Sunday, August 19, 2012

Born Again - Pagan (1969-71 us, significant heavy psych with west coast traces)

From the ashes of the band "Red Mountain" rose Born Again. Originally from Marin County in Northern California the band traveled to Los Angeles to try to find fortune and fame. Local producer Roger Dollarhide took the boys under his wing and recorded tracks with them in late '69 and early '70 at Sun West Studios in Hollywood. Led by the tasteful guitar playing of Larry Otis and the soulful vocals of Bryce Sullivan, Born Again was a very versatile band that created a hybrid style all their own.

Whether it's a country tinged ballad ala KAK ("She's Gone") or an eerie guitar psych instrumental ("Laura's Waltzing" from the 1970 Film Soundtrack from "The Velvet Vampire") these boys were one tight unit that delivered the goods.

Some people will say there is just so much good music from the '60s you can reissue, although the small community of collectors just doesn't seem to care. And then, there are those gems that were recorded but never released at the time. 
by Adamus67

These are the most cutthroat projects for a record label: no previous market, no "rarity" cult status, nothing but the sole strength of the music to carry the album. Well, in this case Shadoks can say "mission accomplished." It's hard to say what would have happened of Born Again, had Pagan been released in 1971. 

What is easy to state, though, is that singer Brice Sullivan and guitarist Larry Otis made quite an efficient songwriting team. Their brand of blues-rock shows the influence of West Coast psychedelic rock (Iron Butterfly, specifically), but also the rootsier leanings of Savoy Brown. Otis was not a guitar hero, but he had a good sound, strong chops, and a twist in his playing that would have made him recognizable after two or three LPs. That said, the band's strongest asset was Sullivan's strong voice, a soaring blues tenor with a lot of soul. The album proper (the 11 tracks recorded in Los Angeles in 1969-1971 that were first released as an LP by Rockadelic in 2001) deserves to be heard, if only for "Sand Castle," "Radio X," and "Boiling Point," all very good songs. 

The 2005 Shadoks reissue on CD adds seven bonus tracks that are less interesting, although the three home demos from 1972 show that the Otis/Sullivan partnership would have had more to offer, given the chance. 
by Francois Couture

1. Barnyard Blues - 4:22
2. Radio X (Brice Sullivan) - 4:39
3. No Good Reason - 4:00
4. Boiling Point (Brice Sullivan) - 3:11
5. Three Pipers (Dollarhide) - 1:59
6. Laurie Waltzing (Larry Otis) - 2:30
7. Sand Castle - 3:52
8. Good Blues - 2:30
9. She's Gone (Brice Sullivan) - 4:46
10. Comin' Back Strong (Brice Sullivan) - 5:20
11. Lie Me Down (Brice Sullivan) - 4:21
12. Velvet Vampire Radio Spot 1971 - 0:58
13. Laurie Waltzing (Larry Otis) - 3:08
14. Sand Castle (Alt. Mix)   - 4:07
15. Om Namah Shivaya (Larry Otis) - 6:09
16. Milk & Honey - 3:41
17. In That Day - 3:20
18. You Let Yourself In - 4:32
All songs by Larry Otis and Brice Sullivan except where noted.
Bonus tracks from 12-18.

Born Again
*Brice Sullivan - Vocals, Harmonica, Keyboards
*Larry Otis - Guitar
*Steve Avery - Guitar
*Stuart Ramsay - Bass
*Rod Moxie - Bass Guitar
*Lloyd Wick - Drums

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Day Blindness - Day Blindness (1969 us, terrific heavy acid psych)

Day Blindness came together in 1968 from a pair of competing bands at Jefferson High School in California's San Mateo county. One of the bands was a trio led by guitarist Gary Pihl -- from nearby Santa Clara High -- and included Felix Bria on keyboards and Dave Neuman on drums. This unit ran across one of its rivals, the Dimensions, at a county battle-of-the-bands competition at which both were short-listed. the Dimensions were made up of the Tabucci brothers, Mark and Charles, on saxophones; lead guitarist Ken Starr (younger brother of a Ventures member); Roy Garcia behind the drums; John Vernaza on rhythm guitar; and bass player Ramos Ramirez. So impressed were Pihl and Bria by Garcia's drumming abilities upon seeing the band play that they soon asked him to replace Neuman. The resulting trio officially became Day Blindness in the summer of 1968.

Over the next year, Day Blindness played gigs at many of the most notable venues throughout the Bay Area, even landing an opening slot for Sly & the Family Stone, both locally and on tour. By 1969, Mark Tabucci, who had also become a behind-the-scenes supporter of the band during the Dimensions swap, began to construct a small studio at 10 Claude Lane, funded by local backers and sponsors, in anticipation of the recording of an album. Once Studio 10 was ready, Day Blindness, with new skinsman Dave Mitchell in Garcia's old spot, set about working on that debut record. During the sessions, both Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin stopped by to submit a variety tips, including song titles and artwork. Soon thereafter, Day Blindness was released, though to little fanfare.

The band started to come apart almost immediately after the album's release. Producer and engineer Tom Press used some of his proceeds from the album to buy a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and disappear into the '70s. Tabucci became an automobile repairman for the Jefferson Airplane. Drummer Mitchell went on to produce and engineer for other acts, including Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Pihl later turned up in platinum-selling rock band Boston, then went on to play with Sammy Hagar in the 1990s. Day Blindness, not a big seller upon its release, took on a life of its own in collector's circles.
by Stanton Swihart

1. Still Life Girl - 6:23
2. Jazz Song - 2:20
3. Middle Class Lament - 3:39
4. I Got No Money - 4:31
5. House and a Dog - 2:01
6. Live Deep - 2:48
7. Young Girl Blues - 4:22
8. Holy Land - 12:22

Day Blindness
*Felix Brian - Bass, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
*David Mitchell - Drums, Vocals
*Gary Pihl - Guitar, Vocals

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