Dave Brubeck Quartet – Jazz At The College Of The Pacific (1954)

FrontCover1.jpgJazz at the College of the Pacific is a live album by Dave Brubeck Quartet. It was recorded and released in December 1953 on Fantasy Records as F 3223. The cover was designed by Ed Colker and drawn by Arnold Roth. Critic Nat Hentoff wrote on Down Beat magazine that the album “ranks with the Oberlin and Storyville sets as the best of Brubeck on record”.

Fantasy released seven additional performances from this concert in 2002 on the album Jazz at the College of the Pacific, Vol. 2. (by wikipedia)

This set is a near-classic, one of many from this period, by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Drummer Joe Dodge had just joined the group, and he works with bassist Ron Crotty in laying down a solid and subtle foundation. The real action, however, takes place up front with pianist Dave Brubeck and altoist Paul Desmond. Their individual solos are full of creative ideas on six standards — most memorable are “All the Things You Are,” “Laura,” and “I’ll Never Smile Again” — and their interaction and tradeoffs are timeless. Recommended. (by Scott Yanow)


Rare French labels

Before he hit it big with Time Out, Dave Brubeck found a niche market with the college crowd. The tweed coat and horn-rimmed glasses set were eager to soak in all that he had to offer, and Brubeck can take part of the credit for turning jazz into a more academic pursuit than it was previously held to be.

His earliest recordings, such as this one from 1953, were mostly standards recorded in various live venues at colleges around the country. While most people are familiar with Brubeck’s later Columbia records that feature all the hits, these early recordings feature a tarnished charm and a glimpse of the foundation of the West Coast sound. Here one can hear the beginnings of the polyrhythmic experiments that would evolve into forays in odd time signatures and the quartet’s ability to have multiple members soloing without muddying the sound.


Paul Desmond and Brubeck are one of the greatest teams jazz ever produced, and even at this early stage both share an ability to navigate tricky melodic concepts while still sounding smooth. Although the up-tempo numbers are the most adventurous, a lovely reading of “Laura” by Brubeck is the most conventional and the most rewarding, and “I’ll Never Smile Again” is a tune tailor made for Desmond’s dry, wistful soloing.

Many will bypass these early recordings in favor of the later concept albums, but with this album of standards in a live setting, Brubeck doesn’t disappoint and shows that he was a little ahead of the game and finding new ways to tread old paths. Those who enjoy this recording will also like the equally fine Jazz at the College of the Pacific Vol. 2, featuring more recordings from this concert. (by David Rickert)


Alternate frontcovers

Dave Brubeck (piano)
Ron Crotty (bass)
Paul Desmond (saxophone)
Joe Dodge (drums)

01. All The Things You Are (Kern/Hammerstein II) 9.12
02. Laura (Raksin/Mercer) 3.12
03. Lullaby In Rhythm (Hirsch/Goodman) 7.25
04. I’ll Never Smile Again (Lowe) 5.28
05. I Remember You (Schertzinger/Mercer) 9.12
07. For All We Know (Coots/Lewis) 5.51



Jean Couroyer & His Dance Orchestra – International Hit Parade (1962)

FrontCover1“A popular melody is as international a language as you will find anywhere in this world of ours. You don´t have to know the text to hum or whistle a happy tune – no matter what country of origin.

It is therefore little wonder that dance band leader Jean Couroyer roams musically across many borders in gathering material for his recording and makes sure of the widest possible acceptance by selecting the most popular dance rhythms.” (J.H. Watson from the liner notes to International Hit Parade)

This is another Swiss Varieton LP that I bought together with the Aprés-Ski in Kitzbühel album. Varieton was a sub-label of the main Swiss label Ex-Libris, used for budget releases like this one. The production is not so bad though, using thick cardboard and slick printing. It looks almost like an american album. The illustration on the sleeve however looks like it was drawn in five minutes by somebody who was not into the job at all. And it probably was. Regrettably I have had similar experiences in the past. The customer doesn´t really care or know the difference and I don´t really care or have the Jean Couroyer01Atime either. So I rush a job. But receiving some product weeks later that reeks of all the reluctance it was crafted with feels bad. It´s embarassing to do poor work. Luckily those jobs are the exception, but at least for some reason they are always the best paying.

