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Sunday, April 28, 2024

Umbra - Umbra (1971-72 us, remarkable prog psych rock, 2018 remaster)

Umbra was founded in 1969 and continued to solidify into 1970. Steve describes Umbra as “a progressive, psychedelic, jam group”.  I had the privilege of listening to the band’s “garage” recordings from that period and have to say this was a very diverse and talented ensemble. Steve recalled that the tracks were put down on a 4 track and a 2 track recorder and recorded at a band member’s home.

Most of the band members were from local Denver area high schools with the exception of Nick Melliadis who came from New York.  Steve attended South High School which wasn’t a good fit for him back then. “I didn’t care much for high school so I dropped out to pursue my music.” It was a decision that worked very well for Steve. He did achieve his GED, but more importantly acquired a rich and deep education in music with his adventures from Umbra up to the present day.

The name “Umbra” was selected by the band while perusing the dictionary – an exercise common with bands back then (and maybe even now). “Umbra translates to “shadow on moon”, stated Steve. “We wanted a name that was short, mysterious, easy to remember, and sounded cool.”

Some on-line Umbra band histories state that the group was a ‘weekend band’.  Faulkner corrects this, “The truth is, we were a full-time band.  We did a lot of four and five night gigs locally and on the road.”  Steve continues, “We did a ton of road work.  We had a very good regional reputation.”  Umbra appeared regularly in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas as well as a few more States.

The original group was comprised of Steve on drums, Eric Frazee on lead guitar, and Terry Lewis on bass.  They were joined a little later on by twin brothers Gary and Larry Mann.  Larry departed in 1971. Nick Melliadis (alias “Nick Stoner”) joined Umbra later that year. Nick played guitar, harmonica, and sang lead vocals with Gary.  Gary would leave in late 1974 or early 1975.  The group continued on until 1976.

The band would work at many local venues including “The Rest of the Week”, “The House of Draught”, “Sam’s” on Lookout Mountain, “Tulagi” in nearby Boulder, Colorado, the “Eighth Infinity” at 1st and Broadway, the “Rathskellar” (which was recently destroyed by a fire) and more. “We appeared often at the Eighth Infinity”, Faulkner recalled. He continued, “We were literally the last band to perform at the Exodus in downtown Denver.” Steve explains that after the band had wrapped up their set, and were outside loading up their musical gear, the Denver police converged on the Exodus, stormed the entry and promptly locked the doors.

The Exodus was apparently delinquent in city tax or fee payments and were thus shut down, never to open their doors again.

Steve’s journeys through the local music scene put him in touch with Joel Cowan a local jazz musician who worked with the likes of Nat “King” Cole, The Ink Spots and Patti Page. Cowan would join up with a Chicago musician on Denver’s Band Box group releasing a LP on the Spicy Label titled “Party Time” (shown below). Cowan and Faulkner would become good friends and worked together for a time at Simmon’s Music on Broadway in downtown Denver.

Through his work, Faulkner would meet many, including Denver polka band leader Herman Dinges who was hugely popular throughout the Colorado Front Range. Steve would also become well acquainted with Denver recording star drummer Ronny Kae, visiting him often at Ronnie’s Drum City music store in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.

“I would come into the store and go back to Ronnie’s desk where we would converse while beating on drum pads to pass the time”, Steve recalled.  Kae would release an LP and several singles on Denver’s Band Box label as well as his own “Honey” record label. Several of his tracks charted locally on KIMN and other Denver area radio stations.

Steve can pull up band names, venues he frequented and acquaintances he made in a long succession:  Mr. Lucky’s, The God Father, the Fetal Pig, Aphrodite (at the Infinity), the band Mandrake, the Wild Ones with guitar extraordinaire Ron Morgan, The Crystal Palace Guard, The Fogcutters, Lothar and the Hand People, the Galaxy Nightclub on West Alameda and many more!

During the 1970’s Steve would join up with Monte Dale and the late Joe Martinez (“Little Joe”). They performed as a trio and Steve doesn’t believe that they worked under an official group name.  Steve fondly remembers Joe Martinez, “Joe (was) much more influential in my life than most people.”

