By Peter Lindblad
3 ½ stars
Another archaeological dig that's unearthed a lost rock 'n' roll gem, "Uncorked: Rare Tracks From a Vintage '70s Band" honors the heretofore unheralded work of Kelakos, whose drummer, Carl Canedy, went on to play for '80s classic metal ruffians The Rods and ably produce albums by Anthrax, Overkill, Exciter and Possessed, among others.
Based in Ithaca, New York, Kelakos was formed in the mid-1970s and built a local following in and around the New York City and New Jersey club scene, going so far as to release its first single in 1976 and the "Gone Are The Days" album two years later before fading into obscurity.
Characteristic of classic-rock from that era, although the songwriting is surprisingly diverse if not always distinctive or unique, the 15 remixed tracks of "Uncorked: Rare Tracks From a Vintage 70s Band" find the exceedingly likable Kelakos trying to strike a balance between the raucous fun and organic groove of a Grand Funk Railroad or Foghat and the more progressive fusions of Santana or the Mahavishnu Orchestra.
Displaying a fondness for earthy funk romps ("Boogie Bad Express" and "Funky Day"), Kelakos also made breezy, soft-rock balladry ("Rachel" and "How Did You Get So Crazy") that Dr. Hook or Seals & Croft would die for and sunny, dewy jams ("Gone Are The Days") that roll down dirt roads only the Allman Brothers know about. At the same time, "Frostbite Fantasy" and "Lovin' So Fine" are harder to pigeonhole, the latter more of a jazzy, R&B cocktail in the vein of Steely Dan and the former a rather fanciful, almost dreamy, spin on a straightforward rock song, something Kelakos often excelled at. And the previously unreleased "In the Sun" is ironclad proof.