The raw and bold brush work and the combination of the innocent big girl dancing with the bald little man stands out though. He´s hanging in mid-air and she´s missing an arm but there´s a primitive charm to it. Most certainly the rest of the album´s design was done by other people than the guy who did the sketch. The Ad Lib font used for the title of the album was designed in 1961 by Freeman Craw for the American Type Founders (ATF), so it was pretty hip at the time. When I see the font I think of Crypt Records, because they have used it excessively on their album covers and for their catalogues since the 1980´s.

Sure, all this analysis is redundant considering that apart from three twist songs the album is pretty forgettable, at least to my ears. But I buy some records for other reasons than the music and I do enjoy this restrained orchestra rock´n´roll that was made for old people. Maybe because I am old. Not a lot of information on the Internet about Jean Couroyer, but I guess he is from Switzerland. (by mischalke04.wordpress.com)

Yes, Jean Couroyer was a guitar player based in the french part of Switzerland. amd he active till the early Seventies as an Easy Listening conductor for many projects.

Here we can hear his versions of popular Twist and High Scholl Rock n Roll from the Fifites … a nice addition for every Easy Listening collection.

Jean Couroyer02A.jpg

Jean Couroyer & His Dance Orchestra


01. Let’s Twist Again (Mann/Appell) 1.42
02. La Bamba (Traditional) 2.29
03. Il Fault Savoir (Aznavour) 2.34
04. The Boogie-Twist (Davido) 2.03
05. You Don’t Know (Schroeder/Hawker) 2.48
06. Sucu-Sucu (Rojas) 2.06
07. Peppermint Twist (Dee) 2.30
08. The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Weiss/Peretti/Creatore) 2.41
09. La Pachanga (Davidson) 2.06
10. Midnight Twist (Davido) 2.33
11. Vamos A Ver (Davido) 2.11
12. La Novia (Prietto/Mogol) 2.28
13. The Twist (Ballard) 2.42
14. Coco Cha-Cha (Davido) 2.37



Hokus Pokus – Same (1972)

FrontCover1.JPGThis is a really rare album in the history of Michael Monarch:

Michael Monarch (born July 5, 1950 in Los Angeles) is an American guitarist. He is best known for his work with the band Steppenwolf.

As the original lead guitarist with Steppenwolf (until 1969), he played on all their hits, including “Born to Be Wild”, “Magic Carpet Ride”, and “Rock Me”, while still in high school. He also played on Janis Joplin’s album I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama! and was a member of the Michael Des Barres-fronted band Detective.

Monarch performs with other 1960s and 1970s rockers in the supergroup World Classic Rockers.  (by wikipedia)

Michael Monarch talks about this shortlived group:

Question: After Steppenwolf, you formed the band Hokus Pokus and got a record deal with Romar/Mercury Records. How long did Hokus Pokus last, and do you have any fond memories of the band?

Michael: It did not last too long. The keyboard player, Scott Thurston was great and went on to play with Jackson Browne and now The Heartbreakers. We actually ran out of money after recording the basic tracks and had to finish the overdubs and mix with a deadline of 3 days. That was insane but we did it!

I went to England with John (the singer in Hokus Pokus) and we formed a band with Herman Rarebell on drums who later went on to form the Scorpions. We were with RSO but did not release anything. After about six months we broke up … 

Hokus Pokus included Michael Monarch (Steppenwolf, Detective), Scott Thurston (Stooges), Danny Gorman (Yellow Payges) and Jon Hyde (Detective). Apparently just not destined for stardom as a band (although they were fairly successful playing the L.A. club scene at the time). (TheDroid)

And this is not only an extreme rare album but it´s a real good one … if you like the early Faces or the guitar playing of the great Paul Kossoff  … than this album is a must … believe me …

And the opening riff of “Baby I Love You” reminds me to “Going Down” by Don Nix and the “Back Rent Blues” is one of the highlights of this album.


Billy Cioffi (bass)
Danny Gorman (drums)
John E. Hyde (vocals)
Michael Monarch (guitar)
Scott Thurston (keyboards)


01. Baby I Love You (Shannon) 3.03
02. She’s On My Mind (Monarch/Hyde) 3.21
03. Dr. Feelgood (Franklin/White) 5.32
04. Moccasin (Monarch/Hyde) 3.19
05. Work And Slavery (Monarch) 4.50
06. I Need A Friend (Monarch/Hyde) 3.01
07. Packages (Monarch/Hyde) 4.04
08. Back Rent Blues (Monarch/Hyde) 5.42
09. Sympathy (Monarch/Hyde) 4.16
10. Let The Good Times Roll (Lee) 3.21




Screenshot from the offical Michael Monarch website

Todd Rundgren – Faithful (1976)

FrontCover1.JPGFaithful is Todd Rundgren’s seventh album, released in 1976.