Dale had earlier cut four tracks released as singles for the CLW label out of Edgewater in the western part of the Denver metro area. Joe Martinez was another Band Box recording artist who had been a member of the 1960’s band “The Fabulous Cyclones”.

Beginning in 1966, Steve experienced a rich career which included working at Fred’s Music headed up by musician/instructor Fred Tafoya, a figure who played a very important role in Steve’s life, as a coach, a mentor and a dear friend.   Many local musicians would come through the store befriending Faulkner with their mutual pursuit of excellent drumming and making music.

Faulkner would do a stint with a band called “Lightning County” from 1988 into 1994 doing a country and rock n’ mix.  Faulkner recalls, “Lightning County” began as a part-time band and then evolved to a full-time band.”  We played locally and on the road for nine months at a time – six weeks out – two weeks back.”

Steve continues, “This was the only time I couldn’t teach.  This culminated with the European six week tour when Desert Storm broke out.”

That band had the privilege of touring through Europe performing at U.S. military bases. They had to make a retreat to the U.S. when terrorist activity began occurring frequently and the U.S. bases were on alert.

Steve shared this: “Two other noteworthy bands that I played in would be the Jennifer Price Band (did an all original CD with her] and a band called Bustopher Jones. I played a lot with both bands. Once in a while, both bands merged. We called that band the Outlets.”

And today Steve continues to work with Umbra band member Nick Melliadis in a band called “Secret City”.  Bass player Nathan Baker came in a few years ago replacing Terry Lewis.  Faulkner and Baker had previously played together in a band called “Bradford Junction”.

Today Eric Frazee resides in the mountain town of Bailey, Gary Mann lives in Denver.  The Secret City LP charted nationally in 2019 entering the “Jambands” Top 30 for 2 months!

Steve’s long career continues to this day teaching drums. Among his other musical endeavors, Steve was a long-time drum instructor at Rockley Music which was located on West Colfax in Lakewood.   Rockley first opened in 1946 finally closing in December of 2019.

In the early days, Umbra never made it onto vinyl in spite of laying down the 8 tracks in one of their homes very early on in their careers. That would change when Steve would come into contact with Vincent Tornatore, the founder of “Lion Productions” located in Geneva, Illinois.

Steve recounts, “I worked on obtaining a recording deal with Lion for a good two years or more from the initial introduction up until the debut vinyl LP and CD were released.”

The owner of Lion Productions, Vincent Tornatore, did the final mastering of Umbra’s music.  Tornature started up Lion Productions concentrating initially on reissuing Canadian psychedelic bands and expanding to other genres and over time becoming, in Tornature’s words “champions of the obscure”.

“What was available to unknown hard rocking dreamers like Umbra in Denver in 1971-72? Weekend gigs. Nothing but weekend gigs. But there was an upside to that: bands like Umbra could mix original material in with covers, and make enough money to survive. Or in the case of Umbra, to make enough money to build a home studio, where they recorded ads to promote their upcoming shows—and eventually, laid down the eight tracks on this disc. Everything was recorded by bouncing tracks back and forth between two-track and four-track reel-to-reel tape recorders. Spacey intros and weird effects were created by recording guitar licks, then re-recording them played backwards at double speed. What sounds like a flute was the result of blowing over the top of a 14” goose neck (believe it or not).

The resulting tracks are hard edged and heavy, verging on acid rock at times. Makes sense, as Umbra was a power trio most of their too-brief existence. Yet the songs (heavy though they are) have a deft touch. There are weird effects, space rock elements, plenty of melody, and a refreshing category-free approach to writing songs that makes Umbra’s music exciting to hear.”

