Brown Acid: The Twelfth Trip – Album Review

Various Artists – Brown Acid: The Twelfth Trip

RidingEasy Records

Release date: 20/04/2020

Running time: 33 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

Well, who’d have thought it?  Here’s the twelfth instalment of the Brown Acid series from RidingEasy Records, their ongoing exploration of rare, lost and forgotten treasures from the late 60s and early seventies.  These proto-metal, hard rock and heavy psych riches are continuing to turn up, thankfully curated and shared with a new, wider audience.  They still haven’t run out of steam, which is very good news.   

This time, the Professors of Rock (“Prockfessors”, anyone?  Nah, never mind) have released ten more crazily good tracks from the past.  As can be expected, the bands are deep fried and the guitars are fuzzier than a Macdonalds burger-flipper’s chin.

And so, we commence with “Mother Samwell” by The Waters: a blinding, acid-drenched rocker from 1969.  How can this have been lost for so long?  Up next is “Vibrations” by Village S.T.O.P.; featuring Hendrix style guitar in another pacey rocker.  Though very much of their time, these songs pack a ton of energy – you’re gonna want to freak out.  Right out.

“1930” was quite a year, claim White Lightning, with a funky, chunky marauder of a tune that’s like Grand Funk, on the rare occasions GF got it right.  Shane serves up some proper skronky organ with “Woman (Don’t You Go)”, reminiscent of a shrieky, early Purple.  Then the keyboards get even skronkier with Ace Song Service’s “Persuasion”, though the attack is harsher.

Opus Est really kick out the jams with “Bed”, which has a killer riff that would please Gibbons or Page.  The Mopptops have a terrible band name (maybe that’s why they disappeared), but their song “Our Lives” is one of the heavier, more vicious sounding tracks here.  It’s a punk rock bruiser that seems totally out of time – surely this can’t be 1968?

A bland band name, but Artist inject their song “Every Lady Does It” with enough hip-shaking Hendrix raunch to raise the roof.  Great chorus too; this is faultless.  Then it’s more great lo-fi garage ZZ Top with “Comin’ Home” by Stagefright, before we finish with Dickens (great name!) and their weird fuzz metal with minimal production, “Don’t Talk About My Music”.

Whether they’re discovering hidden gems in dusty tombs, or exhuming abandoned corpses and bringing them back to life – pick your metaphor: the RidingEasy Forensics Department have managed to surprise yet again.  Their quest seems never ending, but we can be thankful that these dedicated scholars continue to discover hitherto abandoned sonic delights.

It’s harder to pick out gems which shine brighter than the others this time around, but “Brown Acid: the Twelfth Trip” manages to reach a high standard across the board.  Very enjoyable, and recommended listening for when Jimi and Janis pop round for some mushroom tea.

Why not do some internets with RidingEasy records on their website, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Insta?

This review was proudly presented by Platinum Al in association with Ever Metal.

1968 – Album Review

1968 – Salvation, If You Need…

Self-released & No Profit Recordings

Release date: 20/04/2021

Running time: 44 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

9.5/10

For this review of “Salvation, If You Need…”, the second album from UK stoner rock titans 1968, I promise that there will be no messing about, no silly stories, no nonsense whatsoever.  I’m not even drinking.  Rather, I will endeavour to write a serious review that treats this album with the respect it deserves.  Not enough respect to get the article written on schedule, mind; but hey – I never said I was perfect.

Anyone familiar with 1968 from their previous efforts will not be disappointed to learn that the band’s strengths are in full flow here.  Thankfully, they’ve also pushed boundaries and explored their psychedelic tendencies further than ever before.  Witness opening track “Railroad Boogie”, which teases a funky Blaxploitation groove before unleashing the glorious big riff sound that we expect.