Rundgren explained the motivation of the first side as treating rock music like European classical music, where a piece is performed over and over again in essentially the same way. The album’s core group of musicians—Rundgren, Wilcox, Siegler and Powell (all members of Utopia)—makes this a Utopia album in all but name, though other official Utopia albums featured songs written by other members of the band and not just by Rundgren.

The first side is dedicated to “faithful” re-recordings—near-replications of the originals—of some classic 1960s psychedelic-era songs, while side two comprised original material. ToddRundgren01.jpgCritic Robert Christgau called the second side Rundgren’s “clearest and most interesting set of songs since Something/Anything?” and magazine Rolling Stone’s rock critic John Milward said “the original material that fills side two is a more ambitious tribute to his influences and his strongest collection of pop tunes since his classic “Something/Anything”.”

The closing song, “Boogies (Hamburger Hell)”, opens with a reference to Beefsteak Charlie’s, which former Utopia drummer Kevin Ellman was currently operating along with his family.

The album was released in May 1976 with virtually no advertising. Bearsville Records’ president Paul Fiskin believed Rundgren fans would purchase just as many albums as his previous releases based on word of mouth. Only the remake of The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” was released as a single and charted briefly but the album itself made it to #54 on the Billboard Album Charts. (by wikipedia)


Todd Rundgren considered 1966 the beginning of his professional musical career, largely because the Nazz formed around that time. As a celebration, he recorded Faithful. Presumably, Faithful celebrates the past and the future by juxtaposing a side of original pop material with a side of covers. Actually, “covers” isn’t accurate — the six oldies that comprise the entirety of side one are re-creations, with Rundgren “faithfully” replicating the sound and feel of the Yardbirds (“Happenings Ten Years Time Ago”), Bob Dylan (“Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine”), Jimi Hendrix (“If Six Was Nine”), the Beach Boys (“Good Vibrations”) and the Beatles “(“Rain,” “Strawberry Fields Forever”). All of this is entertaining, to a certain extent, especially since it’s remarkable how close Rundgren comes to duplicating the very feel of the originals. Still, it’s hard to see it as much more than a flamboyant throwaway, especially when compared with the glorious second side. For the first time since Something/Anything?, Rundgren allows himself to write and — more importantly — record straight-ahead pop songs. Certainly, A Wizard, A True Star, Todd and Initiation had their share of great songs, but they weren’t delivered as pop songs; they were telegraphed as art. Here, Rundgren delivers pop and rock songs with ease, letting the melodies glide to the forefront. There are embellishments, of course, but the end result is a lushness that’s apparent even on the hard rockers. If Rundgren had made all of Faithful originals, it would have been a pure pop masterpiece. As it stands, it’s essential for the faithful — not only for hardcore Toddheads, but for devoted pop fans as well. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)


The singles from this album

Roger Powell (trumpet, keyboards, rhythm guitar on 05.)
Todd Rundgren – guitar, vocals, all instruments on 09.)
John Siegler (bass, cello)
John Wilcox (drums)


01. Happenings Ten Years Time Ago (Beck/McCarty/Page/Relf) 3.13
02. Good Vibrations (Love/Wilson) 3.44
03. Rain (Lennon/McCartney) 3.18
04. Most Likely You Go Your Way And I’ll Go Mine (Dylan) 3.27
05. If Six Was Nine (Hendrix) 4.56
06. Strawberry Fields Forever (Lennon/McCartney) 3.52
07. Black And White (Rundgren) – 4:42
08. Love Of The Common Man (Rundgren) – 3:35
09. When I Pray (Rundgren) – 2:58
10. Cliché (Rundgren) 4.01
11. The Verb “To Love” (Rundgren) 7.25
12. Boogies (Hamburger Hell) (Rundgren) 5.05





Henry Vestine – Guitar Gangster (1991)

FrontCover1.jpgHenry Charles Vestine (December 25, 1944 – October 20, 1997) a.k.a. “The Sunflower”, was an American guitar player known mainly as a member of the band Canned Heat. He was with the group from its start in 1966 to July 1969. In later years he played in local bands but occasionally returned to Canned Heat for a few tours and recordings.