1. Jupiter Probe - 5:01
2. C Mr. Me - 6:17
3. Harp Strings - 4:29
4. Denver Over Glide - 4:12
5. Ho Pideous - 3:33
6. Bloon Moan - 3:13
7. Ides - 3:57
8. Siberia - 3:55
All songs by Steve Faulkner, Terry Lewis, Eric Frazee

*Steve Faulkner - Drums, Percussion
*Terry Lewis - Bass
*Eric Frazee - Lead Guitar
*Gary Mann - Vocals (Tracks 4-8)
*Larry Mann - Vocals (Tracks 5,7)
*Nick Stoner - Vocals (Tracks 1-3)

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Misty - Here Again (1969-70 uk, wonderful baroque beat psych light prog, 2022 digipak remaster and expanded)

In 1968, the band Misty came to be when organist Michael, who’d turned down a university place to pursue his musical dream, and bassist Steve Bingham both answered an ad to be part of a soul band. And while the resulting outfit didn’t end up going anywhere, Michael and Steve realised they were creative kindred spirits, even if as a classically trained player (Michael) and an R&B obsessive (Steve), they were very different.

“We realised we had an affinity, musically,” explains Michael, now aged 72. Misty was later completed by singer Tony Wootton, guitarist Freddie Green, and drummer John Timms.

There were high hopes for Misty. They were managed by Michael Grade, who would later become the controller of BBC1. After only a handful of gigs, the band was signed by the record label Parlophone and their first single, 1970’s Hot Cinnamon, arrived with a press release declaring: ‘Yesterday was The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Cream. Today is: Led Zeppelin, The Moody Blues, Deep Purple. Tomorrow will be MISTY!’

Sadly, despite those high hopes, that grand future for Misty wasn’t to be. Despite being well liked and receiving a lot of radio play, Hot Cinnamon failed to chart, resulting in the album they’d recorded being shelved. Furthermore, a tour with Roy Orbison, whose grown-up pop stylings couldn’t have been more at odds with Misty’s unusual progressive rock, didn’t earn them many new fans – and the band soon called it a day. “We went our separate ways, which was sad and disappointing because it was a great band,” recalls Michael.

Some 35 years later, Michael, then working for a hotel and leisure company, was asked by his girlfriend at the time about the band he’d once been in. “She asked me where the album was,” recalls Michael, “and I said I had no idea, because I didn’t. To be honest, the band hadn’t crossed my mind until she brought it up. But somehow, she managed to find the acetate [test pressing] of the album. I was surprised that it worked and my son, who works in production, advised me to take it somewhere to be digitally enhanced.”

So, Michael did, and when he went to collect the recording three days later, the engineer told him that the boss there would like to see him as he was sure he’d heard that music before. When the boss eventually appeared, he asked some questions about the identity of the band, including its name and when they had originally recorded.

As it turned out, the boss, George ‘Porky’ Peckham, had been in a band called The Fourmost, peers of The Beatles and had been on the same Roy Orbison tour bill as Misty. “The fact he’d remembered our music 35 years later was astounding and was a sign it had an enduring quality,” smiles Michael.

Several years later, Michael went to a gig at the 100 Club, the legendary London venue. He happened to be wearing a t-shirt that had been made for him by his friend and featured a promotional picture of Misty taken back in the late 1960s. The t-shirt caught the attention of a man at the gig, who asked whether it was a picture of Misty.

“It turns out the guy had a copy of our single,” laughs Michael now. “He asked me many questions about what we did, including some television appearances. He asked where he could watch them, and I told him that I’d looked for them but had been told they weren’t available anymore. A few days later, this man, who was a Metropolitan Police Detective as well as a TV archivist, rang me to tell me he’d found one of our television appearances in the archives of the British Film Institute and arranged a screening for me.”

Despite being recorded some 52 years ago, the quality of the footage was remarkable and allowed Michael to reconnect with his younger self and music. “It was so vivid,” explains Michael. “It was like unearthing a time capsule and rediscovering an interesting part of my life.” Michael would have another chance to do so when an editor friend shared an article entitled ‘1969: The Year That Rocked’ about the sights and sounds of one of music’s most colourful periods.

