Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Afterglow - Afterglow (1968 us, splendid trippy garage psych, Sundazed issue)

 It’s not often that someone gets to live a dream, have it fade away, then live it again four decades later. But that’s what happened for the members of Northern California’s Afterglow. Back in the summer of 1967, they went to San Francisco (in The Summer Of Love no less) and recorded an album that was released on a national label. Then, almost 40 years after they’d given up hope that the record would have any impact on the world, they came to realise that… well… it actually had.

Larry Alexander – the band’s drummer and the member who first came to the revelation that at least some people did know and value their music – tells the story of how Afterglow got together and how the self-titled record was made: “I was a senior in high school. Tony Tecumseh [songwriter and lead guitarist, who was about five years older than the rest of us, had started playing with a bass player and that guy’s wife, in a county in Oregon just across the state border.

They were looking for a drummer and somebody told them about me, so I went up and auditioned for them. Then we decided we needed a singer and rhythm guitar player, so we found Gene Resler, who was singing in a church choir. The couple that had started the band with Tony eventually quit, so we found Ron George [bass] and Roger Swanson [keyboards], who were at that time playing in another band. “We all went to junior college together, then we all went on to Chico State University. All during that time we remained friends, and were playing music together. Some friends we knew who had a band had been down to San Francisco and made a demo at Golden State Recorders, so they told the people there about us.

We sent them a demo tape and they invited us to come down and audition for them. They told us to go back home and come up with 20 original tunes and come back when we were ready. So we did that and we went down and did the recordings. “Leo De Gar Kulka was the owner/producer/engineer of Golden State Recorders. He would sign bands up and have them record at his studio, and then he would try and sell the masters to the major labels. This was the first time any of us had ever been in San Francisco. We were just some country bumpkins who didn’t have a manager or anything, and we’d never been in a professional recording studio before.

We were serious about everything though. Serious about the music and about our friendships. This was an emotional experience for us, making those recordings.” The album, originally released in ’68 on MTA Records, is an endearingly innocent and often tuneful collection of songs fuelled by sweet harmonies and a fresh, breezy feel. Some cheesy Farfisa and the occasional odd time signature give it a subtle garage/experimental feel, and the eerie ‘Susie’s Gone’ is a spacey freakout that could be The Fifty-Foot Hose or The United States Of America.

But for the most part, a gentle touch and hummable melody is what drives the record – it sounds like Preflyteera Byrds meets ‘Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow’ Strawberry Alarm Clock. ‘Riding Home Again’, which enjoyed heavy local airplay around the band’s home turf, is an irresistible, happy-making jewel that really should have been included on the Nuggets box.
by Brian Greene
1. Morning - 2:05
2. Dream Away - 2:33
3. Susie's Gone (B. Boots) - 2:29
4. Mend This Heart of Mine (Gene Resler) - 2:37
5. Afternoon - 1:59
6. Chasing Rainbows - 1:49
7. By My Side - 1:54
8. It's a Wonder - 2:28
9. Love - 3:02
10.Riding Home Again - 2:34
11.Meadowland of Love - 2:23
12.Susie's Gone (Mono) (B. Boots) - 2:32
13.Chasing Rainbows - 1:51
14.Afternoon - 1:48
15.Morning - 2:11
All songs by Tony Tecumseh except where noted

*Gene Resler - Vocals
*Roger Swanson - Keyboards
*Tony Tecumseh - Guitar
*Ron George - Bass
*Larry Alexander - Drums

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West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - Volume Two (1967 us, soaring psychedelia pure folk-rock, Sundazed edition)

The group seems to be reduced to a trio of Bob Markley and the Harris' brothers. Although not credited Ron Morgan played the distinctive Lead guitar. Again, either Hal Blaine or Jimmy Gordon played the drums.

Michael Lloyd has left to initiate other projects, and Bob Markley, the former tambourine player, was now firmly in command although he wasn't a musician himself.

The Mono versions of the above feature strikingly different mixes are essential. "In the Arena" opens with a mix of spoken word and cool guitar riffs. "Suppose They Give a War and No One Comes" seems contrived for the era, but at this point in time it plays as a freaky and enjoyable novelty. "Smell of Incense" settles down for a gorgeous folk-psych-pop track.

"Queen Nymphet" is mellow and harmonious enough to pass on the surface as a track by The Association, until one listens to the deliberately subversive lyrics. The album's a pleasure from end to end, as long as you're willing to immerse yourself in the weirdness of the psychedelic era. This edition of the album includes the mono single mixes and edits of "Smell of Incense" and "Unfree Child."
1. In The Arena - 4:10
2. Suppose They Give A War And No One Comes (Markley, Bryan) - 3:38
3. Buddha - 2:05
4. Smell Of Incense (Markley, Morgan) - 5:47
5. Overture / Wcpaeb Part II - 1:28
6. Queen Nymphet - 2:19
7. Unfree Child - 3:58
8. Carte Blanche - 2:42
9. Delicate Fawn - 2:30
10. Tracy Had A Hard Day Sunday - 4:35
All songs written by Bob Markley, Shaun Harris except where indicated

West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
*Bob Markley - Vocals, Composer, Producer
*Dan Harris - Guitar, Vocals
*Shaun Harris - Bass, Guitar, Vocals
*Ron Morgan - Guitar
*Hal Blaine - Drums

1965-67   Volume One
1967  Part One

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