In 2003 Vestine was ranked 77th in Rolling Stone magazine list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.

Born in Takoma Park, Maryland, Vestine was the only son of Harry and Lois Vestine. His father was a noted physicist who specialized in gravity studies. The Vestine Crater on the Moon had been named posthumously after him. Henry Vestine married twice, first in 1965 and in the mid-1970s to Lisa Lack, with whom he moved to Anderson, South Carolina. In 1980 they had a son, Jesse. In 1983, after they separated, Vestine moved to Oregon.

HenryVestine03Vestine’s love of music and the blues in particular was fostered at an early age when he accompanied his father on canvasses of black neighborhoods for old recordings. Like his father, Henry became an avid collector, eventually owning tens of thousands of recordings of blues, hillbilly, country, and Cajun music. At Henry’s urging, his father also used to take him to blues shows at which he and Henry were often the only white people present. Later Henry was instrumental in the “rediscovery” of Skip James and other Delta musicians.

In the mid-1950s, Henry and his childhood friend from Takoma Park, John Fahey, began to learn how to play guitar and sang a mixed bag of pop, hillbilly, and country music, particularly Hank Williams. Soon after the family moved to California, Henry Vestine joined his first junior high band Hial King and the Newports. On his first acid trip with a close musician friend, he went to an East LA tattoo parlor and got the first of what was to be numerous tattoos: the words “Living The Blues”. Later, in 1969, that became the title of a double album by Canned Heat. By the time he was seventeen he was a regular on the Los Angeles club circuit.


He became a familiar sight at many black clubs, where he often brought musician friends to turn them on to the blues. Henry became friends with Cajun guitarist Jerry McGhee. It was from him that Henry learned the flat pick and 3-fingerstyle that became so much a part of Henry’s own style. He was an early fan of Roy Buchanan and his favorite guitar players included T-Bone Walker, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Sonny Sharrock, Freddie King, and Albert Collins. In Canned Heat he was able to play and record with John Lee Hooker whom he had admired since the late 1950s.

Throughout the early to mid-1960s Henry played in various musical configurations and eventually was hired by Frank Zappa for the original Mothers of Invention in late October 1965. Vestine was in the Mothers for only a few months and left before they recorded their debut album. Demo tapes from Mothers of Invention rehearsal sessions featuring Vestine (recorded in November 1965) appear on the Frank Zappa album Joe’s Corsage; posthumously released in 2004.

HenryVestine05His friend Fahey was to be instrumental in the formation of Canned Heat. He had introduced Al Wilson, whom he knew from Boston, to Henry and Bob and Richard Hite. Wilson, Vestine and the Hite brothers formed a jug band that rehearsed at Don Brown’s Jazz Man record Shop. Bob Hite and Alan Wilson started Canned Heat with Kenny Edwards as a second guitarist, but Henry was asked to join. The first notable appearance of the band was the following year when they played at the Monterey Pop Festival. Shortly after Canned Heat’s first album was released, Henry burst into musical prominence as a guitarist who stretched the idiom of the blues with long solos that moved beyond the conventional genres. He had his own style and a trademark piercing treble guitar sound. Vestine missed playing at the Woodstock Festival in 1969, having quit the band the previous week. In 1995, he explained to an Australian reporter that “[a]t the time, it was just another gig. It was too bad I wasn’t there, but I just couldn’t continue with the band at the time.” There had some tension between him and bassist Larry Taylor. When Taylor quit Canned Heat, Vestine returned; their alternating membership in the band was to be repeated a few more times over the years.

HenryVestine02While Canned Heat played at Woodstock in August 1969, Henry was invited to New York City for session work with avant-garde jazz great Albert Ayler. That session work resulted in two releases on the Impulse label.

At the same time he developed an intense interest in Harley Davidson motorcycles. He eventually owned eleven of them. Prior to his death he was looking forward to playing at their 75th Anniversary Celebration. Over the years he had also a close relationship with the Hells Angels.

