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'.


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