20 September 2012

Saint Steven - 1969 - Saint Steven

Quality: 3.75 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 3.99 out of 5

I think Steve Cataldo, frontman of Boston rockers Front Page Review, probably wandered into the wrong studio for this set.  It wasn't necessarily a bad studio, but the Saint sounds slightly uninspired, and the recordings don't seem to have quite the right 'bounce' for psychedelic pop-rock.  It's not a fidelity thing.  Can would just let a two-track reel-to-reel roll and they made some of the greatest albums ever.  And God knows what kind of Edison cylinder Gonn used for "Blackout of Gretely," but it sounds awesome.  The probably here is that the engineer had the equipment and proceeding to make like of bad choices.  I don't know, maybe it just had yet to grow on me.  The songs are generally groovy and there is a fun penchant for found sound and odd warping effects on this LP.  This admittedly backfires a bit when Steven commits almost two minutes of his 30-minute record to the roll call of the 1968 Republican convention.

So, back to this whole studio thing (who's obsessed today?).  "Animal Hall" is in theory a very groovy psych-folk tune with lot of screaming animal effects, but the recording practically vacuum-seals the whole affair, while acid rock scorcher, "Ay-Aye-Poe-Day," was apparently too loud for the studio.  "Sun In the Flame" is one of the better tunes here, but suffers a similar fate.  Otherwise, I'd dig it pretty well.  "Bastich I" starts off with a haunted psychedelic English countyside church vibe before rocking a little more quietly so that the track at least doesn't distort (compare this to the louder "Bastich II, when the track does distort).

Folks, choose your recording venue wisely.  I hate to come down so hard on the technical, but I"m guessing that the engineer was probably better equipped to record a gospel-singing family or something, and the "Saint" tag sort of threw him off.  This is a pretty groovy, if slightly hamfisted, mini concept album going on here.  Those of you with a more forgiving ear can hold on tight to the psych-rockin'.

Roger Rodier - 1972 - Upon Velveatur

Quality: 4 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 3.75 out of 5

Americans 'know' that Canada doesn't give us any good music- just comedians.  Neil Young had to come to the States to get the ball rolling, man.  Of course, thinking this way will cut you off from some pretty groovy music, and Roger Rodier is a case in point.  The file tag that came with this listed it as 'acid folk,' and I suppose it is to some extent, but this is the early 70's and Ro-Ro does have sort of a singer-songwriter thing going on.  Fortunately, it doesn't head out for a full-on bad-mustache/giant-wicker-chair cheese-o-rama.  Roger's got a 60's hangover that recalls the lighter moments of Sagittarius.

The first two tracks are gently-picked acid folk ditties that had me hoping that someone would slip a few amphetamines into Roger's milk (someone did slip a theremin into 'My Spirit's Calling, which is worth three cool points)  .  Not that they're bad tunes, but sequencing both of them right at the start of the album was probably a questionable call - they almost have the same guitar part.  I've noticed that this is a common sequencing trick in rock n' roll - someone notices that two song are similar so they stick them right together - sort of a "Ha! I meant to do that!"  I'm pretty sure I've done that when sequencing my own albums, so I suppose I can't really criticize.

The band did make it in for the album's best track, "Am I Supposed to Let It By Again (Above the Covers)."  No, I won't be typing that again.  Anyway, this sounds like a happy Neil Young and Crazy Horse trying to sound upset and angry.  It's not quite the same, but it dose have flanging effects on the drums.  "You Don't Know What It's Like" and "Just Fine" are probably outtakes from Gorky's Zygotic Minci's album, "How I Long to Feel That Summer In My Heart," which is interesting since that album was recorded almost thirty years after this set by Ro-Ro.  "Let's See Some Happiness" includes honky-tonk piano and a chorus and I don't like it all that much.

There are some bonus tracks that seem to be demos or something as the recording quality is somewhat hazier.  "Easy Song" comes across like an AM radio sunshine hit, "Tu Viendras" is a groovy rock n' roll induction ceremony theme, while "Overseer" is worth the listen for the strange, rolling rhythm.  Meanwhile, "Have You" must be queued up for inclusion in the next Wes Anderson flick.  (*Ook, waited until now to do my research - turns out these are 1969 single tracks.)

This is worth a listen for those of you wishing to waft through the tall grass of the late Canadian summer of 1972.  Roger pokes at the boundaries of 70's singer-songwriter territories, but rarely pokes through.  He's too groovy a cat for that, and has dreams of 1967 sunshine pop.