Archive for the ‘ Folk ’ Category

Bobby Callendar “The Way (First Book Of Experiences)”

The Way

An orchestral and eastern influenced psychedelic pop gem, Bobby Callendar’s “The Way” sometimes gets the shaft to “Rainbow,” but I like “The Way.”

Sometimes, when folks are asked if they could interview anybody from any time, it would be Gandhi. But, The Rising Storm chooses Bobby C. Seriously, somebody needs to get the scoop on this mysterious and intriguing record. Bobby’s intense lyrics are matched with a mix of eastern instruments, lush strings, and tambourine. I can’t say why but the tambourine sticks in my memory. Nothing says 60s pop like that wonderful percussion instrument.

Bobby C. was clearly very into the Mike Love style 60s eastern Buddhism thing. “Sitting ‘neath the bodhi tree… as one.  The Story of Rasha & Dhara is essential listening for psychedelic music fans. It’s pretty, and strange, and sports one of the smoothest basslines of the 60s.

Not to say that this record is flawless. There are a few skippable tracks, all in all it’s nothing to brag about, but there are some real nice gems in here. The opening is miraculous, while others are catchy, and others take you quite by surprise. Be prepared for religous themes and a generally trippy experience.

The lack of availability to this record is a disappointment; the sturdy digipak casing, reminiscent of some of the best vinyl record sleeves, should be a standard for CD reissues. And like I’ve been saying, this one is a real gem.

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“Story of Rasha and Dhara”

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The Gosdin Brothers “Sounds of Goodbye”

soundsofgoodbye.jpg

The Gosdins were no strangers to country-rock in 1968. The prior year the two contributed harmony vocals and guitar to Gene Clark’s exquisite masterpiece, Gene Clark and the Gosdin Brothers. They had also released some great singles that were caught between the earlier Byrdsian folk-rock sound and a new, emerging country-rock scene (check out There Must Be Someone or I’ll Live Today).

Sounds of Goodbye, released in 1968, would be the duo’s only album together. It was a groundbreaking effort that somehow slipped through the cracks. The originals, For Us To Find and The Victim are outstanding cynical country rockers that stand out for Vern Gosdin’s crystal clear vocals with an added Bakersfield twang. On The Victim, the acoustics sparkle and glitter beautifully with a slight psychedelic production that adds to the Gosdin’s unique vision. Sounds of Goodbye and She’s Gone are very wistful and sad but good nonetheless, recalling Gene Clark’s material from around the same time.

It’s an album that should be filed alongside Swampwater, Gene Clark’s 1st solo album, Roots by the Everly Brothers, and the late 60’s Dillards material. Even the covers on this album are done with taste and care, Let It Be Me (The Everly Brothers hit) particulary stands out in this vein. The cd reissue on Big Beat adds 13 singles and outtakes to the original album, most of which are essential. The above mentioned I’ll Live Today’s intro recycle’s Gene Clarks I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better but eventually evolves into a folk-rock masterpiece. Hang On, one of their hit singles, even finds the Gosdin’s successfully experimenting with a mellotron – in a country rock song!!!

Then we have There Must Be Someone I Can Turn To, one of the first country rock standards and a good enough reason to buy this album. The Byrd’s did a nice version of this song on their Untitled album, but nothing beats the original. The only strange element to the album is the sleeve, in which the Gosdin brothers look like a couple of squares in turtlenecks.

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“The Victim”

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Stained Glass “Crazy Horse Roads”

Crazy Horse Roads

The wonderful world of Crazy Horse Roads, released in 1968 by Stained Glass, has been unjustly forgotten with the passing of time. The band started out life covering Beatles songs in San Jose, California. Their first single, a cover of the Beatles’ If I Needed Someone was released in 1966. It was a respectable cover of the Beatle’s classic though the flip was better, being a moody folk-rock original.

The single tanked, prompting the band to quickly release the self-penned My Buddy Sin later on that year. My Buddy Sin was an excellent folk rock song with wailing harmonica, soaring harmonies, sharp lyrics and an acid tinged production. This single failed to attract attention despite it’s quality, forcing the band to record a brill building classic for their next 45.

