairs program Weekend World.
Today strangely, driving with my friend that invited me here, Nanci, momentarily distracted from our conversation said “That’s Nick, I just saw him pull into his drive, let’s go back”. Suddenly I was hanging with Nick Ferrantella, Mountain’s road manager during those glory years. What a lovely man, enthusiastic conversation ensued, he showed us the studio in the bottom of his house, his Nantucket Sleighride 8 Track tape and his copy of West’s 1975 solo album The Great Fatsby, on which, along with Corky Laing, he played drums.
Nick went on to tour manage West, Bruce & Laing before leaving to work with Foreigner. It was a totally unexpected and a memorable 30 Nantucket minutes. By the way, Mississippi Queen, Mountain’s biggest song on the debut album, Climbing from 1970 was conceived here.
Felix Pappalardi was tragically shot and killed by his wife Gail Collins in their New York City apartment in 1983 – she was jailed for criminally negligent homicide. She died suffering from cancer in Mexico in 2013. Organist Steve Knight died in 2013 from Parkinson’s disease.
Gail Collins also co-wrote Cream’s Strange Brew and World Of Pain as well as being the artist for Mountain’s classic album covers throughout the seventies.
If you are wondering what Nantucket Sleighride actually means, go here: