North Carolina’s Space Apaches seem to be having a good time on their album titled Smokin’ Voyages, but it’s unclear whether it’s a party worth sticking around for. Cheers to this quintet for putting out a 14-song LP in this age of singles and EPs, though it could be argued that a collection of five or six tunes would have sufficed.
The single, “Smile,” is pretty indicative of what these cats are up to, which is a psychedelic rock revival of sorts. All the proper elements are there: blues-inspired guitar, electric piano/organ, and plenty of way-out jamming. It’s long on musical skill but a bit lacking in tuneage.
However, just when you think you have Space Apache figured out, they offer a cover of “Just Dropped In,” but in a much more Motown-influenced style. The song was penned by Nashville Songwriting Hall of Fame member Mickey Newbury and made famous by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition who got it into the top 10 in 1968, the heyday of psychedelic rock. Space Apaches frontman and lead singer Andrew Reed doesn’t sound like an R&B vocalist, but the backup singers do. Thankfully they don’t try to mix psychedelia with Motown, but they do rock it up a bit.
Similarly, “Empty” is more of a country-fried number, with a rocky punch. But like the other tracks though, it doesn’t stick. Indeed, most of the songs are indistinguishable. It all sounds wonderful, and would be great to have playing at a party or in a bar as background music, but you’ll likely not be humming any of these tunes later on and that includes the other two covers.
Larry Norman’s “I Am The Six O’Clock News,” gets a fine reading, but it’s an odd choice for a cover. “Ghost Riders in the Sky” makes much more sense and provides a fitting close to the album, adeptly reflecting the mix of the albums varied styles.
7 Stars Out of 10
PF Wilson has been writing about music, TV, radio, and movies for over 20 years. He has also written about sports, business, and politics with his work appearing in Cincinnati CityBeat, The Houston Press, Cleveland Scene, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine, Atomic Ranch, and many more. Check out his podcast PF’s Tape Recorder available from Podbean or in iTunes.