Bob Fiorino - vocals; Anthony Gigliotti - vocals; Bob Miller - lead guitar; Joe Ahladis - rhythm guitar; Greg Yochman - bass; Dave Mazzochi - keyboards, vocals; Roger Force - saxophone, flute; Bob Pinti - trumpet, vocals; Fred Marzulla - trombone; Pat Aulizia - drums
Hailing from Warren, Ohio, Mom's Apple Pie was a young 10-piece band that formed in 1970. Sporting two lead vocalists and a horn section, the group, several of them still teenagers, were heavily influenced by the sound of the first Chicago Transit Authority album and the approach of bands like Three Dog Night. Shortly after forming, the group's manager booked a demo session in Cleveland with recording engineer, Kenneth Hamman, the man behind the mega-successful Grand Funk Railroad albums. On the strength of these demos alone, the band was signed by Terry Knight, Grand Funk's manager, who assigned Hamman the task of producing their first album. The self-titled debut was released the following year, with a second album following in 1973. The band toured extensively, performing at college campuses, clubs, concert halls, and even Madison Square Garden, opening for the likes of Grand Funk and up-and-comers like the Doobie Brothers and David Bowie. Both of the band's albums have since become sought-after collector's items, due in no small part to the risqué cover art on the band's self-titled debut, which was almost immediately banned and replaced with an alternate cover. At first glance, the cover seemed to be an American Gothic style painting of a Mom holding out a freshly baked pie. Upon closer inspection, the pie itself contained an unmistakably detailed vagina, which immediately sent censors into a tizzy.
This live recording of Mom's Apple Pie captures the band near their peak, prior to the release of their second album. Opening a triple bill at the State University of New York in Binghamton that also featured the Kinks and Lindisfarne, this set relies heavily on the material from their debut album, but also features two of the tracks destined for their sophomore effort.
The recording begins with three tracks from the debut. First up is the keyboard-dominated rocker, "Lay Your Money Down," featuring the dual lead vocals of Bob Fiorino and Anthony Gigliotti. This is followed by the somewhat preachy "People" that could be considered an early example of "Christian Rock" and the more genuinely soulful "Happy Just To Be." These contain some respectable musicianship, particularly from guitarist Bob Miller, but the group is so obviously striving for the sound of early Chicago that it inevitably falls a bit short. Although the band could come close to the sound they were striving for, their songwriting and arranging skills simply were not in that league. Still there are enough inspired moments that fans will be delighted and those enamored with early Chicago may also be intrigued.
Of big interest to fans are the next two songs, both of which would surface on the extremely difficult to find second album, "Mom's Apple Pie 2." Both "Can You Help Me" and "Every Mother's Son" (not to be confused with the Traffic song of the same name) display definite songwriting progress. The latter, in particular, is quite engaging and features a nice instrumental break. The set concludes with two of the more accessible numbers from the debut album, with the searching "Secret Of Life" and the celebratory "Dawn Of A New Day" to conclude the set.