Saturday, April 8, 2023

The Sons Of Adam - Saturday's Sons The Complete Recordings (1964​-​66 us, jagged garage psych, feat Randy Holden from Blue Cheer fame, 2022 release)

Remembered as one of the most talented West Coast garage rock bands of the 1960s The Sons Of Adam began life as a surf rock group, with three of four original members actually being East Coast transplants.

Lead guitarist/vocalist Randy Holden and rhythm guitarist/lead vocalist Jac Ttanna were born in Pennsylvania, although like bass guitarist/vocalist Michael Port they called Baltimore home, the latter actually a native of the city. With the addition of drummer Bruce Miller, quickly replaced by Keith Kestler, The Fender IV were born, releasing four single sides on the Imperial label before another change in drummers, with Michael Stuart-Ware taking over, and a move toward garage rock resulted in The Sons Of Adam, so named by colorful and shadowy cult figure Kim Fowley, who issued two singles on Decca. Following more personnel changes, with Holden being replaced by Craig Tarwater and Stuart-Ware by Randy Carlisle, a final 45 appeared on the Alamo label before the band dissolved in June 1967.

Long unavailable in any format, High Moon Records has compiled the six The Sons Of Adam singles sides along with three studio outtakes, supplementing them with eight previously unreleased live recordings from the band’s August 6, 1966 performance at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco along with both sides of the two The Fender IV 45s and three additional studio recordings by the surf rockers, a total of twenty four tracks, more than sixty eight minutes of music recorded between 1964 and 1966, in deluxe CD and double LP editions. The result is one of the most highly anticipated reissues of 2022.

‘Saturday’s Son’ opens with thirty minutes from The Son of Adam’s sizzling Avalon Ballroom performance beginning with their six minute take on the Bert Berns, Jerry Wexler and Solomon Burke classic ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love’ a melodic number with Holden delivering stinging, stabbing bursts of lead guitar and a fiery solo. The Ttanna/Holden original ‘Mr. Sun’ features power chording by Holden, with Ttanna belting out the vocals. Another Ttanna/Holden original ‘The Long Road’ finds Holden riffing with restraint, his guitar looming, hinting at heaviness. 

The group’s cover of Graham Gouldman’s ‘Evil Hearted You’ rivals that of the Yardbirds, Holden delivering a string bending solo and Ttanna’s vocals rivaling those of Keith Relf. Side one of the first LP closes with the rocking Ttanna/Holden penned ‘It Won’t Be Long’, Holden’s guitar open to full throttle, Port’s bass line and Stuart-Ware’s drum fills putting the pedal to the metal. Side two opens with the Lou Josie composition from which the set draws its title, and showcases Holden’s heavy lead line and an extended solo which plays the tune out. Ttanna/Holden’s ‘Go Away’ is three minutes of dead ahead rock, with an insistent riff and Holden’s guitar set to stun. The last live cut is an eight minute cover of Van Morrison’s ‘Gloria’ which the band gives the rave up treatment a la Yardbirds, Ttanna screaming vocals over Holden’s soaring solo, Stuart-Ware pounding out the beat with his racing drums and Port’s thundering bass deepening the groove. The tune closes with Holden controlling the feedback as he solos the outro, the sound building to a crescendo. 

The singles and outtakes section begins with the December 1965 a-side ‘Take My Hand’ a Ttanna/Holden original showcasing the band’s British invasion influenced melody with its relaxed guitar riffs and drum fills, Holden contributing a searing solo. The b-side, a cover of Steve Venet and Tommy Boyce’s ‘Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day’ closes side two with its harmonious vocals and lead guitar line, relaxed groove and driving guitar solo. Disc two opens with Ttanna/Holden’s ‘I Told You Once Before’ an outtake, with heavily echoed guitar and vocals along with a melodic bass line courtesy of Port. A cover of The Zombies’ Chris White’s ‘You Made Me Feel Good’, also an outtake, has a chiming guitar intro, smooth lead line, gorgeous vocal harmonies and a restrained guitar solo. 