In the 1960’s, artists and rock bands depended on the success of the single to grant them artistic and creative control/freedom (making albums). We Got A Long Way To Go was a huge local hit, well executed, pleasant enough and professional, though betraying the band’s roots and creative aspirations. A few other decent though commercially unsuccessful singles followed in the psychedelic pop vein. Eventually the band was granted freedom to record two albums on the Capital label.

Crazy Horse Roads is a unique effort, and much different from their jam oriented Aurora album. There are some solid psych pop songs (Night Cap, Twiddle My Thumbs and Fingerpainting), soul rock (Two Make One and Fahrenheit), galloping country-rock (Horse On Me) and hard folk-rockers (Light Down Below, Doomsday, I Sing You Sing, and Soap and Turkey). Doomsday really stands out as the lost mini classic though, with some huge vibrating fuzz riffs, hard strumming accoustic guitars, tight harmonies and a psychedelic production. Night Cap is also a really good bouncy, twisted psych pop song with a British influence. You never know whats coming next throughout the album and the band’s sound resembles Moby Grape, HMS Bounty and Buffalo Springfield.

Aurora, released the following year (1969), is only half a good album finding the band indulging in a guitar based San Fransisco ballroom style. Jim McPherson, the founding member of Stained Glass, went on to form Copperhead with Quicksilver’s John Cippolina. Together they made one expensive (for the time), quality album that was overlooked in it’s day. Oh, and by the way, this album is housed in arguably the greatest cover of the 60’s.

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“Doomsday”

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Whistler, Chaucer, Detroit, and Greenhill “The Unwritten Works Of Geoffrey, Etc.”

The Unwritten Works of Geoffrey, Etc.

This is an accomplished album for a band that was barely noticed in their day. In fact, their real names are David Bullock, John Carrick, Scott Fraser, Philip White, and Eddie K. Lively. With the exception of the horrible, trippy music hall influenced Street In Paris, The Unwritten Works of Geoffrey, Etc. is loaded with good songs.

I don’t believe these guys ever played any live gigs as Whistler, Chaucer, Detroit and Greenhill. More or less WCDG were a group of friends experimenting with the sounds of the day. They did this sort of experimentation in their basements until they were rewarded a recording contract. This Texas foursome knew how to write, play and sing and could compete on a number of levels with any peers you care to name. They were a one of a kind band that blended folk, blues, country, psychedelia, soul, and rock seamlessly (think Moby Grape or Buffalo Springfield).

The opening song, The Viper, sounds like a lost track from an early Allman Brothers album, being a great blend of outlaw country and folk rock. Day of Childhood is an intense, psychedelic classic with some great Byrds influenced Rickenbacker guitar, Neil Young-like vocals and swirling backwards guitar solos. Other great moments are House of Collection which is highlighted by some creepy, dazed organ and the righteous droning psych of Ready To Move. The remaining compositions combine folk, light psychedelia and country elements effectively, making this album full of variety.

The band released one more album in the early 70’s, changing their name to Space Opera. Space Opera is a pretty unique effort as well, mixing Byrds influenced folk/country with the burgeoning progressive rock scene.

“Day Of Childhood”

Don’t Buy Fallout or Radioactive

This record has unfortunately been heisted by Fallout Records and is being sold without permission from the artist or copyright holders. We won’t be reviewing any more records that are only available from Fallout and urge you to find it in any way that won’t profit this pirate organization. Click here to learn more.

The Beau Brummels “Triangle”

Triangle

The Beau Brummels hit it big in the early 60s with their hits “Laugh Laugh” and “Just A Little” which were produced by Sly of the Family Stone. As English as they tried to appear, they were an American rock band hailing from San Fransisco.

