Title: Are You Ready?

Artist: Pacific Gas & Electric

Album: Are You Ready?

Year Released: 1970

What It Is: A tremendous, yet fluky, hit combining soul, rock, funk and gospel (on the studio version, the Blackberries (Vanetta Fields, Clydie King, Merry Clayton, etc.) added backing vocals). It deserved to be a much bigger hit than #14 (and it only hit #49 on the Soul Chart, prompting me to go WTF?)

Riffage / Hookage:The chrous is a great hook, and Glen Schwartz  plays a mean guitar.

Cowbell?: Not here, but decent drumming.

Words Of Wisdom: “There’s rumors of war
Men dying and women crying
If you breathe air, you’ll die
Perhaps you wonder the reason why
But wait! Don’t you worry
A new day is dawning
We’ll catch the sun, and away we’ll fly…”

A little optimism was needed in 1970.

Mixology Report: Only those who abhor gospel would probably pooh-pooh this one, but it’s their loss!

For The Good Of The Order:Pacific Gas & Electric needed a “Behind The Music” episode. This was their third record, and they seemed to be gathering momentum. They had chops (Schwartz was in the James Gang before Joe Walsh and by all contemporary accounts Schwartz was perceived to be a huge loss for them at the time) and cred (they played at almost every festival BUT Woodstock) and then this huge hit. But it soon unraveled…
Schwartz had a freak-out on stage and announced he was converting to Christianity mid-concert. He left the group (first he joined the All Saved Freak Band, part of a cult The Church Of The Risen Christ, and then went back home to Ohio where for years he played with his brothers at a little club in Cleveland). Frank Cook, the drummer (ex-Canned Heat) and band manager, had a serious car wreck and couldn’t play anymore. Marshall soon left after that, with Brent Block moving to guitar. Finally, Block threw in the towel and so PG & E’s singer, Charlie Allen, had to recruit an entirely new band to tour behind this record. Then, the utility Pacific Gas & Electric ‘requested’ that they change their name. Is it any wonder that they totally lost momentum?

Here’s a video clip of the ‘new’ Pacific Gas & Electric. The guitarist is Ken Utterback, I believe, and he does a darn fine job. But not as good as Schwartz, sadly. Ron Woods is the new drummer and he’s pretty good too, and the happy bassist is Frank Petricca. Thank you Wikipedia!