“Misty recorded our album in a famous studio called Regent Sound Studio based in [London’s] Denmark Street, which was mentioned in the article,” says Michael. “So, I emailed my editor friend to tell him. He was on the phone within five minutes asking me about Misty’s album. Half an hour later, he called again to tell me many of the tracks were on Spotify!”

Now, however, Misty’s debut album ‘Here Again’ has been released properly. This hasn’t only resulted in the band’s fascinating and complex music finally being heard as it was meant to, but a reconnection between the men who made it after several decades apart. “I hadn’t spoken to Steve for 40 years,” Michael says of his one-time creative partner. “To be in touch again has been wonderful. When he walked into my flat again four decades on, it was like we’d never been apart.”

So, what effect does Michael hope Misty’s music will have on new listeners? “10 years ago, this was ancient history. I just hope that people find the music memorable and unique and appreciate our musicianship because it’s intricate stuff.”

Sadly, while the death of Misty’s drummer John Timms in 2012 has ruled out the chances of the band reuniting on stage again, Michael is still playing music for special occasions. “I only play for weddings and funerals,” he says, “and I definitely play at more funerals these days.”

1. Witness For The Resurrection - 4:09
2. Here Again - 2:34
3. A Question Of Trust - 4:00
4. Julie - 2:25
5. I Can See The Stars - 4:25
6. Harmonious Blacksmith - 2:40
7. Hot Cinnamon - 2:47
8. Cascades - 2:27
9. Animal Farm - 3:01
10.I Will Be There - 2:32
11.Lazy Guy - 2:35
12.John's Song - 3:42
13.Final Thoughts - 3:17
14.Witness For The Resurrection - 3:57
15.Cascades - 2:34
16.Hot Cinnamon - 3:17
17.John's Song - 3:51
All songs by Steve Bingham, Michael Gelardi except tracks 1,2,14 written by Tony Wootton

*Freddie Green - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*John Timms - Drums
*Michael Gelardi - Keyboards, Vocals
*Steve Bingham - Bass, 12 String Guitar, Vocals
*Tony Wootton - Lead Vocals, 12 String Guitar

Saturday, April 20, 2024

rep> Various Artists - The Chosen Few 1-2 (1964-67 us, superb rare garage punkadelic)

Rare collection of artists  from the mid-60's and most of them have been lost in the whirl of time, but they managed to record few little pearls.  The collection is based on 45' vinyls, and from some labels who were involved in the revival of the Garage/Punkadelic sound, of the years to follow.

This release carries the sound waves and the rhythm of their time, and the booklet that accompanies gives detailed information for each song and band. We may now be surprised about the sound quality of entries but they largely manages to give us generously the position of a decade that we still love.

This was one of my first uploads (the flac rip was recently done) so the scans are only at 300dpi. If there's any request about albums or artists please feel free to ask for.
Thank you all for your support and your comments.