I wholeheartedly recommend that you check out their early material, especially a record called From The Vaults, but it’s their adventurous and refreshing 1967 Triangle that steals the show. Sal Valentino is the voice of the Brummels, a vox of raw power and vibrato, certainly a highly unique voice that matches an almost unclassifiable and surprising album. Triangle has everything: it’s a tightly produced country record that is rooted in rock; it’s straight and folky and underlined by psychedelic imagery.

The production always drew me in on these records. By records, I mean, if you like this one, you’re in luck because there’s also Bradley’s Barn, a sequel of sorts to Triangle that was recorded in Nashville with some exceptional picking and production. Sometimes modern music can sound over produced – Bradley’s Barn and Triangle are like that, but in an inviting, interesting way, rather than a glossy, manufactured way.

Merle Travis’ “Nine Pound Hammer” is masterfully covered on this record, the most inventive version I’ve heard and one that always catches bluegrass audiences by surprise. Songs like the excellent “Magic Hollow,” “The Wolf of Velvet Fortune,” and “Painter of Women” are songs you’ll never hear anywhere near a record deemed “country.” Other’s, like Randy Newman’s “Old Kentucky Home” and “Are You Happy?” are straight up good timers.

Pick this one up, it may take a little getting used to, but it’s well worth it. The Beau Brummels are a seriously underrated treasure. Note to Beau Brummel fans: you’ll be wanting this.

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“The Keeper Of Time”

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Henske & Yester “Farewell Aldebaran”

Farewell Aldebaran

Farewell Aldebaran was one of the key albums that signified the end of the 60’s. It’s one of the great cult rock records with a beautiful melancholy edge that few artists have equaled since.

Farewell Aldebaran was released by the fabled Straight label in 1969. Both Judy Henske (folk) and Jerry Yester (production) had been in the music business for years before cutting this astonishing record. It’s actually unbelievable that few people picked up on the great music this duo produced. After almost 40 years, this album comes off like a well worn classic. Every song is uniformly strong and there are some exquisite arrangements, weird but clever lyrics, and creative string and horn arrangements.

The harpsichord laced folk ballad Lullaby is strangely alluring, with a puzzled, jarring edge that recalls how our great nation felt as the decade came to an uncertain end. Snowblind, opens the album with a boom, it’s really the oddball amongst a quiet group of songs but an effective, hard charging psychedelic rocker nonetheless. This composition really gives Henske room to stretch out and let her vocals roar with conviction and arrogance. The Raider is another great song with a great backwoods feel. For some people this is absolute nirvana, five minutes of great fiddle, banjo, accoustic guitars and hillbilly vocalizing delivered with 1850’s drunk on whiskey venom. But this is really just the beginning, as there are gothic ballads, bubblegum pop, entrancing folk-rock and psychedelic love songs. Three Ravens, is an absolutely stunning psychedelic ballad with a sweeping string arrangement (and horns) and an otherworldly vocal performance from Judy Henske. Others may have a soft spot for Charity, which is a finely crafted sunshine pop, folk-rock song with just a hint of sadness.

At this point in the decade, the Vietnam War and civil rights issues were exhausting people and musicians worldwide. Hence, you can hear the pain within the music. The duo managed to release one more album in 1970 under the Rosebud moniker. Rosebud was fair at best, possessing none of the magic the duo captured on Farewell Aldebaran. I must add that it’s records like Farewell Aldebaran that keep me going. It’s rare to come across something so honest, unpretentious, homespun and most of all, real. A wonder to behold!!

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“Lullaby”

This record has unfortunately been heisted by Fallout Records and is being sold without permission from the artist or copyright holders. We won’t be reviewing any more records that are only available from Fallout and urge you to find it in any way that won’t profit this pirate organization. Click here to learn more.

The Watersons “Bright Phoebus”

Bright Phoebus

The Watersons are to English folk what the Carter Family are to American Country & Western music, an institution. Bright Phoebus is the white elephant in their great catalog, an album of original material (not one traditional cover amongst its 12 songs!!).

Mike and Lal Waterson wrote these compositions and trade off vocal duties throughout the album. A superstar cast of musicians (Martin Charthy and Richard Thompson handle guitars and backup vocals) assist them throughout, creating what some have called the Sgt. Pepper of the English folk scene.

