Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mike & The Ravens - Nevermore (1958-2004)

Anytime you get a chance to tap into someone else's maniacal collection of anything - pinball machines, barbwire samples or, in this case, original garage-rock music, you're in for a treat. This 2-CD set (Bacchus Archives BA 11102 / 2005) chronicles the recordings of Michael Brassard and Stephen Blodgett as they worked their way through a number of East Coast '60 and '70s rock bands. The set opens with Brassard's 1958 debut on WDEV radio, playing and whistling his acoustic original "Rovin' and then proceeds through a full disc of early-60s frat-stompers, garage rock, doo-wop rooted ballads, surf-tinged guitar, and oddball studio freak-outs, all punctuated by bits of contemporaneous radio continuity. Unlike many garage rock comps, this isn't the sound of '65, it's the sound of '62. The British Invasion had yet to happen, and some of the country's rawest music was emanating from corners like Vermont. Michael Brassard, both before and with the Ravens, was apparently quite a sponge for musical styles, equally at home with twangy guitar rockers as with talking folk-blues. Using Plattsburgh, New York's Rollerland as a studio (where The Ravens waxed the skatetastic "Moonlight Couples Only"), Brassard and friends had the freedom to try just about anything that came to mind. The Ravens were a solid garage rock band in the Pacific Northwest vein, and Brassard and Blodgett wrote many catchy original songs. The second disc in this set moves from the garages of 1962 to the trippy sunshine pop of 1967. It's difficult to connect the two discs, as the second set's harmonies, string orchestrations, and psychedelic lyrics (e.g, "I Could Hear the Grass Growing") are more akin to the works of Gary Usher and Curt Boettcher than The Kingsmen styled work of Mike & The Ravens. Variously credited to Fire & Brimstone, The Camel's Hump, The Front Burner and others, the common thread is again Michael Brassard and his former Raven bandmate Stephen Blodgett, and like their earlier garage rock, they wrote many memorable original tunes. A more concise sampling of The Ravens finished garage rock sides can be found on Bacchus' companion single-disc volume, "Heart So Cold: The North Country '60s Scene." This 2-CD collection provides a view of the underlying studio catalog from which the commercially released sides were sprung. The evolution of Brassard and Blodgett, and their second wind of '60s psychedelia is all worth hearing. Disc two finishes out with pop, folk and country sides waxed from the '70s through 2004, showing the flame still burning. Sound quality on disc 1 is highly variable; disc 2 is more consistent mid-to-hi-fi. Both discs include generous helpings of previously unreleased works.
(review by Red Tunic Troll)

You can also check their website for further information.

- Rovin' • by Mike Brassard (1958)
- Dum Duvey • by Mike & The Throbs (1962)
- Git Home • by Mike & The Throbs (1962)
- Two-Ton Jenny • by Mike & The Throbs (1962)
- Mr. Heartbreak
- I've Taken All I Can
- Pete's Turkish Delight • by Peter Young & Brian Lyford
- Ballad of a Square • by Mike Brassard (1962)
- (Everybody's Goin' To) Rollerland
- Moonlight Couples Only
- No Man's Land
- Baby, Please Don't Leave Me • alternate take
- Biggest Fool Around
- One of These Days
- Like a Fire
- Can't You Feel the Pain • by The Ravens
- Riptide • by The Ravens
- I'll Get It from You • by The Ravens
- Goodbye to Mary Jane
- Living in a Dream • alternate take
- Oobie Doobie Do (Shake That Thing)

- Grey Eyes Watching • by Stephen Sargent & The Pride
- Underground • by Fire & Brimstone (1967)
- I Could Hear the Grass Growin' • by Fire & Brimstone
- Look • by The Camel's Hump (1969)
- Gotta Talk to You, Baby • by The Camel's Hump (1969)
- Birmingham • by The Camel's Hump (1969)
- Greyhound Bus • by Stephen Blodgett (1968)
- Tomorrow • by Mike Brassard & Bo Blodgett (1968)
- Lights of San Francisco • by The Front Burner (1971)
- Eldorado • by The Front Burner (1971)
- Gentle Wind • by Texas Drive (1973)
- Georgia Plains • by Texas Drive (1973)
- Truly (Christ's Lament) • by Texas Drive (1973)
- Lady • by Mike Brassard (1982)
- No More Beatle Songs • by Stephen Blodgett (1998)
- Motorboatin' • by Stephen Blodgett (1998)
- Adorable Gene • by Stephen Blodgett (1998)
- Motivatin' Blues • by Mike Brassard (2004)
- No Love to Give You
- Durham
- Teen Angel • by Stephen Blodgett & Bill Kinzie (1977)

Personnel [Mike & The Ravens]:
Mike Brassard (lead vcls) [ABC]
John "Bo" Blodgett (lead gtr) [AB]
Stephen Blodgett (rhythm gtr, vcls) [AB]
Eddie Jones (bs) [A]
Peter Young (drms) [AB]
Brian Lyford (bs) [B]
Bobby Lavigne (lead gtr) [C]
Jim Ricker (bs) [C]
Marc Chapman (drms) [C]

Band origin:
Northfield (Vermont/US)

1. Mr. Heartbreak/I've Taken All I Can (Empire E-1) 1962
2. Baby, Please Don't Leave Me/Biggest Fool Around
   (Empire E-2) 1962
3. Goodbye To Mary Jane/Living In A Dream
   (Empire E-3) 1963

Personnel incl. [Stephen Sargent & The Pride]:
Stephen Blodgett (gtr, vcls)
Chris Kiley (vcls)

Band origin:
Burlington (Vermont/US)

1. Grey Eyes Watching/Nobody's Child
   (Compass CO-7001) 1967

Personnel incl. [Fire & Brimstone]:
Mike Brassard (vcls)
Stephen Blodgett (gtr)

Band origin:
New York City (New York/US)

1. Underground/I Could Hear The Grass Growin'
   (Decca 32297) 1967

Get it here (Artwork included)

Listen to Mike & The Ravens: I've Taken All I Can

Listen to Fire & Brimstone: Underground


v said...

thank you !

michael vee said...

thanks a lot for sharing and best greetings from Italy

Anonymous said...

been looking for this! thanks a lot!

Frank M. Young said...

Thank you so much for this kind offering! I've tried and tried to actually BUY this darned CD, but no one in Seattle can be bothered to stock this!

UGLY THINGS magazine has a great multi-part series on this group's history. It's quite a story!