Musician - Title - Composer
1. Gonn - The Blackout of Gretely (Craig Moore, Rex Garrett) - 4:26
2. Tides In - Trip with Me (Fred Kamine, Patrick Durso, Ricky Rogerson) - 2:39
3. Debonaires - Never Mistake (Gene Szymusiak, John Carey) - 2:25
4. Shames - The Special Ones (Denis Trudel) - 2:22
5. Moods - I Give You an Inch (And You Take A Mile) (Larry D. Smith, Terry Smith) - 2:39
6. M.G. And The Escorts - A Someday Fool (Glenn Grecco) - 2:30
7. Chob - We're Pretty Quick (Keith Bradshaw, Quentin Miller) - 2:21
8. Nomads - Thoughts of a Madman (Bruce Evans, Larry Deatherage) - 2:59
9. Things To Come - Sweet Gina (Steve Runolfsson) - 2:47
10.Things To Come - Speak of the Devil (Steve Runolfsson) - 2:18
11.Mystic Five - Are You for Real Girl (Dave Carney, Jackson Brower, Joe Chytil) - 2:42
12.Sleepers - I Want A Love (Tom Zinser, Chris Davis) - 2:26
13.Gents - If You Don't Come Back (Winston Cabral) - 2:06
14.Thee Wylde Main-iacs - Why Ain't Love Fair (Freddie Wylde) - 2:31
15.Ty Wagner with the Scotchmen - I'm A Nocount (Ty Wagner) - 2:28
16.Romancers - She Took My Oldsmobil (Max Uballez) - 2:48
17.Sir Michael and the Sounds - Can You (Mike Elworth) - 2:07
18.Syndicate - The Egyptian Thing (Jim Kobzeff) - 2:12
19.Quadrangle - She's Too Familiar Now (Michael Konstan, Jay Fishman) - 2:31
20.Joys of Life - Descent (Danny McMullin, Jim Albrecht) - 2:07
21.Primates - Knock on My Door (John Demetrious) - 2:22
22.Brain Train - Me (Bud Mathis, Doug Lubahn) - 2:23
23.Twelfth Night - Grim Reaper (Don Hall) - 1:56
24.Terry Knight and the Pack - How Much More (Terry Knight) - 2:29
25.Mussies - Louie Go Home (Paul Revere, Mark Lindsay) - 2:18
26.Legends - I'll Come Again (Ray Vasquez, Scott Hamberg) - 2:04
27.Quests - Shadows in the Night (Bob Fritzen) - 2:33
28.Quests - I'm Tempted (Lyle Hotchkiss) - 1:37
29.Black Watch - Left Behind (John Grannis, Glenn Stout, Bill Shaw, Bob Rayce, Brad Bassett) - 2:31

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Bermuda Triangle - The Missing Tapes (1977 fascinating amalgam of country psych prog folk rock, 2007 release)

First known as the 60's indie Psych-Folk duo 'Roger And Wendy' and then the sunshine pop band 'Euphoria', Bermuda Triangle originally released this album on CD through their private label.

A great find. It is a superb collection of very rare treasures. Absolutely one of the best resurrections from a band who was pivotal in the US underground Psych-Folk scene of the late 60's into the 70's

All the recordings range from the late 60's to the late 70's.  'The missing tapes' is their best, till today, offering. Just take a listen to 'Did you love me' and 'Lost worlds' songs. Original, unique and bizzare sound not unlike their first album. 

Most of the songs are penned by Roger Penney while there are few covers on: Dennis DeYoung's 'Come sail away', Joni Mitchell's 'Circle game', Richard Farina's 'Swallow song', Fred Neil's 'Dolphin' and an exceptional 'High flying bird'.

1. Rainy Monday - 4:09
2. Come Sail Away (Dennis DeYoung) - 5:06
3. Night Train - 5:34
4. Lost Worlds - 3:48
5. My Brother (Wendy Penney) - 4:37
6. You'll Be A Star - 4:16
7. Circle Game (Joni Mitchell) - 4:56
8. Sometimes We Find It - 4:04
9. Did You Love Me - 3:58
10.Goin' Down To New Orleans - 3:09
11.High Flying Bird (Billy Edd Wheeler) - 3:20
12.Swallow Song (Richard Farina) - 2:01
13.Dolphin (Fred Neil) - 3:40
Songs written by Roger Penney except where indicated

*Wendy Penney - Vocals, Bass
*Roger Penney - Vocals, Electric Autoharp, Organ, Piano, Arp

Monday, April 8, 2024

Arthur Brown - The Story Of Arthur Brown (1965-2003 uk, classic freak psych space rock, 2003 double disc remaster)

Arthur Brown is synonymous with his 1968 hit "Fire", and the Hammond-driven "Crazy World" line-up which spawned it. However, his 'God of Hellfire' burned out fast and, in 1970, he returned with a new project: prog-festival freak-show Kingdom Come. They made three astonishing albums for Polydor, then fell apart without achieving any commercial breakthrough.

Those initial four band albums, by 'The Crazy World of Arthur Brown' and by 'Kingdom Come', are thrilling, as tend to be Brown's cameos on other peoples' projects. Obviously a great collaborator, his solo work has often been impressively poor. Without a persona, a theme, or other characters to play against in the creative process he seems to lose conviction.

