Waterhouse 1981 / Angel Air 2019
From the Big Sky State into eternity: debut offering from country-rock’s contenders who didn’t have the time to hit it.
A new incarnation of MISSION MOUNTAIN WOOD BAND who toured tirelessly across the U.S. for a decade, putting about two million miles on their legendary Greyhound, MONTANA could have been as impressive as Granite Peak is if the climate they existed was right – and if the band didn’t perish in a plane crash in 1987, six years down the line from their start. Falling somewhere between DR. HOOK’s rustic soulfulness and the streamlined vistas of EAGLES, they released three albums, with “Change In The Weather” a harbinger of that climatic permutation and a valiant attempt to meld country-and-western and pop.
There’s misplaced, if infectious, romanticism in “The Shoes On The Other Foot Tonight” that pedal steel drives beyond sweet vocals to reach for misty-eyed Appalachia – or whatever music term can describe the sounds from the Treasure State’s ridges and pastures – while the hoedown behind “In Without Knocking” feels superficial because its bluegrass is too light, unlike in “Railroad Pickin’ Blues” where all the homespun elements are perfectly balanced to satisfy both the ’80s demands and the genre’s boundaries. Kurt Bergeron’s vocals may show great emotional depth on the sax-spiced “Sure Fooled Me” and the lucid ballad “She’s Never Gone” but his own “If I Ever Fall In Love” would fare much better.
Still, even heavenly harmonies and a piano line can’t properly anchor the equally commercial “Snowfall On The Mountain” or the title track to prevent them from dating, and the ensemble’s endeavor to embrace the era’s disco values on “Dreamer” fails quite spectacularly, despite the presence of flute and a crunchy guitar solo. It’ll take “Feminine Fever” to let the group tap into rockabilly and doo-wop and have a field day in style, and had there been more rootsy material, this record would be more memorable and guitarist Rob Quist wouldn’t have to stand as a candidate for Congress in 2017.