Like Locomotive’s sole-debut album We Are Everything You See released in 1970 which has a prog-orchestral psychedelic jazz feel to it thanks to the mind of Norman Haines, The Dog That Bit People was a band that moved away from Norman’s vision into something that was in the deep realm of the American West Coast Sound of the late ‘60s. And their only debut album originally released in 1971 on the Parlaphone label, is a wonderful treatment with Country Rock, Folk, Hard Rock, and the early beginnings of Southern Rock.
Like a burning candle that burns bright, The Dog That Bit People had all of the ingredients to write their own compositions and created some beautiful songs to fill their wings. The band really carries the sound of CSNY and Stephen Stills like as if they went to the studio carrying their albums and before getting ready to record, they would listen to them and see where the writing and music come in. There’s a perfect example of this on Sound of Hunter and the result here is fantastic. You have an acoustic rhythm guitar section while the background vocals have an earlier resemblance of The Marshall Tucker Band as guitarist Paul Caswell gives his heavy southern riff that is more expected from Gary Rossington and Toy Caldwell. But the four-piece could take a huge beauty and make it more like a flower growing to see the sunlight.
But what Esoteric Recordings did was absolutely fascinating. The booklet features pictures of the band, sleeve notes by Crimson and Canterbury expert Sid Smith, and an interview with drummer Bob Lamb about the making of the debut album. The band considers Locomotive bassist Mick Hincks, guitarist John Caswell, and keyboardist Keith Millar. Their own love of Country Music, Scott Joplin, and George Jones comes with a sense of humor on the short track of the Memphis sound with Someone Somewhere, yes it’s a funny track as they have a ball to get you in a dancing mood while they go into the realm of Black Sabbath’s first album treatment on The Monkey and the Sailor and the closer, Reptile Man. It comes with a psychedelic mellower romantic sound on the opening number that could have been an A.M. hit in the ‘70s with Goodbye Country and the issues of meeting a beautiful woman with a Buffalo Springfield feel to it on Lovely Lady.
But you might see that the Dog that Bit People had some progressive moments in them to let Norman Haines know they have it in them with the fantasy-mellotron soaring angelic rocker on Cover Me in Roses. It has Keith Millar’s power house organ sound as he goes at it like if he is in full control while Bob Lamb’s lays in the groove on the drums. He isn’t like Charlie Watts, but he calms the band down with his patterns and his ear trains to give the band time to lay back. On piano grooves with a bluesy feel and a Shofar introduction to a psychedelic pounding rocker that pays homage to Traffic featuring Steve Winwood, A Snapshot of Rex is almost a sequel to Forty Thousand Headmen and Red Queen’s Dance is the ultimate medieval keg rocker of Medicated Goo and the bass line similar to Pink Floyd’s Careful With that Eugene in the beginning, it’s a killing track that really gets your blood boiling.
Mr. Sunshine stands on the toes with David Bowie’s psych-pop flavor of Janine while Tin Soldier is a wonderful composition with Hinck’s vocals, John Caswell folk and heavy guitar sounds fill the album while Millar does a Thunderclap Newman sound on the piano as drummer Bob Lamb goes at the drums like a shining diamond as he takes the band to the soaring skies. Walking is another ballad that makes it perfect to walk in Central Park to exercise with by adding the calm and feel that makes the album closes with a perfect note. The bonus track which was a B-side single that according to the liner notes has a Badfinger flavor which is spot on with Merry-Go-Round just makes you want to put this on the graduation dance to get you going for more of the band’s lost classic. Not only that Esoteric pulled a great job to bring the album out of the tunnels, but the reissue and re-mastering that they did is like as if they brought it back from the dead and getting the recognition it deserves.