Here’s a case of a band that had the good fortune to get signed to major label in the early 70s. Unfortunately it was to Motown, who was probably thinking they had another “Chicago” on their hands. The fact is they were most likely pushed to sound like them. Having both formed in the same town was where the similarities ended. Puzzle had a more soulful vibe owing that fact to singer/drummer John Lavigni. They never had that one breakout song to get on them on the charts and by their second album (titled The Second Album – was the band losing interest already?) one can feel the despair creeping in and the feeling of being lost. No track captures that any better than the last track on the LP, N.Y.C. Lavigni sings about being kicked out of his apartment and having nowhere to go while the band plays shuffles to a funky latin beat. (Was he living in Spanish Harlem?) Even at their “lowest” point the band still feels like if there’s not hope at least we can have fun.
Motown had no idea what to do with the band and their 2 LPs nowhere as well as having been erased from Motown’s history. Even Lavigni changed his name to John Valenti and continued a solo career. Could they have ever had a better shot & a bigger career? That’s the real puzzle.