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Tuesday, February 28, 2023

The Stillroven - Cast Thy Burden Upon (1966-68 us, spectacular garage beat psych)

The Stillroven may be an unknown quantity to most listeners -- even those specializing in '60s music -- but these 18 songs are all well worth hearing for anyone who enjoys not just garage punk music of the era, but also solid mid-'60s pop/rock. Based on what's here, the Stillroven should have had a shot at national exposure and a major-label contract -- an opinion likely shared by anyone favorably inclined toward the type of American band that would cover the music of the early (i.e., pre-psychedelic) Moody Blues. 

(Add to that the fact that the Stillroven's rendition of "And My Baby's Gone" -- which was a potential follow-up to their single "Hey Joe" and gives some indication of their range -- is, if anything, more energetic than the Moodies' original.) And their ventures into psychedelia, such as "Cast Thy Burden Upon the Stone," are filled with strange little touches -- the latter melds sitar flourishes and garage punk textures successfully into a compelling whole, with some influences of early Pink Floyd showing up in the second half, totally out of left field. And they do a version of the Small Faces' "Tell Me Have You Ever Seen Me" that is worth the price of admission, coming from a Minnesota-spawned band. They were also able to cover the Yardbirds' psych-pop single "Little Games" with greater enthusiasm than the Yardbirds themselves, and their version has an edge that the original lacked in the verses, even if the break isn't quite as technically bold as what Jimmy Page and company did.

Their version of "(I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone" is also well worth the listening time, familiar as the song is, for the abandon of their execution. And the Stillroven covers of the Rolling Stones and Love material are similarly impressive, showing off different attributes of their musicianship. All through this collection, it's clear that the Stillroven knew how to translate their best musical impulses as well as a lot of creative performance flourishes to their recordings without sacrificing energy or excitement. What the Stillroven lacked was an individual sound that was sufficiently memorable to make a lingering impression, and they might well not have fared too much better than they did, even with some national exposure. But as interpreters, and undoubtedly as a live band, they were first-rate, and this collection does distill that virtue down successfully from more than 50 years back.
by Bruce Eder

1. (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone (Bobby Hart, Tommy Boyce) - 2:29
2. She's My Woman (Dave Dean, John Howarth) - 2:45
3. Hey Joe (Billy Roberts) - 2:39
4. Sunny Day (Dave Dean, John Howarth) - 2:24
5. And My Baby's Gone (Denny Laine, Mike Pinder) - 2:13
6. Little Picture Playhouse (Eric Hine) - 2:05
7. Cast Thy Burden Upon The Stone (Dave Dean) - 2:46
8. Tell Me Have You Ever Seen Me (Ronnie Lane, Steve Marriott) - 2:27
9. Have You Got A Penny (David Stuart Sandler) - 2:38
10.Cheating (Dave Rowberry, Eric Burdon) - 2:51
11.Little Games (Phil Wainman) - 2:27
12.Love Is A Beautiful Thing (Felix Cavaliere, Gene Cornish) - 2:37
13.Under My Thumb (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) - 2:53
14.Signed D.C (Arthur Lee) - 2:48
15.Come In The Morning (Bob Mosley) - 2:10
16.Necessary Person (Mike O'Gara) - 2:27
17.Tell Me Have You Ever Seen Me (Ronnie Lane, Steve Marriott) - 2:32
18.Freakout (Phil Berdahl, Dave Dean, John Howarth, Dave Berget, Jim Larkin) - 7:01

The Stillroven
*John Howarth - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Phil Berdahl - Drums 
*Dave Dean - Keyboard 
*Dan Kane - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar (Tracks 1-5, 10-13)
*Rock Peterson - Bass (Tracks 1-5, 10-13)
*Mike O'Gara - Guitar, Vocals (Tracks 8, 14-18)
*Dave Berget - Bass, Vocals (Tracks 6,7,18)
*Jim Larkin - Rhythm Guitar (Tracks 6,7,18)
*Mike Flaherty - Bass (Tracks 14-16)