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Monday, October 8, 2012

Taos - Taos (1971 us, beautiful psychedelic pop with folk country tinges, 2012 Kismet edition)

Here’s an unusual jewel, released on Mercury Records in 1971. The band Taos was actually a quintet pieced together by a group of young men who had moved to the legendary Taos commune in the early 1970s, namely: Jeff Baker on guitar and vocals, Steve Oppenheim on keyboards and vocals, Albie Ciappa on drums, Burt Levine on guitar and banjo, and Kit Bedford on bass, with the occasional intermixing of instruments going on in between cuts. If the band’s commune connection leads you into expecting some sort of stoned, improvisational musical meanderings, however, you’re in for a surprise: their sole, self-titled record is pop music all the way.

Indeed, the band itself is surprisingly together, tempering mildly eccentric diversions into psychedelia and country music with a solid foundation in 1960s rock and roll. If there’s one band to which Taos owes its biggest debt, I’d say it would have to be The Beatles. Kit Bedford’s warm, melodic bass work channels Paul McCartney all the way, while the group’s vocal harmonies show a tendency to lean more towards the ragged schoolboy charm of the Four than the choirboy constructions of American groups such as the Byrds, or the Mamas and Papas. This influence is not to say that Taos lacks an identity of its own, however. On the contrary, they manage to take this influence in surprising directions, whether it’s the lonesome cosmic cowboy pastiche “After So Long” or the phased psychedelic boogie of “Twenty Thousand Miles In the Air Again”.

Despite the general cohesiveness of the album, however, there are the occasional faults, such as the unnecessary, repeating theme “The Day Begins,” which should have simply been turned into a full-fledged song rather than left as fragmentary interruptions in the tracklist. Every now and again the musicians also reveal a slight weakness in the vocal department, as the slightly squirrely lead on “Morning Sun” illustrates. Lastly, the song lyrics aren’t really worth shedding too much ink over – there’s certainly no metaphysical contemplation or social commentary going on here, whatever other Sixties sensibilities the record may boast. 

These latter complaints border on quibbling, though, because the music here is almost too much fun to criticize. Again, this is pop music, and should be enjoyed for what it is. I think that Taos is certainly consistent enough that, if you’re digging the tracks below, you’re gonna like what you hear the rest of the way through.

1. Space Bird - 2:44
2. Think I'll Wait - 3:53
3. Morning Sun - 2:17
4. 20,000 Miles In The Air (Again) - 2:51
5. All My Life - 2:42
6. Everybody's Movin' (In The Sunshine) - 3:21
7. Love's Face - 2:46
8. Putting My Faith In You - 4:59
9. On The Way Down - 0:42
10.Climbing Up The Mountain - 3:22
11.Take Good Care - 1:55
12.After So Long (So Long) - 3:21

*Jeff Baker - Guitar, Vocals,
*Steve Oppenheim - Keyboards, Vocals
*Albie Ciappa - Drums
*Burt Levine - Guitar, Banjo
*Kit Bedford - Bass

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Daniel said...

Nice album of 60s pop. Thanks Marios

Woody said...

Great surprise. Thank you very much!!!

Laurent said...

Even if i didn't knew this album, by a look to the cover, this was exactly the music i have imagined, a mix of pop rock & country. As many others band of that era, you can find the influence of the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, sometimes Poco. Not the same level as these supergroups, but very pleasant to listen, deserve to be discovered or re-discovered.
For the vinyl maniacs, the original album was released in a beautiful gatefold cover with a poster inside. Testimony to an era when everything was possible to attract the eye of the buyer, despite the costs of produce. For those who possess the album of Sand - s/t (1973, barnaby records, another fine rural rock album in a CSNY / Poco feel), they will understand. Double disc with two one sided LPs for a single album, only for have the possibility to listen the record without interruption ( provided you have the adequate equipment ), unthinkable nowadays...
Thanks a lot Marios for sharing this fine album.

juan manuel muñoz said...

thanks a lot

gregg said...

I own this disc and have always loved it. Quirky to say the least, but it has such an early Beatles pop charm (pre-psychedelic Sgt. Pepper)with a second helping of C&W... "say you love me 'coz I'm Handsome!!!" Thanks for posting it.

kobilica said...

Thanks for this wonderful album...

adamus67 said...

Splendidly....first time on CD edit Kismet . Digitally remastered mellow, unpretentious, good-natured rural rock. Their songs are catchy, with sweet vocal harmonies. Blending acoustic and electric guitars with loads of tambourines.
The band Taos was actually a quintet pieced together by a group of young men who had moved to the legendary Taos (New Mexico)....As the hippie dream turned ugly at the end of the 60s, plenty of folks decided to get out of the city & get back to basics.
A huge commune in Taos, New Mexico called New Buffalo that was home to these fellas, and by 70 they were making laid back, slightly nerdy country rock with Byrds harmonies.
The album was from 1968/1969. Lost U.S. rural rock gem, originally released in 1/1/1969 pressing "red" label Mercury SR 61257 US (Promo copy)
Thx Marios.

ge said...

I live about an hour from Taos!
this is a very nice surprise

mike kemps said...

Marios, many thanks for this rarity. Take care.

Anonymous said...

Marios said...

Thank you my friend for the video/audio.

Anonymous said...

I play in a band called 'The B2_s' with Kit Bedford. He is one awesome musician. We do 'SpaceBird" and '20,000 MIles' all the time in the show. It is a lost gem. We may be reproducing a lot of it soon with full permission from the band members.

Let me know if you want to be on our email distribution for updates jeannine (at sign) or FRIEND us on FaceBook "Sing The Beatles"

Burt said...

Hi, this is Burt from Taos. We were there in 1968/1969, while the communes and 'Easy Rider' were going on. The locals would take pot shots at us and burned down the movie theater where we played a free gig for the residents. We were being watched and filmed by the FBI. We were all love and peace living in Nature's Glory, but the population around us was often savage. When we left to go on tour, the house we were living in was burned down. I'm much happier here in Silverlake.

Burt said...

Burt, again. The album was released in 1969. We had rehearsed at Link Wray's cousin's
3-track studio in Maryland, where Elvis had recorded his first tunes, and we played a practice gig at the Executive Office Building, in D.C. Link showed me how he made his 'fuzz tone'. He had punched holes in the speaker of his amp with a pencil. Sounded very fuzzy. I preferred my Manny's Fuzz, though. This was still the end of the 1960s. Soon, Disco and cocaine destroyed the scene.

Burt said...

Oh, Burt again, the record album has these great photos by Baron Wollman of Rolling Stone magazine on the insides of the jacket and the poster that shows Taos Pueblo, the house we lived in, and various people who were there. Too bad the CD did not reproduce those. I tried to find the photos that were published in several issues of Rolling Stone at the time, but the folks there have not heard of the 20th century. There is a great photo of my butt illustrating the award for Best Band - Creedence Clearwater - but it's still my butt. Probably Baron's joke.

Marios said...

Thank you very much Burt, for the detailed information, but most thank you for the music with Taos.

Miles said...


Thanks for reminding me of this charming timepiece. I recall owning this years ago and enjoying it (although apparently not enough to hold on to it. Too bad. The jacket was quite nice too.)

I didn't know that it had been re-released. I look forward to hearing it again some 40 years later.