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Barrel wasn't quite Michaels in his most minimalist two-man band format. Drummer Frosty was still the prime accompanist, and Michaels played most of the other instruments, but Drake Levin did help out on guitar. The strengths of the album are the strengths of most of Michaels's early-1970s material: rich funk-rock-gospel vocals and keyboards. The weaknesses are also common to much of Michaels's albums from the period: a lack of truly outstanding songs and a reliance upon slow to mid-tempo bluesy songs that sound too much alike. Some moderate circa-1970 counterculture sentiments surfaced in songs like "What Now America," but the undoubted highlight was his rousing cover of Moby Grape's "Murder in My Heart (For the Judge)."