Friday, 22 July 2016

Mount Rushmore - '69 & High On (Heavy-Blues-Rock US 1969)


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Mount Rushmore was a rock band in the late 1960s from San Francisco, California that played a heavy blues rock style with psychedelic elements.

The band formed in late 1966 at 1915 Oak Street, a large Victorian rooming house in the Haight-Ashbury district. In June and July 1967 they were featured on posters for shows at the Avalon Ballroom with other bands including the Quicksilver Messenger Service and Big Brother and the Holding Company. After some members including Phillips left for the band Phoenix in 1968, new members were added and the group made two albums.


Also-rans of the San Francisco psychedelic era, Mount Rushmore gigged frequently with fellow travelers Big Brother and the Holding Company, Canned Heat and Quicksilver Messenger Service, but this debut LP is evidence enough of why they aren't held in the same esteem. Mount Rushmore pumped out competent electric boogie with a boozy edge, but they coast on distortion and attitude rather than song craft or instrumental prowess, placing them firmly in the garage band tradition but not among the trendsetters that shared their bills. 

The brief liner notes introduce the band as self-proclaimed "country boys" who "dig to take their funky grey truck on the road," and they sound like hicks too, full of confidence and bluster but possessing only the simplest of skills. Opening a debut LP with Jimi Hendrix's "Stone Free" is a bold move and a curious choice, establishing the territory that the band will mine and exactly how they measure up to the gold standard (in Mount Rushmore's case, nowhere near). 


However, High On Mount Rushmore contains some tracks of interest to the dedicated psych-rock historian. "I Don't Believe In Statues" closes out side one and functions as a manifesto of sorts, an indignant outsider cry set to charging riffs that sound like an Amboy Dukes record warped by the sun. The ten-minute epic "Looking Back" scores highest in rock action, plus it features a crude but convincing space jam breakdown that boasts disoriented feedback, thunderstorm sound effects and random hippie banter floating through the atmosphere. The LP concludes with a taste of Mount Rushmore's live act, as a small but enthusiastic audience joins the band in the studio to encourage their hammier tendencies. The resultant medley includes "Dope Song," a jokey jug band-style marijuana anthem, a boneheaded, boisterous sing-along complete with kazoo and sure to irritate any hippie hater. 

High On suffers from tinny sonics that sap volume and tone and much of it sounds more like a demo than a finished album, but the low budget suits Mount Rushmore. In 2002, a European label called Lizard released a CD containing all of High On Mount Rushmore plus the sole follow up LP Mount Rushmore '69, but otherwise all of this obscure psych band's material has been difficult to find and not often sought out. Fans of The Up, Blue Cheer and other Aquarius Age punks might hear music in Mount Rushmore's clumsy jams, but a full-fledged renaissance is unlikely beyond a minority of collectors. FRED BELDIN

'69 Album
01.It's Just the Way I Feel (Glenn Smith) 4:35 
02.10:09 Blues (Glenn Smith) 5:53 
03.Toe Jam (Kimball, Fullerton, Bolan) 5:45 
04.V-8 Ford Blues (Willie Lowe) 2:35 
05.Love is the Reason (Dotzler, Phillips, Bolan, Levin, Esterlie) 3:55 
06.I'm Comin' Home (Glen Smith, Mike Bolan) 7:35 
07.King of Earrings (Warren B. Phillips) 4:00 
08.Somebody's Else's Games (Glenn Smith) 4:35

High On Album
09.Stone Free (Jimi Hendrix) 3:57 
10.Without No Smog (G. Smith, M. Bolan) 5:27 
11.Ocean (Warren B. Phillips) 4:07 
12.I Don't Believe in Statues (Warren B. Phillips) 4:08 
13.Looking Back (G. Smith, M. Bolan, T. Fullerton, T. Kimball) 9:40 
14.('Cause) She's So Good to Me (Bobby Womack) 3:35 
15.Medley: 7:23 
   Fannie Mae (B. Brown, M. Robinson) 
   Dope Song (G. Smith)

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2 comments:

becks dark said...

Thank you

JD Seid said...

Thanks for the awesome post. It is wonderful to discover and re-discover great music. Much appreciated.