Through the 1970s gradually Canned Heat had become a part-time occupation with occasional gigs and recordings sessions. When Vestine’s marriage broke up in 1983, he moved to Oregon. There he lived on a farm in rural Summit for a year and then in Corvallis, making a living doing odd jobs and playing music at rodeos and taverns in a country band with Mike Rosso, an old friend from southern California who had also moved to Oregon. He also played with Ramblin’ Rex.

Terry Robb brought Vestine to Portland and they did some recording together. Henry began playing with the Pete Carnes Blues Band and made his way to Eugene when the band folded in the mid-1980s. He played the regional club scene with a number of blues and blues-rock groups including James T. and The Tough. From that band he was to bring James Thornbury to a reconstituted Canned Heat.


Vestine toured with Canned Heat in Australia and Europe, where the band had a popularity that far surpassed the recognition they got in the United States. When he returned to Eugene he would play with The Vipers, a group of veteran Eugene blues musicians who perform throughout the Northwest. He continued to record including sessions with Oregon bands such as Skip Jones and The Rent Party Band, Terry Robb, and The Vipers. He also recorded the album Guitar Gangster with Evan Johns in Austin.

Vestine had finished a European tour with Canned Heat when he died from heart and respiratory failure in a Paris hotel on the morning of October 20, 1997, just as the band was awaiting return to the United States.

Henry Vestine’s ashes are interred at the Oak Hill Cemetery outside of Eugene, Oregon. A memorial fund has been set up in his name. The fund will be used for maintenance of his resting place at Oak Hill Cemetery and, when it is possible, for conveyance of some of his ashes to the Vestine Crater on the moon, which had been named after his father Ernest Harry Vestine. (by wikipedia)

Blues Hall Of Fame.jpg

And here´s is one of his most powerful recordings featuring Evan Johns,the legendary drummer Jimmy Carl Black and Marcia Ball (on piano only).

This is a tour de force album … enjoy the power and the many sides of the Blues ! Enjoy this gigh energy album !


The New Roses labels

Marcia Ball (piano)
Jimmy Carl Black (drums)
Mike Buck (drums)
Evan Johns (vocals, guitar)
Mark Kopi (guitar)
Dan McCann (bass)
Henry Vestine (guitar)


01. Henry’s Boogie (Vestine/Black/McCann/Johns) 4.31
02. Guitar Pickin’ Fool (Glover/Cee) 2.10
03. Henry Comes To Austin (Vestine/Black/McCann/Johns) 3.54
04. Drunk (Liggins) 5.37
05. Lookin’ Good (Maghett) 2.42
06. I’m A Whore (Vestine/Black/McCann/Johns) 3.42
07. No Phone (Vestine/Black/McCann/Johns) 4.04
08. The Stumble (King/Thomson) 4.20
09. Oh Henry (Vestine/Black/McCann/Johns) 3.37
10. No Care Boogie Ball (Vestine/Black/McCann/Johns) 1.59
11. I Wish Your Picture Was You (Price) 2.36
12. Marty Miss You (Vestine/Black/McCann/Johns) 3.10
13 Six O’Clock (Gross) 1.43
14. Troubles, Troubles (Langlois/Ruffino) 3.04
15. Death Blues (Vestine/Black/McCann/Johns/Korpi) 5.01
16. Henry’s Blues (Vestine/Black/McCann/Johns) 4.41





Various Artists – A Twist Of Jobim (1997)

FrontCover1.jpgTwist of Jobim contains a single disc with 11 songs. The CD has an unusual multi-artist tribute to the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim. Some of the Twist of Jobim songs are made funky (but in a melodic and tasteful way), while others become quiet (but still passionate) ballads. Twist of Jobim are all jazz-oriented songs.

The debut release from the I.E. label (which is connected with Polygram) is an unusual multi-artist tribute to the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim. Some of his tunes are made funky (but in a melodic and tasteful way), while others become quiet (but still passionate) ballads. The treatments are all jazz-oriented, and there is plenty of solo space for the likes of guitarist Lee Ritenour (in one of his finest jazz efforts), pianists Dave Grusin and Alan Pasqua, altoist Eric Marienthal, bassist Christian McBride, and tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts. Plus, there are guest spots for Herbie Hancock (an excellent acoustic piano solo on “Stone Flower”), the sopranos of Art Porter (on “Dindi”) and Steve Tavaglione, the Yellowjackets (who team up with Ritenour on “Mojave”), singer El DeBarge (“Dindi”) and the vocal duo of Al Jarreau and Oleta Adams (“Waters of March” and a lightweight rendition of “The Girl from Ipanema”). Nearly every song holds one’s interest, the melodies are celebrated, and the fresh interpretations contain more than their share of surprises. (by Scott Yanow)