Bright Phoebus was released in 1972, though I believe many of these songs were recorded in the late 1960’s – I am not positive on recording dates. The album itself, is very warm and eclectic, encompassing a variety of styles such as psychedelia, rock, folk, country, and rockabilly. All these styles are filtered through a unique English sensibility which gives the record originality and origin. There are some great acid folk/folk-rock moves in the album opener, Rubber Band, which has some of the strangest lyrics this reviewer has ever heard. This song is followed by the enchanting Scarecrow, a pastoral acid folk song sung by Mike Waterson which is absolutely marvelous. Magic Man is another good acid influenced number with some playful childlike lyrics and bouncy percussive sounds. Fine Horsemen is a very serious folk song with some beautiful singing by Lal and a excellent string arrangement.

The album ends with Bright Phoebus, an upbeat country ditty that brings great promise and optimism to a very serious folk-rock masterpiece. It’s one of the highlights of this great record, which never makes all-time album lists but surely deserves to!

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Only Available in UK

Moby Grape “Moby Grape”

Moby Grape

Moby Grape’s debut encapsulates the frantic power and inspired genius of the group in the brief moment that it existed. All members contributed songs to this explosive record, giving each song a fresh feel within the triple-guitar rock/country/psych Grape sound. The songs are quick, great, and perfect illustrators of the San Fransisco sound from whence they came.

The problem is, things practically fell apart for the Grape after their debut record; it’s widely reported that the talents of this great, legendary band fell prey to mismanagement. If the Jefferson Airplane were today’s “Strokes,” then Moby Grape were “The Vines” or “Jet” or whatever over-hyped carbon copy band the music industry could get on the shelves in the wake of the former. Their record company released five singles at once, trying to stir up an artificial demand. Worst of all, the mismanagement continues today with the Moby Grape name being held hostage by some guy named Matthew Katz (hence, the still exorbitant CD price). The 2007 reissue of this record from Sundazed has been halted as well, producing a stilted run of 180G vinyl lps that are going for hefty prices on ebay.

Following the recording of this record, frontman Skip Spence lost it Syd Barrett style and took an axe with him on a short rampage at his band member’s hotel before being committed to Bellevue Hospital. After his release, he would take off on his motorcycle, equipped in pajamas rather than leather jacket, on the way to record his magnificent, and only solo album, Oar.

But despite these unfortunate circumstances, Moby Grape’s eponymous debut remains well respected as one of the best albums of the psychedelic era, its sound still holding up extremely well. In fact, you may have even heard the sometimes classic rock radio-worthy Omaha. And while this powerful debut may be one of the best rock records of all time, the Grape managed to reinstate its spirit in moments over several more excellent albums during their frenzied life span.

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“Fall On You”

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The Tokens “Intercourse”

Intercourse

You definitely know who the Tokens are. Think: “….Wimoweh, a wimoweh…”

The Tokens are best known for their massive 1961 #1 hit (US/UK) recording of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” In the late 60s, influenced by the Beatles and the Boys (Smiley Smile), Mitch Margo and The Tokens recorded a wildly psychedelic selection of songs written during “a pretty blue period” in Mitch’s life.

Admittedly, some songs haven’t stood the test of time as well as the Boys’ songs. Even I have trouble playing the overtly druggy Commercial in the presence of others. But really, I have to recommend you get your hands on this album because it will likely blow you away. The songs are simply beautfiul.

If you don’t get this album, you should at least rejoice in the opening mantra: “It’s amazing to be alive, all I can say is stay alive.” Also, be aware of the cover art… I have seen two other versions that portray Intercourse as either a lo-fi/punk record or a mid-eighties Kinks record.

Tokens Albums

I got this album from the link supplied below, and I happened to receive the Oglio CD which features the original cover art crudely featured at the top of this post. It is amazing to be alive!

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“Wonderful Things”

The Tokens - Intercourse

All I Can Say Is Stay Alive!