Raven – Back To Ohio Blues (1975)

OriginalFrontCover1975_1And here´s a real crazy, extremely rare album:

Jesus, where do I begin? Okay, earlier this week I went to one of my favorite music sites SHIT-FI and read lead scribe Stuart Schrader’s hilarious and dead on review of Ohio rock brute RAVEN’s ‘Back To Ohio Blues’. A lot of times, when you hear about ‘this is a crazy proto-punk assault’ it’s pretty tenuous, taking a bit of imagination to get you there. For his pure ‘life is fucked, fuck it’ lyrics and ‘I could give a shit’ attitude Raven is, in my book, a Proto-Punk on par with Ohio compadre’s Electric Eels, MC5 and yes, even Stooges.

Musically, ‘B2OB’ is definitely crude and rude; on album opener ‘Can’t You See’ the bass player is so off the mark it’s RIGHT FUCKING ON, adding a menace to a track that may have been merely ‘okay’ without it. Raven, who sings and plays guitar, definitely knows his way around a six string, pounding out the biker rock riffage and tearing off the solos after every obnoxious phrase. It’s certainly nothing new but the recordings were done quick, left rough and, if Raven’s lyrics are to be believed, fueled by sick amounts of hard drugs and booze. Needless to say, there’s an energy and violence at play here that is just missing in a lot of other so called ‘lost heavy psych gems’.


And those lyrics! And that voice!

Raven tries to play it cool, like on ‘Raven Mad Jam’ where he belts out the tried and true, ambiguous ‘Gotta Get High / Gotta Get Down’ mantra. But just when you’re ready to once again endure that farty old wink wink nudge nudge, Raven figures his listening audience may be sick of that old hat (or maybe too drunk to get it) and lays it bare with a ‘Gotta Get Stoned! / Gotta Get Fucked!’ coupling and with a hell of a lot more blood than the previous one. And in case you’re thinking that by ‘Gotta Get Stoned’ Raven is talking about smoking a little Acapulco Gold in a wicker chair, guess again Jack Webb!

AlternateFrontCoversAlternate frontcovers

Okay, Raven’s vocals are really great. He just doesn’t give a fuck. In the lyrically rewarding, musically trying title track, Raven starts with a lamenting tone (of course, I mean, he’s going back to OHIO) that , as the 13+ minute blues dirge marches on, turns into a howling, grunting psychopath screaming for a release only death (or some really pure heroin) can bring.

Frontover2007.jpgFrontcover from the 2007 issue

On the afore mentioned ‘Can’t You See’, Raven sings pretty well on the main vocal, but follows that up with a backing track where he’s so fucked up, he’s Raven01.jpgoff time and slurring. It’s GREAT!

In keeping a policy of honesty, I’ll say that the third track doesn’t hold up to the rest of the album, but just musically. The lyrics are still crazy.

Of course, like everyone else, Raven has a myspace page which held a surprise even bigger than the fact that he’s not dead or in jail: His track ‘Asshole 2007 EDIT’ is a solo guitar piece that has far more in common Keiji Haino than Jeff Beck! No shit! Also, homeboy has vinyl for sale and will sign that shit! (MarsHottentot)

After he finished his damaged-biker Back to Ohio Blues LP in 1975, the man known as Raven gave away most of the few hundred copies that were pressed. The little-heard album was both of its time and timeless. Today, after it’s reached a wider audience, mostly via word of mouth and the internet, it seems to hold an ethereal psychic influence over all the great lo-fi stoner music that’s emanated during the past 30 years from Raven’s hometown of Columbus, Ohio. (discogs.com)


Raven (guitar, vocals)
unknown musicians on  bass and drums


01. Can’t You See 5.08
02. Raven Mad Jam 8.18
03. Don’t You Feel 4.57
04. War With My Soul 3.29
05. Back To Ohio Blues 13.25

All songs written by Raven



OriginalBackCover1975Original backcover from 1975