Mike Port’s ‘Without Love’, yet another outtake, is a haunting love song with its delicate mid-tempo melody. Jeff Beck’s influence on Holden is apparent on the group’s cover, and single a-side, of Brian and Mike Hogg’s ‘You’re A Better Man Than I’ popularized by the Yardbirds. Holden’s heavy guitar intro is contrasted by Ttanna’s delicate vocals, with Port and Stuart-Ware supplying the song’s heavy rhythm. Holden’s quivering lead line gives way to a solo filled with sustain that soars the tune to a close. The b-side, a studio take on ‘Saturday’s Son’ is a hot rocker, its lead line and thundering bass line driving the tale of a cursed man, “the thirteenth child, Saturday’s son”, with Holden’s solo playing the song out. 

The first tune recorded by the band with new lead guitarist Craig Tarwater and drummer Randy Carlisle was a cover of Arthur Lee’s ‘Feathered Fish’ released as the a-side of The Son Of Adams’ final, late fall 1966 single. The tune had long been part of the band’s live repertoire and was in fact released by Holden with his next band The Other Half. Regardless, the The Sons Of Adam take is a fine piece of garage rock filled with a heavy guitar riff and fuzz bass, Tarwater offering a fiery solo and Ttanna delivering the trippy lyrics with swagger. The single’s b-side, and LP side closer, is the Mike Port penned ‘Baby Show The World’ with its rumbling bass intro and snarling lead guitar line. Tarwater’s relaxed solo floats over the top, with Carlisle’s drums crashing and Port’s bass throbbing, Tarwater’s outro filled with restrained feedback. This would sadly prove to be the final recording by The Sons Of Adam as personality conflicts caused an irreparable rift in their ranks, the end result being Randy Holden joining The Other Half with whom he would record the timeless single ‘Mr. Pharmacist’, later touring with and recording one side of original tunes on Blue Cheer’s ‘New! Improved!’, then recording the classic heavy psychedelic LP ‘Population II’ with ex-Kak drummer Chris Lockheed before taking an extended break from music. 

Michael Stuart-Ware was lured by Arthur Lee to join Love at their creative peak, playing drums on the ‘Da Capo’ and ‘Forever Changes’ albums, while Jac Ttanna would form Genesis (the American, not British group), with Mike Port as bassist before the lineup was finalized with future Steppenwolf (‘For Ladies Only’) guitarist Kent Henry, the group releasing two singles and the ‘In The Beginning’ album, with Ttanna as rhythm guitarist/vocalist and chief songwriter, penning such tunes as the epic 16 minute ‘World Without You’, although Port would by then have departed the music industry and returned to Baltimore where he managed a movie theater for many years before falling into homelessness and sadly dying on the city’s streets in 2014. 

Guitarist Craig Tarwater remained active musically but never again reached the heights of The Sons Of Adam and passed in early 2018, while drummers Bruce Miller, Keith Kestler and Randy Carlisle seem to have vanished from the music industry.. As for ‘Saturday’s Son’ the release ends where the West Coast recording legacy of the transplanted East Coast trio of Holden, Ttanna and Port began back in 1964 as the The Fender IV with the bottom side of the second LP containing seven tracks, six Holden originals and one co-written with Ttanna, all four single sides and three outtakes featuring drummer Kestler. Holden’s ‘Mar Gaya’ is a surf rock instrumental propelled by Holden’s lead line and Port’s throbbing bass, with Kestler adding a mid-tune drum break. The song was released as a single on Imperial in 1964 c/w Ttanna and Holden’s ‘You Better Tell Me Now’ which hinted at the Yardbirds influence on Holden guitar work and showcased the racing drums of Kestler along with the repeated forlorn Ttanna vocal refrain “you better tell me now what you’re gonna do”. 

