You have to admit, the power trio line-up got off to a good start with Cream. But following their first album, Cream relied on double tracking, additional instrumentation and studio effects. The music was at times, contoured and textured. This was largely due to producer Felix Pappalardi's efforts. So it was slightly ironic that Pappalardi joined a band that featured a stripped down power trio approach.
Technically, Mountain didn't start as a power trio. The group had east coast guitar maven Leslie West, Pappalardi on bass, drummer Corky Laing and Steve Knight on organ. West, who beat out Randy Bachman for the title of world's heaviest guitarist, played no-frills riff-Rock and he played it hard. Mountain's shining moment was the wailing "Mississippi Queen." Powered by a slashing riff and a thunderous, down in the gutter rhythm section, the song was a pure wall-of-sound Rocker. You can even hear Knight's organ part but only when West isn't playing (about a nanosecond at the end of the riff).
Though it only reached #21 on the Billboard Hot 100, "Mississippi Queen" became a Classic Rock standard. So much so, Ozzy Osbourne covered the song in '05 and had a hit.
Shortly after "Mississippi Queen" Knight departed, and since keyboards weren't a big part of Mountain's sound, he was not replaced. It was joked that after Knight left, it was three weeks before anyone noticed.
Aside from "Mississippi Queen" Mountain also did a solid version of Jack Bruce's "Theme From A Imaginary Western" which, despite the title, was a good song. After Mountain bit the dust, Bruce provided his name and reputation to West, Bruce & Laing (guitarists always get top billing). After playing with Clapton and Baker in Cream, Bruce must have found it "interesting" to be thumping away with West and Laing.
Mountain didn't have a lot of great songs but they did have some hot moments. A riff here or a solo there.
Long after Mountain was history, Pappalardi got into an argument with his wife, allegedly over fidelity issues. She fatally shot him. West, on the other hand, went on to make several guest appearances on the Howard Stern Radio show.
Years later, West's his lower right leg was amputated as a result of complications from diabetes. Sitting in a wheelchair, he performed his first show since the operation at New York's BB King Blues Club. West received a standing ovation at the conclusion of his '12 show.
1970 Climbing! US #17
1971 Nantucket Sleighride US #16
1971 Flowers Of Evil
1985 Go For Your Life
1996 Man's World
2002 Mystic Fire
2007 Masters Of War
1972 Mountain Live: The Road Goes Ever On
1974 Twin Peaks
The Compilation Album:
1973 The Best Of Mountain
Mountain's first album "Mountain Climbing" is worth going after. It has "Mississippi Queen" and a cover of Jack Bruce's "Theme From an Imaginary Western." Other Mountain offerings are OK. There are a couple anthologies. "Best of Mountain" is just that. Digging deeper, there's the two CD set "Over The Top."
West, Bruce & Laing's "Why Dontcha" is as good as Mountain's best.