Genre: Progressive rock, funk, rock, jazz fusion, pop, groove, psychedelic
Musicians: Skip Prokop / vocals, drums, leader, Paul Hoffert / keyboards, vibes
Ralph Cole / guitar, vocals, Grant Fullerton / bass, vocals, Pinky Dauvin / percussion, vocals, Ian Guenther / violin, Don Dinovo / violin, viola, Don Whitton / cello, Leslie Schneider / cello, Freddy Stone / trumpet, flugelhorn, Howard Shore / alto saxophone
Russ Little / trombone, Arnie Chycoski / trumpet, flugelhorn (uncredited)
Producer:Skip Prokop, Paul Hoffert
Arranger: Paul Hoffert, Freddy Stone
Lighthouse was formed in 1968 in Toronto by vocalist/drummer Skip Prokop (formerly of the Paupers) and keyboardist Paul Hoffert. The two met by coincidence on a flight from New York City to Toronto, and discussed forming a band structured around a rock rhythm section, jazz horn section, and classical string section. Prokop had admired Ralph Cole’s playing when they shared the bill at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit, so he brought him to Toronto to be the band’s guitarist. Prokop and Hoffert assembled the rest of the group from friends, studio session musicians, and Toronto Symphony Orchestra members, and proceeded to make a demo recording. On the advice of Richie Havens, Prokop and Hoffert took the demo to MGM Records in New York, who signed the band. Two days later they had a manager, Vinnie Fusco, out of Albert Grossman’s office, who overturned the MGM contract and made a deal with RCA Victor. Lighthouse made its debut on May 14, 1969, at the Rock Pile in Toronto.
Their first album, Lighthouse (this one), was released in 1969 by RCA from RCA’s Toronto Eastern Sound Studio
After Lighthouse disbanded in the ’70s, many of the players continued with their musical careers while some went in different directions.
Paul Hoffert has continued his career as a film composer; headed up the Ontario Arts Council from 1994 to 1997; created and was the Director of CulTech from 1992 to 2000, a Research Centre at York University, and has written five books exploring the intersection of culture and technology. In 2004 he received the Order of Canada. Prokop and Cole formed other bands with some success before hitting their stride in the advertising world and as record producers. Saxophonist Howard Shore became the music director for Saturday Night Live and began a career in film composition, emerging as one of Hollywood’s most sought after composers. Shore won three Academy Awards for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Don DiNovo bought a church in Arthur, Ontario, and turned it into a recording studio. Dick Armin continued his work as a creator of electronic string instruments.
Russ Little has continued as a musician and composer. John Naslen became a recording engineer (he engineered the 1994 Lighthouse “Song of the Ages” release). Grant Fullerton continues to perform with his own band. Louie Yacknin opted out of music altogether and bought a tire installation company. Larry Smith moved to Israel and created a software company for language translation. Bob McBride became a top studio session singer and was heard on numerous commercials but he suffered from drug abuse and serious illness, and died February 20, 1998, of heart failure in Toronto. Arnie Chycoski, Don DiNovo, Keith Jollimore, Alan Wilmot, Dale Hillary, Freddie Stone are all deceased.
Official Website: http://www.lighthouserockson.com/
At first start of this LP it tricked me with noise that I thought should not be there, but learned that it was strange distorted guitar and is supposed to be there. The LP mix is ok, but could be better. It seemed to have been recorded slightly hot. Despite those items, this LP is quite a ride with all the different styles of music presented throughout.
Lighthouse had a big sound for its time, it seemed to be all things to everyone: Progressive rock, serious arrangements/fun grooves,funk, rock, jazz fusion, pop, groove, psychedelic, etc. It was truly a Canadian institution, but this raw almost unknown record is where it all started. The reason I include them in the Progressive rock genre is because while the songs are not of typical length associated with Prog rock, the time changes and incorporation of different styles of music are part and parcel to Progressive rock in my opinion.
You may want to note however that this old RCA release does suffer from somewhat muddy production values at times.
This first Lighthouse record has been largely ignored, even by fans, but I would suggest that they pull it out and give it a spin for old times sake. I bet you will be surprised.
Mountain Man– This tune is kind of a funk flavored number, which is not expected to judge by the name. Also what normally happens later into LPs in the middle of this song we have the ever important drum solo. What a way to start an LP!
If There Ever Was A Time – This is a jazz fusion tune, sort of avant-garde. This is the introduction of the horns.
No Opportunity Necessary – This up tempo rock song has a cuban or salsa flavor in the background. It also has a really positive message about, well,…being positive and taking the time or courage to step out once in a while to be with friends or indeed make friends, etc.
Never Say Goodbye – This song starts with just Cello and vocals as the band joins in about a minute later and goes into a more sixties pop style. I do find the bridge with the horns somewhat disheveled sounding though.
Follow The Stars – This tune is sort of a 60’s psychedelic style, almost a Moody Blues flavor.
Whatever Forever – Side two starts of with this classic sounding sixties groove feel of a song, including the lyrics. This is one of my favorites on the LP. There are also two parts where it changes into a Latin feel with the drums beating out a latin rhythm. The bridge is also different giving what sounds more like a 60’s jazz jam feel with the organ being featured.
Eight Miles High – Yes, what we have here, is a cover of The Byrds song. You might think that The Byrds’ Eight Miles High would be inappropriate for such a large-scale group. However, Lighthouse tears it up in this bold, punchy rendition. They pulled out all the stops including horns and piano. It is really different sounding without being off the rails at all. I’d say it’s kind of like The 5th Dimension rocked up. It is quite a good version and really the surprise of the LP! A very nice treat in my opinion. Take a listen below this review.
Marsha, Marsha – This tune sounds like a cross between Chicago and The Moody Blues and is obviously a love song.
Ah I Can Feel It – To me this song is kind of Dave Brubeck meets Crosby Stills & Nash or The Buffalo Springfield. The xylophone is featured.
Life Can Be So Simple – This closing track starts out as classical with horns and rock percussion entering shortly after. Then it goes into a classic sixties pop vocal group sound with the bridge being more sixties rock. Really positive lyrics in this one as well.