To the credit of this collection, it's a goldmine of immaculately mastered rarities. Inevitably, some of these tracks prove to have deserved their obscurity. There are half a dozen pre-fame recordings which posterity could thrive without. Ditto the majority of solo tracks. But, to be fair, this set claims to be The Story Of not a Best Of. A collection of Arthur Brown's best work would discretely set aside year upon year of aimlessness and stick to the period when he found his muse.

The heart of this offering is the selection of guest vocals, oddities, and tracks from currently-deleted Kingdom Come albums. There is ''The Lord Doesn't Want You'' salvaged from an aborted 1969 Crazy World follow up, offering stunning declamatory funkadelia. There are eight  faultless Kingdom Come tracks, including rare single ''Eternal Messenger''. Then there is nutter-vs-God-of-Hellfire action from Rob Calvert's "The Gremlin", heading a clutch of collaborative gems. Sadly the provenance of some tracks is left vague by the album notes.This is currently your only option if you have Crazy World Of... and are longing to hear what came after. 
by Rob Fawcett, 2003

Disc 1
1. Prelude: Nightmare (Arthur Brown) - 3:53
2. You Don't Know (Walter Spriggs) - 3:33
3. Don't Tell Me (Jean-Pierre Bourtayre, Jean Bouchéty) - 2:30
4. Baby You Know What You're Doing (Jean-Pierre Bourtayre, Jean Bouchéty) - 1:55
5. The Green Ball (Arthur Brown) - 3:22
6. Devil's Grip (Arthur Brown) - 3:21
7. Give Him A Flower (Arthur Brown, Vincent Crane) - 3:02
8. Rest Cure (Arthur Brown, Vincent Crane) - 2:47
9. Fanfare: Fire Poem (Arthur Brown, Vincent Crane) - 2:02
10.Fire! (Arthur Brown, Vincent Crane, Mike Finesilver, Peter Ker) - 2:54
11.I Put A Spell On You (Screamin' Jay Hawkins) - 3:43
12.Child Of My Kingdom (Arthur Brown, Vincent Crane) - 7:01
13.The Lord Doesn't Want You (Arthur Brown, George Khan, Jonah Mitchell, Android Funnel, Dennis Taylor, Drachen Theaker) - 3:01
14.Eternal Messenger (Arthur Brown, Mike Finesilver, Peter Ker) - 3:49
15.Night Of The Pigs (Arthur Brown, Andy Dalby, Michael Harris, Julian Paul Brown) - 1:05
16.Sunrise (Arthur Brown, Andy Dalby, Julian Paul Brown) - 6:50
17.Creep-Creation (Arthur Brown, Andy Dalby, Michael Harris) - 4:06
18.Love Is (The Spirit That Will Never Die) (Arthur Brown) - 4:20
19.Time Captives (Arthur Brown) - 7:46
20.Spirit Of Joy (Arthur Brown, Michael Harris) - 3:15

Disc 2
1. Gypsy (Arthur Brown, Dennis Taylor) - 9:11
2. The Lord Will Find You (Lee  Robinson) - 4:15
3. Eyesight To The Blind (Sonny Boy Williamson) - 5:54
4. The Gremlin (The Song Of) (Adrian Wagner, Arthur Brown, Robert Calvert) - 3:23
5. Universal Zoo (Danny Beckerman, Wil Malone) - 2:44
6. The Lord Is My Savour (Arthur Brown) - 3:40
7. Tight Rope (Arthur Brown, Mike Finesilver) - 3:55
8. Speaknotech (Arthur Brown) - 5:15
9. The Fire-Ant Said To The Cockroach (Arthur Brown) - 5:30
10.Lord Of The Dance (Traditional) - 3:11
11.Hound Dog (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) - 2:16
12.Let A Little Sunshine (Into Your Life) (Arthur Brown) - 4:11
13.Heartaches (Arthur Brown, Malcolm Mortimore, Rick Patten, Stan Adler) - 5:13
14.A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (Bob Dylan) - 5:30
15.Silver Machine (Robert Calvert, Dave Brock) - 5:16
16.Fire (Die Krupps Remix) (Arthur Brown, Vincent Crane, Mike Finesilver, Peter Ker) - 3:14

