View Full Version : Sea Level...the band

09-02-2008, 01:26 AM
I am a huge classic rock fan, and Allman Brothers fan. I love that free style they have, and their sound...the blues, a bit of jazz, straight up rock and roll, which I was raised on.... and the jam factor.....I came across a band formed after they broke up in the mid 70s, by Chuck Leavell, who I think is one of the best keyboardists in the industry....Sea Level is what they called themselves. I'm hoping to check them out, their style seems to be right up my alley....I was curious if any fellow posters had any opinions or insight on them...it looks like they weren't hugely successful, but it doesn't mean they weren't good

09-02-2008, 09:55 PM
I remember coming across Sea Level a while back during my on-going quest to make sure I'm missing out on no awesome pre-me-being-born classic rock. I can't say it made a great impression on me, but then again if I had to point out one apparent difference in our two tastes, it'd be that I put qualify overt "jamminess" as a negative trait, not a positive one.

But if you know what you're getting into (and it sounds like you do), then I can't imagine you being too disappointed if you give them a closer listen.

Another suggestion, if you're looking for semi-obscure mid-70s "remnant" bands: West, Bruce, and Lang. [Lange? I don't remember for sure.] Three guys, all left over from either Cream or Mountain, who bring all the hard-bluesey aspects I love about that era, and keep the jamminess at exactly the right level (phenomonal solos and breakdowns, but they remember that there's rarely a good reason for a studio track to last longer than 5 mintues, too).

I think they might have done two albums, tops, before breaking up themselves. Doesn't matter, because the one you want to look for is "Why Don'tchya?" and has a track called "The Doctor" as #3 on side one. That song is the only time in my long tenure of playing in various bands where I vetoed doing a cover out of pure, unabashed inadequacy as a bassist. And trust me, I'm not shy about proclaiming my great skillz or about reworking a song to be be shorter or simplified, but in this case, if we took out the parts I couldn't play and just focused on the main riff/verse/chorus progression, we'd have had us about 2 minutes worth of song, which just wouldn't have been right.



EDITED TO ADD: It's spelled Laing, apparently. And also: sometimes I forget how good a friend YouTube can be when it comes to pilfering the intellectual property of others. I found "The Doctor" on there, should anyone want to listen to one of the most kick-rump hidden gems of the 70s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZL32LAtVVA. I think you'll find the bassing makes you feel as stupid as it makes me feel.

09-02-2008, 10:37 PM
What I've heard of Sea Level they were ok. Nothing extremely special, but competent. But if you're a big fan of the Allman's you'd probably like it.

09-03-2008, 02:04 AM
I remember Sea Level. Had one or two of their albums (back when they were pizza size). Seems to me that I saw them somewhere in the Cincinnati area but most of the details escape me. WEBN used to play them. I liked 'em.


Roy Tucker
09-03-2008, 09:56 AM
Yeah, I think I've got a couple Sea Level LPs back in the basement vinyl museum somewhere. The only thing I really remember about them is Chuck Leavell's piano.

IIRC, they couldn't make up their minds if they wanted to be a rock-jazz fusion band or a southern boogie band. I get them mixed up with the Dixie Dregs. I was surprised to see Leavell has been with the Rolling Stones for 25 years now. But then, I also haven't seen the Stones live since forever.

I saw West, Bruce, and Laing open for ELP way back in '72 at the Convo at Ohio Univ. We had 2nd row seats. Jack Bruce wore knee-high boots (di rigeur for the day) and Leslie West was pissed about the sound and kept yelling at the roadies. Corky Laing launched about 80 bazillion drum sticks into the crowd.

09-03-2008, 10:33 AM
IIRC, they couldn't make up their minds if they wanted to be a rock-jazz fusion band or a southern boogie band. I get them mixed up with the Dixie Dregs.

Now the Dregs... that's a good band. Steve Morse is a player.

Sea Level?

I was "kinda" there and they flew under my radar, thus I'm apt to say they aren't Big Star or even The Pretty Things, bands mostly forgotten but who layed some groundwork towards a musical movement.

09-03-2008, 11:01 AM
Thanks for the input, guys.

I actually recognize one of their album covers...either my Dad has it, or my Step-Dad has it on vinyl. I may have heard some of their stuff when I was a kid and didn't know it.

I'll give them a listen!

Dom Heffner
09-03-2008, 11:53 AM
I had an older cousin- sort of an idol of mine growing up- who was such a music snob that he could not listen to this band.

He really felt he was above Sea Level.

09-03-2008, 01:09 PM
He really felt he was above Sea Level.



09-03-2008, 04:41 PM

Fusion combo Sea Level was formed in 1976 by keyboardist Chuck Leavell, bassist Lamar Williams, and drummer Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson following their exit from the Allman Brothers Band; guitarist Jimmy Nalls completed the original lineup, which in 1977 issued its self-titled debut LP on the Capricorn label. Honing its distinctive marriage of rock, blues, and jazz through relentless touring, the group returned to the studio to cut 1978's Cats on the Coast, followed later that year by On the Edge; although Jaimoe returned to the Allmans, Sea Level recorded two more albums -- 1979's Long Walk on a Short Pier and 1980's Ball Room -- before dissolving. Leavell later emerged as a sought-after session player and producer, also touring with the Rolling Stones; in 1998, he issued his debut solo LP, What's in That Bag? Sadly, Williams died of Agent Orange-related cancer on January 25, 1983.