Frank Marino grew up in Montreal surrounded by music and formed what would become Mahogany Rush with Paul Harwood on bass and drummer Jim Ayoub in 1970. Heavily influenced by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Marino’s early guitar-work was frantic but engaging, and showed a lot of promise.
The band recorded MAXOOM in Quebec City’s Little Coyote Studios in early ’72. Their simple, three piece sound was seldom burdened with over-dubs and was demonstrated in “Buddy”, the band’s first single. Although it didn’t catch on in Canada, the record quickly caught the attention of the FM market in the north-eastern States.
CHILD OF THE NOVELTY was put out in early ’74 and picked up where their debut left off, an all out assault on the ears. Buried beneath the blazing riffs Marino had already made a name for himself with was the only single “A New Rock and Roll”. Though it too failed to make a dent in the Canadian market, the airlplay given it in the U.S. landed Mahogany Rush dates opening for the likes of The Amboy Dukes, The Chambers Brothers and Graham Central Station.
STRANGE UNIVERSE was released less than a year later and contained the single “Satisfy Your Soul”. Though Marino’s guitar work was as detailed yet as hectic as in the previous records, STRANGE UNIVERSE failed to build what one would have thought was a natural progression. Their fourth album entitled MAHOGANY RUSH IV hit the shelves in ’76. More guitar-frenzy was almost sophisticated now, as evidenced by the epic “Electric Reflections of War”.
’77 saw Marino and his band put out WORLD ANTHEM, widely regarded as one of his best records. The title track and “Requiem For A Sinner” pounded in every medium-sized venue all along the east coast, northern states and in the heartland. FRANK MARINO AND MAHOGANY RUSH LIVE was recorded during the subsequent American tour and showcased the versatilityand tightness normally unseen in a heavy metal trio. Included on the record were tributes to Chuck Berry and Jimi Hendrix with copies of “Johnny B Goode” and “Purple Haze”, a song Marino traditionally ended many shows with. Continual touring saw them sharing the stage with the likes of Aerosmith, Judas Priest and AC/DC.
Ironically it was another cover that finally got Mahogany Rush half-ass constant FM airplay in Canada in 1979. His version of Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” was the only single released from TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED. Haunting and mystic, his version is commonly referred to as the most under rated ever done. The other three studio tracks also showed a definite maturity in the writing. Incorporating more effects and over dubs, “Sister Change” still had the rawness synonomous with the name Frank Marino. While the instrumental title-track and the cover of “Norweigan Wood” showcased the band’s versatility. Side two of the record was four new tracks taped in various bars and captured the raw essence of a Mahogany Rush show, most notably in “Bottom of the Barrell” and “Door Of Illusion”.
A year later and WHAT’S NEXT was on the shelves. Again though, it seemed like Marino and company failed to build on the success of the previous record. That aside, songs like “You Got Livin”, “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” and a smoking cover of “Roadhouse Blues” became instant staples of the live shows. Though still concentrating on the States, the group did some dates in Europe but failed to receive the same attention.
THE POWER OF ROCK AND ROLL hit the stores in 1981. By this time however the obvious was becoming clear. Marino’s guitar-work had taken a back seat to the new-wave sounds of the day and the band found their audience had outgrown them and CBS dropped them from the label shortly thereafter.
Marino released his first true solo effort in ’82 on Maze Records called JUGGERNAUT, featuring new drummer Timm Bierry and Marino’s brother Vince on guitars. Though nothing truly ground-breaking, again Marino’s incredible guitar virtuosity was displayed, most noteable in numbers like the title-track. DOUBLE LIVE came out in ’83 as a Mahogany Rush record. Taken from gigs done on the east coast, it included the epic “Strange Dreams”, “You Got Livin” and “Rock Me Baby”. The band also showcased their blues roots with a rendition of “Who Do You Love”. Marino soon decided the band’s sound was no longer welcome and now without a label again, disbanded the group.
FULL CIRCLE hit the shelves in ’86. Though not really supported by the boys at Maze Records, it’s easily one of Marino’s most under-rated works, and is widely acknowledged by the die-hard fans as possibly one of his best. Marino got the boys back together in ’93 for another kick at the cat with FROM THE HIP as an independant release. With a renewed vigor, Marino’s musical influences shone through as he let loose on such tracks as “Babylon Revisited” and “The Stand”. Other tracks of note included the haunting “The Wall Came Down” and “Ride My Own Wave”. That same year saw him lend a hand to the compilation album FIT FOR A KING, made up of artists doing renditions of others’ material, where he performed “I’ll Play The Blues For You.”
’97 saw the release of a double ‘greatest hits’ package – DRAGONFLY. A collection of past studio and live tracks, it’s the quintessential Marino lp, perfect for anyone just now being introduced to the works of one of rock and roll’s most original artists. Marino broke in the new millenium with EYE OF THE STORM. Always the innovator, he combinedan Arabic guitar sound with solid drum beats on the cuts “Avalon” and the jazz-flavoured “He’s Calling”. He also wrote “Since You Came Into My Life”, a soulful track about his three daughters.
REAL LIVE, a 2 CD-set was released in 2004. Along with a sampling of his 30+ years career, it also featured covers of Hendrix, Cream, and The Zombies. A year later SECOND HAND SMOKE hit the scene. A tribute album produced by Rick Messina, it featured the likes of Ronnie Montrose (Gamma, Montrose) and George Lynch (Dokken), among others.
A true rock pioneer in every sense of the word, Frank Marino has never strayed from what he believed true – a good song isn’t necessarily one that’s played on the radio every half hour. Never compromising, he’s always done what he thought was right. Coincidentally, a fan base rivalled by few agrees.