The Arthur Brown Set
*Arthur Brown - Vocals
*Martin Kenny - Lead Guitar
*Robin Short - Keyboards
*Barry Dean - Bass

Crazy World
*Arthur Brown - Vocals
*Vincent Crane - Keyboards
*Sean Nicholas - Bass Guitar (later known as Nicholas Greenwood)
*Drachen Theaker - Drums

Kingdom Come
*Arthur Brown - Vocals
*Andy Dalby - Lead Guitar
*Martin Steer - Drums
*Desmond Fisher - Bass
*Julian Paul Brown - Backing Vocals
*Michael Harris - Organ
*Phil Shutt - Bass
*Victor Peraino - Keyboards

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Thursday, April 4, 2024

Randy Holland - Cat Mind (1972 us, charming mellow folk country rock, 2014 korean remaster)

There are many different kinds of records. Some latch onto you almost immediately and either stand the test of time or else slip away as easily as they came. Randy Holland’s 1972 album Cat Mind is the other kind; those unusual and sometimes uneven records that take more than one listen to fully appreciate. Released on the independent Mother Records label, it can probably be said that Cat Mind never had a chance at real commercial success. But hell, we’re not interested in the commercial success here “ we’re after good records, wherever they ended up and in whatever condition. And Cat Mind is a good record.

Looking at that stark, black and white cover shot you’re probably expecting a good deal of grit here, and the opening cut doesn’t disappoint in that department. The off-kilter flower child stomp of Bless the Naked Days also wastes no time introducing the listener to Holland’s rough and nasally voice; a voice which he tends to push to the limits, and often far beyond. Depending on where you’re coming from, I reckon this could either be an acquired taste or a real attraction.

Following this first number, Colors of Sad is bizarrely saccharine, and it’s this vivid contrast between wildness and melancholy which perhaps defines this record more than anything else. Holland tilts mercilessly between incisive, jagged rock and roll numbers and melodramatic country cuts, with very little sense of transition or artistic compromise. His uncredited backup band really shines, especially on the former, where they lay down some of the most righteous country-stained rock this side of Wray’s Shack Three Track. The hot swamp growl of Muddy Water is a real highlight, as is the weird title track, graced with scorching Davie Allan-style guitar work and an insistent rhythm section. Holland’s forays into the tamer side of Americana are more hit-and-miss, giving us both the warm and gentle Ladybug and an unfortunately overwrought reading of Mickey Newbury’s Remember the Good.

Fortunately, however, even the most underwhelming cuts are outweighed by the grittier numbers, and the overall quality and unique character of Cat Mind really does warrant it the kind of reissue treatment afforded so many other lost jewels of the period, such as Vernon Wray’s Wasted. As it stands, it isn’t all that hard to track down a used copy for a decent price. And what ever happened to Randy Holland? From what it looks like, he retired his attempts at making it in the music scene not long after cutting this record and moved to Las Vegas, where he opened an art gallery and devoted the rest of his days to painting and poetry. He passed away a few years ago, truly making this his one and only album.
by Nik Rayne, June 29th, 2011

Randy Holland passed away Jan. 7, 2011.

1. Bless The Naked Days - 3:07
2. Colours Of Sad - 4:54
3. Song For A Rainy Tuesday (Lew Alpaugh) - 3:05
4. Make Me Flowers (Randy Holland, Barbara Bishop) - 2:46
5. Muddy Water (F. Wright) - 3:18
6. I'll Remember The Good (Mickey Newburry) - 3:03
7. Cat Mind - 2:59
8. Indian Blues - 3:22
9. Ladybug (Lew Alpaugh) - 2:37
10.Take My Hand - 3:42
Songs by Randy Holland except where stated

*Randy Holland - Vocals, Guitar

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

rep> 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. 

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
All songs by Frank Hardwick and The Bow Street Runners

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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