The Complete A&M Album Collection (Manifesto)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Dec. 18, 2015
If ever there was a box worthy of being scented with patchouli and marijuana smoke, this is it. Lee Michaels remains best known as a one-hit wonder for "Do You Know What I Mean?," but the 7-CD Complete A&M Album Collection, spanning 1968-1973, reveals the keyboardist/songwriter's range as he ventured from psychedelic pop reminiscent of the Rascals, Traffic, and even Blood, Sweat & Tears to lengthy jams as a pioneer in the duo format – just Hammond organ and drums. Longtime Austinite and world-class drummer Barry "Frosty" Smith shows up on two of Michaels' middle-period discs, offering a great counterpoint to the singer's blues excursions. Originally a two-LP set, Live features future Doobie Brothers drummer Keith Knudsen, who manages to splash and stomp his way through blues standards of the day like "Stormy Monday" and "Rock Me Baby." While the music sounds revitalized, the packaging feels lightweight, with the 40-page book explaining the now retired Michaels' musical journey adequately but less than comprehensive. A new 20-track distillation offers a more manageable taste, perhaps.