Lee Ritenour

Oleta Adams (vocals on 04. + 11.)
El DeBarge (vocals on 03.
John Beasley (synthesizer on 02. + 04.)
Paulinho da Costa (percussion on 01., 06., 07, 10. + 11.)
Melvin Davis (bass on 02., 03. + 07.)
Cassio Duarte (percussion on 02.- 05 + 09.)
Russell Ferrante (synthesizer on 06., piano on 10. + 11.)
Dave Grusin (piano on 01., 02., 04. + 05.)
Herbie Hancock (piano on 06.)
Jimmy Haslip (bass on 10.)
Jerry Hey (flugelhorn on 07., 08.)
Dan Higgins (flute on 01., 07. – 09.)
Al Jarreau (vocals on 04. + 11.)
Will Kennedy (drums on 10.)
Eric Marienthal (saxophone on 02., 04 – 07.)
Harvey Mason (drums on 02., 04., 08. + 09.)
Christian McBride (bass on 08., 09.)
Bob Mintzer (saxophone on 10.)
Gary Novak (drums on 06.)
Alan Pasqua (piano on 08. + 09.)
John Patitucci (bass on 06.)
Lee Ritenour (guitar on 01., 02., 04., 06. – 10., keyboards, synthesizer on 01., 03. 07., 11., bass on 01. + 11.)
Steve Tavaglione (saxophone on 06., electronic wind instrument on 08. + 09.)
Ernie Watts (saxophone on 08. + 09.)


01. Dave Grusin / Lee Ritenour: Water To Drink (Agua de Beber) (Jobim) 5.06
02. Dave Grusin / Eric Marienthal / Lee Ritenour: Captain Bacardi (Jobim) 5.05
03. El DeBarge / Art Porter: Dindi (Jobim) 4.57
04. Oleta Adams / Al Jarreau: Waters of March (Aguas de Março) (Jobim) 4.38
05. Dave Grusin: Bonita (Gilbert/Jobim/Santamaria) 4.04
06. Paulinho Da Costa / Herbie Hancock / Steve Tavaglione: Stone Flower (Jobim) 8.49
07. Eric Marienthal / Lee Ritenour: Favela (Gilbert/Jobim/de Moraes) 4.47
08. Alan Pasqua / Ernie Watts: Children’s Games (Jobim) 3.53
09. Christian McBride / Ernie Watts: Lamento (Jobim/de Moraes) 6.27
10. Lee Ritenour / Yellowjackets: Mojave (Jobim) 5.22
11. Oleta Adams / Al Jarreau: The Girl From Ipanema (Gimbel/Jobim/de Moraes) 429




Randy Holden – Population II (1970)

FrontCover1Randy Holden (born July 2, 1945) is an American guitarist best known for his involvement with the West Coast acid rock group Blue Cheer on their third album, New! Improved! (1969). Additionally, he is a painter. His album Population II From 1970 is considered to be one of the earliest examples of doom metal.

Randy Holden was born in Pennsylvania and grew up on the move. He played in a number of bands including The Iridescents (blues rock), The Fender IV (surf rock) and the Sons of Adam (surf rock/psychedelic rock). Holden relocated the Fender IV from Baltimore, Maryland to Southern California and they eventually became the Sons of Adam. While playing in the Sons of Adam Holden opened for the Rolling Stones at their first show at the Long Beach Sports Arena. Holden was heavily influenced by Keith Richards’ guitar and amp set up which helped change his own attitude towards equipment and tone. The Sons of Adam (specifically Holden) began experimenting with distortion and feedback which pushed into psychedelic rock. Holden left the band frustrated with the lack of original material.

Holden joined up with The Other Half, a psychedelic garage band from Los Angeles. They recorded one album together before Holden parted ways. He then replaced Leigh Stephens in Blue Cheer and appeared on one side of the album New! Improved! Blue Cheer (1969). Holden toured with Blue Cheer for an entire year before once again parting ways.


