CD Review: Granicus “Thieves, Liars and Traitors”

Psychedelic hard rock band Granicus existed alongside bands like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. The Cleveland-formed band left the area to seek their musical fortunes out in New York. RCA signed the band and released their self-titled debut release. However, it would be their only major label release, as bad management and a bad record deal left Granicus’ potential as a band unfulfilled. By the mid-seventies, Granicus had ceased to be.
Jumping ahead three and a half decades to 2010, unfinished demos were uncovered as band members were cleaning and the idea to release the ‘album that never was’ was born. Eight studio tunes were completed when Woody Leffel added his lyrics and vocals to songs that would have become Granicus’ second album if everything had gone the way they should have. Leffel’s recently-recorded vocal tracks were added to vintage music tracks created by lead guitarist Wayne Anderson, rhythm guitarist Al Pinell, bassist Dale Bedford and drummer Joe Battaglia. Recently assembled for the first time, these tracks were engineered by Dale Bedford and Battaglia and produced by former road manager Gregg Ream at Bedford’s Bonzolivic Studios, creating the studio songs for the 2010 Granicus album, Thieves, Liars and Traitors.
The first thing that the listener will notice when listening to Thieves, Liars and Traitors from Granicus is the production quality: It sounds like it came from the seventies. It sounds like you’ve just put on a new vinyl record and are about to let the music surround you in all its warmth. The studio part of the album begins with “Thieves, Liars and Traitors,” the title track. This is a track that brings back the feeling of music of Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd.
Space In Time,” the album’s second track, is probably one of the best tracks on the release. The subject matter, as well as the production quality on the track both combines to create a very psychedelic vibe.
One of the tracks that must be experienced in an intimate setting is the song “I’m Not Sick“. Find a pair of headphones, put them on, and let the music take you away. The four-minute song is just a reminder of what real rock and roll sounded like.
When listening to the first eighty seconds of “Slings and Arrows,” the last studio track on the release, you get the feeling that you are about to get the chance to hear the band create a fine piece of instrumental rock: The instrumentation of Anderson, Battaglia, Bedford and Pinell blend to make a beautiful classic rock song. When Leffel’s vocals do appear eighty seconds in, the music and vocals create a track that becomes both beautiful and strong.
Thieves, Liars and Traitors can actually be described as “two albums in one,” as the first half of the release features studio tracks and the second half features one half hour “snapshot” of Granicus in concert. The ninth and final track of the release features twenty-seven minutes of Granicus live-in-concert. While no information is given as to date or location for the concert, the concert minutes (like the studio tracks) are vintage, having been recorded sometime during the original existence of the group. Thieves, Liars and Traitors’ live section includes “When You’re Movin’” and “Bad Talk,” two songs that were originally released on the Granicus self-titled album. Granicus fans, old and new alike, get the chance to hear these classic tracks in a live setting with this brief glimpse into the live side of the band. And in keeping with the rest of the release, Granicus even breaks out “Back Seat of My Car,” a song that was not part of their original album.
“What was to be is not to be,” sings Woody Leffel in the Granicus song “Slings and Arrows” in an almost clairvoyant moment, as if he knew things would not work out the way RCA promised when they signed Granicus to a contract. And while Granicus may not have achieved the stardom they were all but promised, their self-titled album and Thieves, Liars and Traitors both prove that not every talented artist will become a household name. However, sometimes you get a second chance to make it, even if it’s not how you first imagined it. With Thieves, Liars and Traitors, the world gets that chance to hear a band named Granicus shine.