Sunday, May 05, 2019

The Insect Trust - Selftitled (American Hippie-Rock US 1968)

Size: 106 MB
Bitrate: 320
Ripped by ChrisGoesRock
Artwork Included
Source: 24-Bit Remaster

The Insect Trust was an American based rock band that formed in New York in 1967.

The members of the band were Nancy Jeffries on vocals, Bill Barth on guitar, Luke Faust, formerly of the Holy Modal Rounders, on guitar, banjo, fiddle, and harmonica, Trevor Koehler on saxophone, and Robert Palmer (1945–1997) on clarinet and alto saxophone. 

Elvin Jones and Bernard Purdie both drummed with the group at times. Bill Falwell on bass and trumpet and Warren Gardner on trumpet and clarinet were part of the band by the time they recorded their second album.

According to The New York Times, the band took its name from William S. Burroughs's novel Naked Lunch, detailing a race of giant insects bent on world domination. However, according to Bill Barth, the name came from the poetry journal Insect Trust Gazette, published by William Levy. Levy took the name from Burroughs, Warren Gardner then gave it to the band.

One of the more interesting one-shot bands in rock & roll, the Insect Trust's most famous member was writer/critic/ethnomusicologist Robert Palmer, who played alto sax and clarinet. Less famous, but still a notable member, was guitarist/songwriter Luke Faust, who went on to add creative input for the Holy Modal Rounders' string of wonderful early- to mid-'70s records. 

The Insect Trust released two albums, their self-titled 1968 debut on Capitol, and their second and final LP, Hoboken Saturday Night. Along with the loose-limbed music, Hoboken Saturday Night features musical contributions by heavy hitters (no pun intended) such as drummers Elvin Jones and Bernard "Pretty" Purdie, guitarist Hugh McCracken, and novelist Thomas Pynchon. 

The music ranges from surreal folk-rock (à la the Holy Modal Rounders and Fugs), to Booker T.-like pop-soul, to flat-out free jazz. Decades after its release, Hoboken Saturday Night sounds a bit dated, but its charm is irresistible, especially when Nancy Jefferies sings and the band cranks up its raucous onslaught of reeds and percussion. Never intended to be a traditional pop act, the Insect Trust should be best remembered for extending rock's boundaries and taking the genre to a much hipper level without resorting to a lot of banal technique. Good luck locating their records.

Back in the '60s, most white blues fans trying to play the music took the approach of struggling to sound as serious and authentic as possible, and a big part of the charm of the Insect Trust's debut album is that, by accident or design, they went in an entirely different direction. 

While the Insect Trust were clearly and affectionately influenced by classic blues and folk, they were also eager to mess around with it, and Robert Palmer and Trevor Koehler's horns and woodwinds often throw this music into a loopy, atonal, and acid-infused direction while the loose, slightly rickety sound of Bill Barth and Luke Faust's guitars and banjos honors the styles found on vintage 78s just as their rock-oriented chops keep the results from sounding as if they spent much time actually learning the original riffs. 

Given the loose but insistent backporch funk of this music -- perhaps held in place by guest musicians Bernard Purdie, Hugh McCracken, and Chuck Rainey -- the sweet tone of Nancy Jeffries' vocals seems a bit out of place, but she never seems less than committed, and she gives "World War I Song" and "Declaration of Independence" a full-bodied reading that fits their meaning, if they don't sound especially "bluesy." 

And the final two cuts, "Mountain Song" and "Going Home," take off into a never-never land of pastoral avant-garde whimsy that exists in a world all its own. The Insect Trust refined their worldview on their second, last, and finest album, 1970's Hoboken Saturday Night, but their debut has more than its fair share of lovely moments and is an engaging example of roots music fans letting their freak flag fly with righteous joy.

The Band:
Bill Barth - Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Knife Guitar, Bottleneck Guitar,       Swiss Warbler, Percussion.
 Bob Palmer - Alto Sac, Alto & Soprano Recorders, Clarinet, Percussion.
 Trevor Koehler - Baritone Sax, Piccolo, Sewer Drum, Thumb Piano, Upright       Bass.
 Nancy Jeffries - Vocal Percussion.
 Luke Faust - Banjo, Banjo Guitar, Vocals, Percussion.
 (Special Thanks: "Steve Dubuff - Conga Drums, other Percussion, & Electric         Nail Biting." Electric Bass is also present)

01. The Skin Game   04:07
02. Miss Fun City   05:04
03. World War I Song   03:18
04. Special Rider Blues   07:45
05. Foggy River Bridge Fly   01:07
06. Been Here and Gone so Soon   03:29
07. Declaration of Independence   02:30
08. Walking on Nails   03:12
09. Brighter Than Day   02:31
10. Mountain Song   02:49
11. Going Home   05:10

1. Insect Trust
2. Insect Trust
3. Insect Trust


Psychfan said...

Thank you Chris. This one is difficult in places but interesting.

Karl AceModrules Decaux said...

Thanks for sharing, Chris