Comparing 1968 to Kyuss is far too obvious and lazy.  Jimi Ray’s voice has some of that gruff John Garcia sound (with a little later-period TSOL vocalist Joe Wood), though his vocals have matured to a sincere, soulful timbre.  See also, guitarist Sam Orr: schooled in Sabbath riffology and Lizzy attitude, here his Hendrix aspirations are allowed to fly unrestrained.  Magnificent washes of sound cascade and add colour everywhere, without being obtrusive.

“Blackwing” is the highlight for me: a refrain that’ll slip into your ears and lodge there.  It’s pointless trying to remove it.  Whether happy accident or hard slog, this is an epic riff.  “Eastern Wind” follows a similar path, but offers enough of its own controlled chaos to stand on its own two feet. 

Tom Richards’ bass warms up “Here It Lies” and expertly keeps the vibe dialled on a grungy, early Soundgarden pace.  The raw, unrefined blues of “Small Victories” and “God Bless” also allow drummer Dan Amati to show he can play refined and delicate, as well as thundering and determined.    

Yes, 1968 are undoubtedly still inspired by the classic rock of the late 60s/early 70’s, but we’re also drinking beers in Satan’s Dive Bar, somewhere in Seattle, with a jukebox that’s stuck on Badmotorfinger.  And some Budgie, too, based on the solid cover of that band’s “Guts” that shows up here.   

Look, I’ve tried to be serious for once, and I hope you appreciate it, reader.  “Salvation, If You Need…” is a truly magnificent piece of work.  I’ve been playing it for ages and it hasn’t aged.  I’m still discovering little delights everywhere.  It has scale and pace that other bands don’t dare trifle with.  A contender for Album of the Year, so long as I can get hold of the imminent vinyl release.

Now, who wants to hear about the time Ozzy, Belinda Carlisle and me gate-crashed Venom’s Satanic picnic?

I lied about not drinking, by the way.     

You can find 1968 on Bandcamp, and also follow their social media adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

This Platinum Al review has been produced with the aid of Ever Metal.       

Brown Acid: the Eleventh Trip – Album Review

Various Artists – Brown Acid: The Eleventh Trip

RidingEasy Records

Release date: 31/10/2020

Running time: 33 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8/10

One of the best things about the Brown Acid series is imagining the alternate reality where these songs, long forgotten in the mists of rock’n’roll legend, actually attained the success so many of them deserve.  A world where these long-lost bands are as equally revered as BOC, Grand Funk or the MC5.  The same world, probably, where Lemmy’s still alive, Trump never got near the White House and the last Star Wars film came out in 1983.

But maybe that’s just me.  What I do know, is that the Brown Acid series from RidingEasy Records offers up another batch of ten proto heavy rockers that have been excavated from the depths of memory and given new purpose.  Lovingly curated and nursed back to life; then unleashed upon a musical landscape that didn’t know it needed the songs, but by Jimi – we’re thankful for them.

The first track on this compilation, “Something Else” by Adam Wind, didn’t flip my switch much at first.  After a couple of plays, however, the Hendrix style guitar frenzy did the trick.  Then the marvellously named Grump rock out with “I’ll Give You Love”, reminiscent of the mighty Steppenwolf with skronky organs and scratchy guitar.

“Diamond Lady” from Larry Lynn is a fantastic punchy, psychedelic number.  Then midway through the album, we get “In Wyrd” by Renaissance Fare.  This track sounds like the Doors being particularly annoying when they’re on the wrong drugs.  Thankfully, at under 3 minutes, it avoids some of Jimbo and pals’ lengthier exasperations; it’s the only challenge on an otherwise album of rock’n’roll killers.

My highlight of the collection is “Just Can’t Say” by Day Break – a boogie influenced groover with desert rock swagger.  Debb Johnson contribute “Dancing in the Ruin”, which packs Stax style brass to great effect, and finally Crazy Jerry rounds things off with the riff-tastic “Every Girl Gets One”.