The Holden penned a-side ‘Malibu Run’ is a reverb drenched surf rocker in the vein of Dick Dale with the guitarist’s lead line dominating from beginning to end. The 1965 Imperial single’s b-side ‘Everybody Up’ is a danceable piece of guitar driven surf rock with Ttanna encouraging listeners with the tunes only lyrics “everybody up” as the band plays at breakneck speed, Holden’s lead guitar joined by Port’s throbbing bass and Kestler’s pounding drums. The disc closes with three outtakes, all Holden compositions. ‘Lonely Surf Guitar’ opens with Kestler riding his cymbals before Holden takes over with a slower tempoed, heavily echoed, lead line sounding very much like Jimi Hendrix vintage 1967 and showing how unique and ahead of his time Holden truly was. ‘Highway Surfer’, another outtake, is an instrumental with its relentless riff and ringing solo by Holden as he races up and down the neck of his guitar. 

The disc, and set, closer is yet another surf instrumental ‘Little Ole’ with nice tempo changes and Holden illustrating perfect usage of his reverb as his lead line glides effortlessly through the tune coaxing incredible tones along the way. The tune is an absolutely delightful end to a most impressive collection of guitar based rock music.

‘Saturday’s Sons: The Complete Recordings 1964-1966’ was produced by Alec Palao, who also contributed the liner notes based on interviews conducted between 1997 and 2021 with surviving members Randy Holden and Jack Ttanna. The deluxe CD features sound transfers edited by Palao and an immaculate mastering job by Dan Hersch. This long overdue tribute to a band far ahead of its time and deserving of a much better fate than it received will be of interest to fans of hard rock, psychedelic rock, surf rock, 1960s rock and classic rock and is highly recommended.
by Kevin Rathert
1. Everybody Needs Somebody To Love (Bert Berns, Jerry Wexler, Solomon Burke) - 6:08
2. Mr Sun (Jac Ttanna, Randy Holden) - 2:36
3. The Long Road (Jac Ttanna, Randy Holden) - 2:52
4. Evil Hearted You (Graham Gouldman) - 2:28
5. It Won't Be Long (Jac Ttanna, Randy Holden) - 2:28
6. Saturday's Son (Lou Josie) - 2:36
7. Go Away (Jac Ttanna, Randy Holden) - 3:08
8. Gloria (Van Morrison) - 8:02
9. Take My Hand (Jac Ttanna, Randy Holden) - 2:22
10.Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day (Steve Venet, Tommy Boyce) - 2:17
11.I Told You Once Before (Jac Ttanna, Randy Holden) - 2:07
12.You Make Me Feel Good (Chris White) - 1:59
13.Without Love (Mike Port) - 2:40
14.You're A Better Man Than I (Brian Hugg, Mike Hugg) - 2:57
15.Saturday's Son (Lou Josie) - 2:13
16.Feathered Fish (Arthur Lee) - 2:32
17.Baby Show The World (Mike Port) - 2:32
18.Mar Gaya (Randy Holden) - 2:29
19.You Better Tell Me Now (Jac Ttanna, Randy Holden) - 2:11
20.Malibu Run (Randy Holden) - 2:27
21.Everybody Up (Randy Holden) - 1:55
22.Lonely Surf Guitar (Randy Holden) - 2:42
23.Highway Surfer (Randy Holden) - 2:28
24.Little Oly (Randy Holden) - 2:24
Tracks 1-8 recorded live at the Avalon Ballroom, August 6th, 1966.
Tracks 9-17 Singles and Outtakes
Tracks 18-24 as The Fender IV 

The Sons Of Adam
*Randy Holden - Guitar, Vocals (1965-1966)
*Joe Kooken (Aka Jac Ttanna) - Guitar (1965-1967)
*Mike Port - Bass (1965-1967)
*Michael Stuart - Drums (1965-1967)
*Craig Tarwater - Guitar, Vocals (1966-1967)
*Randy Carlisle - Drums (1967)

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