Quality: 3.75 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 3.75 out of 5
Ah, Condello (be you the vocalist/guitarist Mike Condello or the Arizona band in general). Why start your album with an out-of-tune clunker of a track when there are plenty of fine sounds to hear? Oh, well. There's a healthy dose of contemporaneous San Francisco rock lurking about here, especially with Grateful Dead-like harmonies (or go with the Band if you can't deal with Deadheads). These psychedelic popsters were definitely cranking the White Album repeatedly as well, as a few of the better tracks come across like something George Harrison would have plopped down on tape during that period. As my opening comment implies, the album sequencing here is a mess, but a bit of trawling will bring out a few gems.
Condello isn't a particularly groundbreaking band, but they manage some pretty groovy facsimilies and change up their influences just enough to keep it from being a rip off. Still, I think I've got their number for what they were reaching for. Of the better tracks, "Oh, No" and "Dr. Tarr Professor Feather" tend to resemble the aforementioned Harrison tracks, complete with warbling guitars and vocals phased into eternity. "Charming Sitter" and "See What Tomorrow Brings" straddles the fence between the psychedelic Byrds and the country-rock Byrds nicely. "Keep It Inside" and "He'll Keep Waiting" feature Workingman's Dead sort of harmonies, although this is two years before that Dead album, so score one for Condello. "It Don't Matter" makes me think of something the Small Faces would have done for Ogden's Nut Gone Flake, while "Guess I Better Go" could have passed off pretty easily as something Curt Boettcher would have produced.
I feel like I'm being a little lazy when my reviews include this many direct comparisons to other artsts, but Phase One is truthfully a somewhat derivative affair. Fortunately, the band made up for a lack of originality with a few really great songs. You may not need this entire album, but you will likely find three or four songs that you can't live without.