The Eleventh Trip in this series continues to surprise and entertain.  It’s a compilation that’s so solid you’d need a forklift to move it.  Dig out your flares and love beads, heat up the lava lamp – it’s party time again!

By the way, I invented the term “skronky organs” and I’m trademarking it.

Track listing:

  1. Adam Wind – Something Else
  2. Grump – I’ll Give You Love
  3. Bagshot Row – Turtle Wax Blues
  4. Larry Lynn – Diamond Lady
  5. Renaissance Fair – In Wyrd
  6. Zendik – Mom’s Apple Pie Boy
  7. Day Break – Just Can’t Say
  8. West Minist’r – I Want You
  9. Debb Johnson – Dancing in the Ruin
  10. Crazy Jerry – Every Girl Gets One

Check out RidingEasy Records on the world wide web here or on Bandcamp here.

You can also check them out on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

This review has been brought to you by Platinum Al, in association with the awesome Ever Metal.

Endoscopy Playlist

Last year was a nightmare. The worst part for me, beyond the pandemic, was my Farmer Giles playing up. I was in absolute agony, for months. The previously pleasant experience of seeing a friend to the coast became torture.

Over the years I’ve had several tattoos; fallen off a ramp whilst skateboarding and landed forehead first; fallen through a neighbours loft, shredding my foot in the process – plus many more ridiculous episodes of pain. None of them have ever hurt like the Emma Freuds giving you trouble, I can tell you. God bless all the mothers out there, because I have no doubt child birth is worse than a cat-arse-trophy like mine and I respect you all the more for going through with it.

After several weeks and months of treatment and examination by wonderful NHS staff, my ailment had been diagnosed as an anal fissure and I was mostly cured. I still pray every night that I have beaten this terrible affliction.

Part of the healing process was a visit to hospital for an endoscopy examination, i.e: a camera up the bum. The problem was determined, and thus, this was purely a precautionary measure.

My examination was held at the Nuffield hospital in Chester, who were helping the local NHS heroes in a dire time. I was somewhat apprehensive, but was very well looked after by the nurses and doctors there. I had fasted for hours. Then, I had to wait in a rather grand, clean white room, wearing my surgical gown.

Whilst waiting for the exam, I was entertained by music playing around the hospital ward. It was a mixture of classic pop, rock and disco, mostly from the Seventies, and I enjoyed every second. Tapping my fingers and singing along, I was relaxed and optimistic for the procedure. I was so happy, I made a mental note of as many songs as I could remember and created this playlist.

Here is the playlist, which I recommend to lighten your spirits in adverse moments!

  • ABBA – “Take a Chance on Me”
  • Rainbow – “Since You’ve Been Gone”
  • Toto – “Hold the Line”
  • Blondie – “One Way or Another”
  • Buggles – “Video Killed the Radio Star”
  • Rod Stewart – “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy”
  • Yvonne Elliman – “If I Can’t Have You”
  • Bee Gees – “Jive Talkin'”
  • Stevie Wonder – “Superstition”
  • Wild Cherry – “Play That Funky Music”
  • Boston – “More Than a Feeling”
  • Kiss – “I Was Made for Loving You”
  • T-Rex – “Get It On”
  • The O’Jays – “Love Train”
  • Hues Corporation – “Rock the Boat”
  • Genesis – “Follow You, Follow Me”
  • Boney M – “Daddy Cool”
  • The Nolans – “I’m in the Mood for Dancing”

Those are all the songs I could remember (the gas they gave me may have blurred some of my memory). But what a great selection of songs! I’ll bet anyone would feel ecstatic with tunes like those to cheer you up.

One thing that made me laugh, was waiting for the doctor to visit me with a camera to go up the nether eye whilst “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” was blaring out. That song was so inappropriate I couldn’t help but chortle.

This blog was brought to you in association with the Viz Profanisaurus, a modern work of literary genius.

