Produced by Richard Podolor
This sole album by this obscure outfit jumps from the gate with a heavy hard-rock version of “Tobacco Road,” focusing on power and loud guitars, a bit more earthy and bluesy but coming from the sounds we’d heard with bands such as Blue Cheer, Grand Funk, and MC5. The second cut turns Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally” into a chugging blues rocker with a CCR influence showing, and on the third number, the Steppenwolf comparisons come across clear as a howl.
The fourth cut reveals that this set is going to have something else in common with Steppenwolf albums, inconsistency, with this song slowing down and following the era’s trend to move to the country.
While the side is moderately enjoyable throughout, sometimes showing a raunchy side that foreshadows Black Oak Arkansas, each song seems to get less powerful than the previous. The cut that closes the side, a cover of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” gave them a chance to remedy the decline, but the restrained quality that runs through the song is disappointing, especially after the beginning of the side showed what could have been with the end.
The flip side starts off sounding as if it might pull out the slack, but again starts to drag a bit, the songs helping to reveal a variety of likely influences: Mountain, The Grateful Dead, the Band, Terry Reid, and the Stones. Fortunately, the set ends strong as it began with the double-barrel blasts of two originals: the harmonica-blowing Bo Diddley-ish “Ramblin’ Man” and the tempestuous burning acid of “Valley Thunder.” Cuts such as these make this set a near classic.
LINK TO SELLERS:
Hans Olson Western Winds
Joplin Records 3266
While the blues is the foundation of most everything you’ll find me bragging about, the blues at its base really ain’t my bag. If it ain’t authentic, then what’s the point, and if it is authentic, it usually sounds outdated. Of course, plenty of exceptions exist.
But those exceptions usually come from black musicians playing the blues fast, and this cat focuses on the slow to mid tempo. And typically there’s nothing worse than white folks trying to create authentic black blues. It’s like some educated fools digging up the bones of the aborigines, putting them in a museum, collecting the entrance fees and acting self-righteous.
But there’s something honest about the backroom basement sound on this album. You almost have to dig it. It sounds like somewhere between Captain Beefheart and Bob Seger, Van Morrison and Rory Gallagher, the Allman Brothers and Tony Joe White, and comes straight from the black blues, somewhere between John Lee Hooker and Sonny Terry/Brownie McGhee, and the blues appear to run straight through this artist’s heart. He focuses on the slow and midtempo but seems to know when turn up the voltage.
Marc Benno Minnows
Produced by David Anderle
engineered by Bruce Botnick
Likely the best offering from this Texas musician, likely for several reasons, including the people who helped create this set of low key bluesy material, including four great guitarists: Clarence White, Jesse Ed Davis, Bobby Womack, and Jerry McGee.
Of course, Benno himself deserves credit for the quality of this set, as he writes all of the songs, sings and plays several instruments–guitar, piano, organ, and marxophone. Perhaps mostly importantly, Benno (fresh from playing on the Doors’ L.A. Woman album) exhibits a frailty that only shows up this album.
While Ambush, the follow up to this album, was likely his most successful commercially speaking, this is the one that comes closest to a timeless classic.
Objects in Mirrors Are Closer Than They Appear
Red Music 001
Produced by Jeff Cain and Charles Cohen
Early release from Charles Cohen, likely with his favorite instrument the Buchla Music Easel synthesizer, here working with Jeff Cain, the pair calling themselves Ghostwriters.
Dueling synthesizers, moving between playful and menacing, odd ambience and funky rhythms, worldly and other worldly, full of intentions but likely improvisations, sounding as if they were clearly influenced by Eno, Devo, and the Residents, maybe raised on Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder, avant garde artists from the worlds of jazz and electronic and the robotic pop music of the previous decade.
For a set created by synthesizers, this offers plenty of variety, opening with a mutated version of Peter Gunn (which while the song doesn’t credit Mancini, perhaps serves as a nod to Hank), side two adding vocals to the instrumentations, these elements helping reveal the blend of electro-pop and avant garde, showing perhaps a Tubeway Army influence. This leads to a jagged version of funk which gives way to music influenced by exotica and ambience, and perhaps even Brian Wilson. The liner notes mention that this was recorded in the childhood home of Don Buchla, sounding as if they mean this literally, but perhaps they mean this metaphorically, maybe both.
Worthwhile listen for fans of Cohen or the robotic music from the 1980s.