The reissue of Mountain's first two albums probably won't cause much of a blip on the musical radar screen. Climbing (1970) and "Nantucket Sleighride" (1971) were originally released to critical acclaim, but little else. The band, which took its name from the physical size of guitar virtuoso Leslie West, was better known for live performances, even taking the stage at Woodstock barely two months after it was established. Mountain blasted out of the psychedelic '60s behind a massive wall of sound. Drummer Corky Laing drives these tunes, but they are all built around West's guitar. The band displays a literate side with songs that offer stories and avoid the surreal, drug-obsessed lyrics typical of the era. The title track, "Nantucket Sleighride," a whaler's ode to his girlfriend as he sets out to sea, and "Theme for an Imaginary Western" are instead rooted in a historical, American romanticism. Even "Mississippi Queen," their signature tune, conjures images of bawdy times and paddlewheel steamers. These discs are worth a nostalgic spin, but unless you're a Mountain fan, save up for the soon-to-be-reissued "Best of Mountain," which includes the gems from these two albums in addition to a blistering version of "Roll Over Beethoven."
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