Moths/The Stone Eye – EP Review

Moths/The Stone Eye – Split

Self-released (Dewar PR)

Release date: 21/08/2020

Running time: 26 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8/10

Variety, as they say, is the spice of life.  Which is why I like to mix my drinks.  And my strippers.   Why stick to just one, when you can explore everything life has to offer?  This split EP offers two bands and four tracks in total, showcasing a considerable amount of musical diversity and talent.

First up is Puerto Rican band Moths, with their track “Intervention”.  Beginning deceptively calm, restrained and quite beautiful, it soon builds and descends from a chunky stoner riff.  And then, at pretty much the halfway mark, “Intervention” erupts into a full-on aggressive growl fest, though still portraying an adept progressive spirit.  

The meandering intrigue of the opening track is followed by a less surprising cover of the Black Sabbath classic “Hand of Doom”.  A great song, but I was hoping for more original material or an unusual cover.  No fear though, Moths inject the Sabs tune with plenty of atmosphere, the powerhouse vocals of Damaris Rodriguez helping to make their own mark on the song.  Not easy with a genuine metal standard like this, Moths have the class to pull it off.

Then it’s over to The Stone Eye, for their track “Prescence of the Mind”.  These guys are from Philadelphia, PA in the USA.  A little harder to pin a style on, they journey on a stoner path that adds in psychedelic detours akin to some of the best 90s alternative rock – but never abandoning a gutsy garage rock swagger.

A cover of the old trad ballad “Wayfaring Stranger” is next from The Stone Eye.  Delivered in a bluesy style, it contrasts nicely with the other songs.  It both delights and begs for another play.

And there you have it: four songs, different in style but each displaying a sound that seems to well define both bands.  An excellent endeavour from both Moths and The Stone Eye, you’d be well rewarded in tracking this down.

And while we’re on the subject of moths: Glenn Danzig – remember him?  Singer/visionary with the Misfits, Samhain, and of course, Danzig.  Body builder, martial arts master and expert on the occult.  Scared to death of moths, I shit you not.  Always running around with his hands over his face, hiding under tables if there was one around.  Eventually, I learned to calm Glenn down by telling him that moths were simply goth butterflies.  Amazingly, it worked.

Check out Moths on Facebook, Twitter and Bandcamp.

Check out The Stone Eye on Facebook, Twitter and Bandcamp.

This review was brought to you by Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub in association with Ever Metal.

The Goners – Good Mourning Album Review

The Goners – Good Mourning

RidingEasy Records (Us/Them Group)

Release date: 13/03/2020

Running time: 41 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

This little beauty threw off it’s shackles and ran for the hills, almost without me noticing.  I’m blaming the societal breakdown caused by Corona virus, obviously not an oversight on my part.  No, sir.  “Good Mourning” – the debut album from The Goners – was released back in March 2020; just before the world turned into a 1970’s Charlton Heston dystopian sci-fi movie.

The Goners are comprised of Nate Gone – formerly of Salem’s Pot – on vocals, with four dudes from Swedish rock band Yvonne.  “Good Mourning” is a throw-back to zoned-out good times and bizarro occult rock, with absolutely no regret the morning after.

First song “Are You Gone Yet” sets the pace nicely: fuzzy 60’s garage rock with a proto metal ferocity.  With the next track, “High, Low and Never In Between”, the Goners throw in more of their other specialty – 70s doom with groovy, care-free freak outs.

Wonderfully out of time, this retro feast also sounds totally now.  You can throw this on your portable music system and liven up any social gathering (so long as you stay far enough apart).  Press play and jump around all crazy-style to “Evil (Is Not Enough)” and “The Little Blue” – this is Black Sabbath if they were a Stones cover band.

Plus – and this seals the deal – a couple of fine, desert bleached songs in “Good Ol’ Death” and “Dead in the Saddle” that rattle with a dread atmosphere.  Absolutely essential for your next David Lynch/rockabilly/goth themed horror party.