Frustrated with lack of control over the bands, Randy formed his next new band with drummer Chris Lockheed. Lockheed, also a keyboard player, uniquely played both drums and keyboard simultaneously in live performances. During this time Holden obtained a sponsorship deal with Sunn amplifiers. Through this, he received his legendary sixteen 200 Watt amplifiers. His new band was dubbed “Randy Holden – Population II” which was a reference to the fact there were only two members in the band as well as being an astronomical term “Population II” that defines a special kind of Star Group cluster type, having Heavy Metal in its composition. An appropriate description of the original style of the music attributed to Holden’s new band. The band recorded its only album, Population II (1970).


Trouble with the release of the album led to Holden going bankrupt, losing all his equipment and his departure from music for over two decades. Population II was eventually released multiple times in bootleg forms over the years, with no official re-release until a limited issue in LP in 2005 and finally a remastered CD in 2008. The album has become a much-sought-after collectors’ item over the years. After more than two decades he returned to his guitar, and began creating music again, reportedly at the continual urging of a loyal fan. He recorded Guitar God in 1994 and released Guitar God 2001 in 2001, followed in 2008 with the release of “Raptor”.

In 2008 Richie Unterberger said “He’s a good candidate for selection as the great unknown 1960s rock guitar hero. No other American guitarist was as skilled at creating the kind of sustain-heavy, snaky guitar lines pioneered by Jeff Beck in the Yardbirds. His recordings with the Fender IV, Sons of Adam, Ugly Things, The Other Half, and Blue Cheer, as well as his solo recordings, don’t only contain some feverishly innovative playing. They also chart the overall rainbow of changes undergone by California 1960s rock guitar as a whole, from surf to pseudo-Merseybeat to psychedelia, hard rock and heavy metal.”

Randy is married to American artist Ruth Mayer. His son, Marlon Holden, is a photographer. (by wikipedia)


And here´s his very early masterpiece:

Holden’s first solo album (he would not release any more music for about 25 years) was a strange bridge between psychedelia and heavy metal. At times these lurching, extended songs sound like sub-Jimi Hendrix noodling. But at the same time they sound genuinely more sinister and feverish than the by-the-numbers heavy metal soloing that would become so popular starting in the early 1970s. The slow, sometimes dirge-like tempos were a result of an adventurous two-man band situation in which Holden’s only accompanist was Chris Lockheed, who played drums and keyboards simultaneously and couldn’t be expected to effectively keep rapid rhythms. Holden is much more of a guitar player than a singer/songwriter, but these do have some smoking sustain passages, sometimes with a stratosphere-like wobbly bite, as on “Fruits and Icebergs.” According to Holden the album was never officially released, but somehow the tapes or pressings must have reached collectors, as it’s been bootlegged more than once. (by Richie Unterberger)

RandyHolden05.jpgIn 1969, proto-metal guitarist Randy Holden owned no less than 16 amps, each encased with 200 watts of power, which might explain why this record, Population II, has guitars that sound not like heavy metal falling from the sky, but like black holes disintegrating chunks of the earth’s core. It’s an admirable sound achieved by just Holden and drummer Chris Lockheed (who also played keyboards simultaneously), coming together to make the tracks even more unbelievable. The album is a showcase for a great guitarist who was well versed in a variety of styles, who focused on distilling everything he knows into something monolithically heavy and, for most of it, slow, like an octogenarian driving in the left lane. The end result is music that weights down on you, but ultimately feels satisfying, like the best doom metal from any decade.

Sadly, Population II was a fluke, an occurrence that happened once and then quickly fell into oblivion. Soon after its release on Hobbit Records, a large portion of Randy’s gear was stolen, and the album was left in limbo until a couple of years ago. I wonder what metal would’ve been like had Population II directly influenced it with such dragging beats and thicker-than most-of-its-contemporaries riffs. I guess it’s something we’ll never know. But what’s undeniable is that history would’ve surely regarded Randy Holden as one of metal’s greatest blueprinters. (by Marcus Hassan)


The labels from the Line Records (Germany) re-release in 1982

Randy Holden (guitar, bass, vocals)
Chris Lockheed (drums)


01. Guitar Song 6:06
A2 Fruit & Iceburgs 5:59
A3 Between Time 1:48
A4 Fruit & Iceburgs (Conclusion) 1:48
B1 Blue My Mind 6:01
B2 Keeper Of My Flame 10:07

All songs written by Randy Holden



RandyHolden04Randy Holden in 2017