77S triplecorner90The 77s deliver up more than a simple trifecta of rock 'n roll – these five CDs are a musical archeological dig!
Echos O' Faith + Played Naked (2 disc set)
Cornerstone is Dead... Long Live Cornerstone (2 disc set)
Cornerstone Forever (3 song CD EP)
The 77s
Lo-Fidelity Records
Time: lots o' music

The cover of the 2-CD Echos O' Faith + Played Naked is a painting of dinosaurs. Now, I'm not about to imply anything here, but Mike Roe and friends seem to have excavated some interesting markers from the early stages of the evolution of a decidedly raucous strain of musical animal. Not that we're talking about an extinct species here – The 77s are still alive and well, as Johnny Winter might say. Of course, there are those that have drawn varying evolutionary conclusions based on discovering carnivorous, aggressive, electric artifacts as well as less aggressive, acoustic evidences – possibly indicating a vegetarian ancestor to the musical meat-eaters we've come to know and love.

Okay – enough of that.

The simultaneous release of three recordings by the 77s is a treasure-trove of goodies for fans of the legendary Californian rockers. Played Naked is an audio-document capturing the accidental origin of the '77s unplugged' concept and Echos O' Faith is the year-later follow-up concert – this time intentionally unplugged, with Steve Hindalong providing percussion. The whole story is wonderfully detailed in Roe's liner notes. Both shows are well-recorded, raw documents featuring a decidedly enthusiastic audience (at Ontario's Echoes of Faith Church – get it?) cheering on The 77s, equally adrenaline-fueled in their more stripped-down mode.

We all know by now that the Cornerstone Festival has reportedly had its last hurrah. The 77s were there right from the beginning in 1984, and Cornerstone is Dead... Long Live Cornerstone is a collection of recordings – mostly audience recordings – spanning some 24 years of live performances from the iconic venue. The sound quality ranges from barely listenable - if you're an audiophile - to pretty darn good. All things considered, it's a time-capsule project that gives the average listener who never got to attend Cornerstone a chance to get a tin-can telephone earful of what the fuss was all about. The 2002 through 2008 recordings feature The 77s at their rocking best – at full-strength, a frighteningly potent rock and roll outfit.

Cornerstone Forever is an audio thank-you card to the festival that made the 77s appearances over the years an always-anticipated highlight. The three song EP was recorded at Cornerstone's 25th Anniversary Main Stage celebration in 2008 and features Michael Roe, Mark Harmon, Bruce Spencer and David Leonhardt.

If you're a fan of The 77s or someone who's been to Cornerstone, these are must-have recordings. As you might expect, there's some amazing musicianship coming from the various incarnations of the band, and of course, Mike Roe's verbal between-song banter is priceless. If you're reading this, you already know the songs – this is about the character of the band in a live setting.

Echoes O Faith + Played Naked can be purchased alone, packaged with Cornerstone is Dead... Long Live Cornerstone, or both can be purchased along with the Cornerstone Forever EP. Got that? Didn't think so – you can get all of the details at http://the77s.bandcamp.com/album/echos-o-faith-played-naked
...you'll dig this musical archeology (don't blame me – I didn't paint the dinosaurs on the cover).

Bert Saraco


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