“Good Mourning” by The Goners, then: if you’re a werewolf biker trapped in a cursed world you never made, but like to let your scraggy hair down with chicks from a Russ Meyer movie – this is for you.  Great cover art, too.

I’ve thought I was a goner myself, on a few occasions: most of them involving my old mucker Ozzy Osbourne.  One time, we were drinking in a golf club in LA and got thrown out, as you can imagine.  So, Ozzy decided to go for a joyride in a golf buggy, with me on shotgun.  He was flooring it, but we were only going at a jogging pace, so the golfers soon caught us up and were ready to brain us with their hitty-stick things.

All of a sudden, Oz drove the buggy over a hill and we toppled into a sand dune (bunker?).  We were lucky we were thrown clear and the buggy just managed to avoid crushing the pair of us.  The golfers took pity and consoled us with a nice brandy in the clubhouse.  Till the cops turned up, and dragged Ozzy and me off to jail.  The whole time, we were both wearing Sharon’s dresses.

Find The Goners on Bandcamp and Facebook.

Check out the RidingEasy Records website, or find them on Bandcamp or Facebook.

This review was brought to you by Platinum Al and Ever Metal.

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #18

 

Join me once again, relaxing in the waters of the Virtual Hot Tub, for Singles Night.  No,  this is not a dating event: rather, it’s just me, spinning a stack of – as yet – unplayed 7 inch vinyl.  Combined with reasonably heavy drinking.

You see, there’s a load of 45 rpm records that I own and need to play.  So I play ’em, one after the other, side a then B.  No skipping discs allowed.

Here’s the playlist from the latest evening of tunes:

  1. Hawkwind – “Silver Machine” / “Seven By Seven”
  2. Diana Ross – “My Old Piano” / “Where Did We Go Wrong”
  3. Slade – “My Friend Stan” / “My Town”
  4. Paul Paray & Detroit Symphony Orchestra – ” The Ride of the Valkyries” / “Lohengrin (Prelude to Act I)”
  5. Barry White – “Never, Never Gonna Give You Up” / “Standing in the Shadows of Love”
  6. Tracey Ullman – “Breakaway” / “Dancing in the Dark”
  7. Toto Coelo – “I Eat Cannibals Part 1” / “I Eat Cannibals Part 2”
  8. Carly Simon – “You’re So Vain” / “Anticipation”
  9. The Beach Boys – “Lady Lynda” / “Full Sail”
  10. The Cars – “Drive” / “Stranger Eyes”
  11. Duran Duran – “My Own Way” / “Like an Angel”
  12. Sinitta – “So Macho!” / “Cruising”
  13. Daryl Hall & John Oates – “Private Eyes” / “Tell Me What You Want”
  14. Cockney Rebel – “Mr Soft” / “Such a Dream”
  15. Paul Hardcastle – “The Wizard (Part 1)” / “The Wizard (Part 2)”
  16. Roxy Music – “Dance Away” / “Cry Cry Cry”
  17. Robert Palmer – “Some Guys Have All the Luck” / “Too Good to be True”
  18. Emerson Lake & Palmer – “Fanfare for the Common Man” / “Brain Salad Surgery”
  19. Bangles – “Eternal Flame” / “What I Meant to Say”
  20. Kim Wilde & Junior – “Another Step (Closer to You)” / “Hold Back”
  21. Mud – “Tiger Feet” / “Mr Bagatelle”
  22. Status Quo – “Something ‘Bout You Baby I Like” / “Enough is Enough”
  23. Sister Sledge – “Lost in Music” / “Thinking of You”
  24. Sarah Brightman & Hot Gossip – “I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper” / “Do, Do, Do”

BOOM!  There you go – a right random collection of singles, varying from the classic to the down right cheesy.  Kicking off with the amazing Hawkwind track “Silver Machine”, as sung by my old mate Lemmy – I picked that up at a record fair ‘cos I had to have it in my collection.

