Friday, January 11, 2013

Saint Steven - Over The Hills / The Bastich (1966/69 us, spectacular bosstown acid folky psych)

This is one of the long, lost psych gems that I thought would never ever be reissued! Saint Steven was Steven Cataldo, onetime member of Ultimate Spinach, one of the greatest of all-time psych bands, from Boston. This was one of those records that came out of nowhere, was played on FM radio a bit and then disappeared without a trace. It was ABC/Probe Records, the same label as Soft Machine's first album. 

I've tried in vain to find out more about this gem, but have never seen anything about it anywhere until now, nearly forty years after it was released in 1969. Finally, here it is again with two bonus tracks and a lovely booklet explaining some of the mystery. Each side of the album was a suite, "Over the Hills" on side one and "The Bastich" on side two. 

The cover features "Saint Steven" hugging his guitar floating up in the clouds as the sun radiates around him with a drawing of a sea monster slithering down at the edge of the ocean. No musicians were listed inside, just the producer, engineer and cover design folks. The lyrics were included and are quite poetic with the feeling of dread buried beneath some of the warmer imagery. 1969 was the year when it felt like the positive forces of the sixties were coming to an end. 

The war in Vietnam and protests worldwide made things feels as if the world would end too soon. Each of these songs balances the innocent with the darker forces that we all must confront. Saint Steven uses his own mythical figures, "Gladacadova" and "Ay-Aye-Poe-Day", to add magic and mystery to his little tales. In the middle of "Poor Small", the song stops and we get an excerpt from one of the Presidential elections in which some old woman is reading the tally of states and hitting a gavel. 

The song continues and so does the tally in the background, it still reminds me of sad realities of life that we try to escape from with music. Although the original album was rather short (about 29 minutes), it still worked as one entire piece, amazing from the beginning to the end. I can't compare it to any other bands, because it doesn't really sound like anyone else, although I do hear a bit of Spirit in some of those hypnotic sustained guitar parts."
by Bruce Lee Gallanter 
1. Over The Hills - 0:43
2. Animal Hall - 2:50
3. Gladacadova - 2:11
4. Over The Hills - 0:18
5. Poor Small - 2:41
6. Ay-Aye Poe Day - 3:22
7. Grey Skies - 2:51
8. Over The Hills - 1:28
9. Bastich I - 3:07
10.Voyage To Cleveland - 2:51
11.Sun In The Flame - 2:26
12.Bright Lights - 2:02
13.Louisiana Home - 2:51
14.Bastich II - 1:06
15.My Sunday Love (Bonustrack) - 2:57
16.Where Has The Time Gone To (Bonustrack) - 2:38 
All songs by Steven Cataldo

Steven Cataldo - Guitar, Vocals
Stephen Pinney - Drums (On Bonustracks)
Ian Bruce Douglas - 12string Guitar (On Bonustracks)
Barbara Vanderloop - Backing Vocals(On Bonustracks)
Kerry Frangione - Backing Vocals(On Bonustracks)