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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bow Street Runners - Bow Street Runners (1970 us, marvelous fuzzy psych with west coast breeze, Sundazed release)



Sounding like a blend of Jefferson Airplane and the Doors, Bow Street Runners was a Fayetteville, North Carolina-based psychedelic band who released one eponymous album in limited quantities on B.T. Puppy Records in 1970. 

While the group was ignored at the time, Bow Street Runners became a collectible item among psychedelic aficionados during the '80s and '90s. Flushed from Fayetteville, North Carolina-where they thought they could remain comfortably obscure-by our release of their only album, the Runners have recently re-surfaced. 

Issued in ultra-limited quantity by B.T. Puppy in 1970-and now changing hands for sums more familiar to NASDAQ-this is an other-worldly blend of sweet female blotter acid harmonies, hypnotic Farfisa and high-octane fuzz guitar histrionics. 


Tracks
1. Electric Star - 2:35
2. Watch - 2:12
3. American Talking Blues - 3:48
4. Leaving Grit America - 2:49
5. Another Face - 5:11
6. Eating from a Plastic Hand - 4:06
7. Rock Fish Blues - 2:13
8. Push It Through - 2:04
9. Spunky Monkey - 3:15
10.Steve's Jam - 4:05

The Bow Street Runners
*Steve Darling - Guitar, Vocals
*David Guy - Keyboards, Vocals
*George Graham - Drums, Percussion
*William Simkiss - Bass, Guitar, Vocals
*Frank Hardwick - Bass
*Mike Dees - Guitar

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9 comments:

Laurent said...

I didn't knew this great gem, i can now going to heaven in peace. Many thanks for the discover, Marios.

PS: good news, God don't want me... i haven't yet finished my musical research.

adamus67 said...

Official reissue of their rare 1970 release featuring an other-worldly blend of sweet female acid harmonies....using the trippy, folky rock of Jefferson Airplane and eerie, organ-driven soundscapes as a foundation, the Bow Street Runners may not have many original ideas in their head, but that's part of their appeal. Their lone, eponymous album is filled with attempts at hippie mysticism and menacing, swirling fuzzy psychedelia, yet the group has neither the inclination or the talent to turn it into something original. Nevertheless, the group is somewhat distinctive in the ways its attempts fail -- "Spunky Monkey" is an aimless and slightly ridiculous blues jam, "Eating from a Plastic Hand" has a silly, ominous minor-key melody and, best of all, "Watch" sounds like Ringo Starr fronting the Doors. It doesn't make for good or provocative music, but as a late-'60s artifact, it's fascinating.

One of the headiest albums on the BT Puppy label a really fuzzed-up sound that's underground psyche at its best! The group have a pretty dark feel overall and even when the vocals get a bit sweet, there's an undercurrent of sadness which is followed through even more strongly on other tracks that have the guitars playing at a heavier level, especially on a few tracks that have a slight bluesy undercurrent. The titles do a good job of setting the scene and they include "Steve's Jam", "Eating From A Plastic Hand", "Rock Fish Blues", "Push It Through", "Spunky Monkey", and "Leaving Grit America"...While the group was ignored at the time, Bow Street Runners became a collectible item among psychedelic aficionados during the '80s and '90s.

Laurent said...

Someone here know who is this marvelous female vocalist?. Ok, it seems there's not much more information on the original LP, but i'm surprised that on a official reissue label like Sundazed there's no musician's credit or historical story.
Thanks for any additional information.

adamus67 said...

@ Laurent, Good to see you again...probably the mysterious woman's voice can be...to quote Michael Walden.
"My sister is the female blotter acid singer you hear on this album. I was at the recording of this album in the Haymont section of Fayetteville, NC. What a gas to hear it again. Frank Hardwick (songwriter) went through a very imaginative period here. He passed away recently, but was thrilled at the renewed success of the album."

adamus67 said...

There aren't any info liner notes in the Sundazed CD reissue.
Doing a little research, I found out the band is from North Carolina and this (their only) release had become a very highly sought after collectable. And that's about it. Not much else to base a review on...except for maybe the picture of the band, which is in itself a mystery.

Five seemingly clean-cut young men of the late 60s, they look pretty tame, but oh what mischief they get up to!

Things starts off fairly innocently with the poppy beginnings of "Electric Star", a sixties female pop number...huh? wait a second...where was the girl in the band picture? hmmmm... compared to Jefferson Airplane and I guess if you only listen to the first 30 seconds, uh yea, or maybe some other sunshine pop band. Quickly things go askew when the lead guitar comes in. Toss in some great inventive production work and intelligent arrangements and this gets really heavy. No, it's past and into Zappa/Beefheart territory. Although the instrumentation throughout the album never strays far from the basic rock band lineup (guitar, bass, drums, organ) they are doing some very wild stuff with it.

"Watch" is a much heavier tune that has the guys singing lead. A very ugly contrast to the great female vocals in the previous song. Thankfully the singing doesn't last too long and the band just jams out for a while. There seem to be all kinds of weird production things all over the album; nothing really complex, just studio sounds like tapes rewinding and such, but it is kinda neat. "American Talking Blues" is a really cool bluesy number with much better vocals and very intricate guitar work.

The next song makes think of Zappa every time I hear it for some reason. "Leaving Grit America": even the name sounds like it could be a Mothers of Invention piece. This one has a combination of female and male vocals. There do seem to be a number of different people who sing on this and the styles really differ from song to song.

The next few songs show the band sinking deeper and deeper into the weirdness with the freakish acid mind blow "Another Face" and the weirdly jazzy "Eating From A Plastic Hand". They finally go totally over the deep end with "Spunky Monkey", a wild gritty funk tune with horns!

The album ends with a killer instrumental jam called "Steve's Jam". Oh by the way, which one's Steve?

The Bow Street Runners album surely won't go down as one of the greatest works of the era and they probably couldn't track down those five (or more) clean cut North Carolina kids to do a reunion but it is an excellent work that deserves more exposure than it got. Thanks to faithful collectors and conscientious labels the memory of many an underground artist that might have fallen into obscurity is preserved a little longer.

Thx Marios.

Laurent said...

@Adamus67: Thanks my Friend!

adamus67 said...

@Laurent: is cool once again to be with You, the one side of the barricades music, she connects ... Yours,my Friend!

Sergey said...

thank you very much!

Marios said...

.....Bow...Street...Running...Again......