I loved The Cars and Roxy songs, sheer class.  Plus you’ve got a harem of some of my favourite pop ladies with Kim Wilde, Susanna Hoffs and Sinitta all present and correct.  By the way, the Sarah Brightman song was a favourite of mine when I was 5 years old, thanks to the rip-off Star Wars noises etc!

And what can I say about “Ride of the Valkyries” on 7 inch vinyl?  Only “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

See you soon for another Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub!

Brown Acid: the Tenth Trip – Album Review

Various Artists – Brown Acid: The Tenth Trip

Riding Easy Records

Release date: 20/04/2020 (?)

Running time: 33 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

 

Between me and you, I’ve been wondering when this series of proto metal/heavy psyche long-lost artifacts would start to go off the boil.  This is the tenth instalment now, and any listener could be forgiven for thinking that maybe, the well might run dry.  That the party is over, the acid has worn off, and the hippies have traded in their kaftans for the last time.  I mean, how much of these rare, forgotten nuggets can there be left, for the rock’n’roll gravediggers at Riding Easy Records to exhume?

Well pardon me for being a fanboy, but the Brown Acid trip is far from over.   In fact, this could be my favourite volume so far.

Yes, it’s more of the same: fuzzy, psychedelic late 60s/early 70s heavy rock; somehow cast aside for around fifty years, waiting to be rediscovered.  Gems that pre-date and redefine the genealogical development of metal and hard rock; throwing the long-standing theories of origin into dispute like some musical Antikythera mechanism.  But this time, if anything, the tunes are better than ever.

Here we have Sounds Synonymous with “Tensions”, a fuzz-rock monster with a “Wild Thing” feel and washes of freaky organ not a million miles removed from Steppenwolf.  Witness also the wonder of “Never Again” from Ralph Williams and the Wright Brothers, melding melodic vocals with an “American Woman” style desert rock vibe.   “Babylon” by Conception rolls with some funky, Hendrix-like riffs and a great pop sensibility, not to mention a fabulous bluesy instrumental section.

Bitter Creek deliver “Plastic Thunder”, which has a Who meets Stooges aggressive sound.  On “Mr. Sun”, First State Bank (rad name!) provide a Mountain-covering-the-Kinks lesson in far-out groovery.  Then there’s Brothers and One with the saucily titled “Hard On Me”, which has a little Hawkwind on a road to Maiden’s “Running Free”.

Probably the best track is “The Roach”, by The Brood (another quality name).  It’s a MC5/Sabbath garage rocker with apocalyptic horns and keys, heralding the end of peace and love and the arrival of the age of doom.

Freaky, fuzzy and far-out: that’s the latest edition of Brown Acid.  If you’re late to the party, jump on the magic bus right now and let your hair down.  Signs are this festival is gonna run and run.

 

Here’s a link to the Riding Easy Records website and their Bandcamp.

You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

This article first appeared as a review on Ever Metal.  Please use the electronic super highway to pay them a visit via this link.

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #17

Hello there, reader!  Welcome to my Virtual Hot tub.  Grab a drink and chill out in the warm, comforting water – it’s time to play some more 7 inch vinyl records!

That’s right folks, I’m spinning more records and having a little drinkie.  First off the top of the pile, A side then B side, working my way through the vinyl I’ve not played yet.  No picking and choosing, just playing whatever’s next.

Here’s the latest batch:

  1. Madness – “Michael Caine” / “If You Think There’s Something”
  2. Elton John – “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” / “Screw You”
  3. Sarah Vaughn – “Moonglow” / “So Long” / “Maria” / “Invitation”
  4. Oran “Juice” Jones – “The Rain” / “Your Song”
  5. Peter Howell & The BBC Radiophonic Workshop – “Doctor Who” / “The Astronauts”
  6. Madonna – “Into the Groove” / “Shoo-Bee-Doo”
  7. Faces – “Pool Hall Richard” / “I Wish It Would Rain”
  8. The Boomtown Rats – “I Don’t Like Mondays” / “It’s All the Rage”
  9. Los Lobos – “La Bamba” / “Charlena”
  10. Elton John – “Song for Guy” / “Lovesick”
  11. Cozy Powell – “Dance with the Devil” / “And Then There Was Skin”
  12. C+C Music Factory (ft. Freedom Williams – “Things That Make You Go Hmmm… (7” Remix) / “Things That Make You Go Hmmm… (LP Version)”
  13. Divinyls – “I Touch Myself” / “Follow Through”
  14. Marillion – “Kayleigh” / “Lady Nina”
  15. Glen Campbell & Rita Coolidge – “Somethin’ ‘Bout You Baby I Like” / “Late Night Confession”
  16. The Fun Boy Three with Bananarama – “T’Ain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It)” / “The Funarama Theme”
  17. Diana Ross – “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” / “Think I’m in Love”
  18. Duran Duran – “Union of the Snake” / “Secret Oktober”
  19. Kate Robbins – “More Than in Love” / “Now”
  20. Jan Hammer – “Crockett’s Theme” / “Miami Vice: New York Theme”
  21. Status Quo – “Caroline” / “Joanne”

Yes, that Glen Campbell/Rita Coolidge IS the same as the Quo classic!  Quite a few fun tunes in that session, including one of my favourite Madness songs ever, double for Elton, and a great Miami Vice theme.

Join me again soon for another Singles Night!

Randy Holden – Population II Album Review

Randy Holden – Population II

Riding Easy Records

Release date: 28/02/2020

Running time: 32 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

 

First of all, an important note for all readers: Randy Holden is NOT the name of a winning hand in strip poker.  I used the phrase at a recent gathering at my Rock’n’Roll Naturist Society club, and nearly got a bunch of fives from Ozzy as a thank you.  Tommy Lee was up for it though, as you can probably imagine.

Anyway, Randy Holden is actually a guitar pioneer who served some time with proto-metal giants Blue Cheer, before splitting to take the helm of his own project.  Population II was the result – a far ahead of it’s time Big Bang of doom and sludge metal.

Originally receiving a limited release in 1969, this album has earned cult status with afficionados of early heavy rock.  And it’s no surprise why; “Population II” is a huge sounding, riff driven behemoth that sounds like it simply can’t have been created in that time period.

But it was.  The era that popular culture tells us was the age of peace and love also birthed this unholy slab of heavy noise.  Randy Holden, like his previous bandmates in Blue Cheer, was happily stomping all over flower power.

Of course, “Population II” is totally over the top.  “Guitar Song” is the first track, featuring the somewhat unimaginative opening line “I love the sound of a guitar playing” – so no marks for lyrical finesse.  If you’re after poetry, this probably ain’t for you.  Instead it’s six minutes of slow, heavy driving riff-based rock that sets the tone for the album.

 “Fruit Icebergs” is an outstanding name for any song; in fact, I might steal it for a band name.  Slow like cooling lava, with a doom-laden melancholic sound –  It’s dark in a Sabbath way.  Whereas the shorter “Between Time” picks up the pace a little and borrows a chorus from “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”.

“Blue My Mind” is less gloomy, but certainly taps into the blues with a hint of Hendrix.  The final song, “Keeper of my Flame” is over 10 minutes of pulsating, repetitive riff wrestling that doesn’t out stay it’s welcome.  Ol’ Randy stretches for the epic here and pretty much nails it, strangling that guitar and taking the listener on a heroic journey.

Yet another history lesson for which we can thank the scholars at Riding Easy Records, Randy Holden’s “Population II” is back in circulation and worth taking time to investigate.  You’ll wonder how this was lost for so long.

Visit Riding Easy records on the interweb here.

Or on Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.

Don’t forget to visit Ever Metal – where this review first appeared  for all your rock and metal news.