WHO ARE THEY? A California supergroup featuring former Blasters guitarist Dave Alvin, Camper Van Beethoven bassist Victor Krummenacher and multi-instrumentalist David Immergluck, along with session drummer Michael Jerome (who has played with everyone from Blind Boys of Alabama and Richard Thompson to John Cale) and special guest Jesse Sykes. But if you think they sound anything like their other bands, think again. You might be better off taking your cues from their name, which they share with a book by subversive junkie author William S. Burroughs.
WHAT IS THIS? Their fantastic and freewheeling self-titled debut album, which features just one original song and five deep-cut cover tunes dating back to the ’60s. Even more intriguing: “Using the Miles Davis technique, there were no rehearsals or written musical arrangements. Just decide on a key, start recording and see what happens,” says Alvin. “During the sessions we simply sat in a circle and looked and listened closely to each other as we made everything up live on the spot. We chose songs/compositions primarily identified with the 1960s underground scene as a tribute to the open-minded music of that period as well as to the fearless musicians like Alice Coltrane, Michael Bloomfield, Fred Neil and Roky Erickson, who helped create the sounds of the era.”
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? An amazing after-hours jam session between a crew of experienced, skilled and intuitive players and singers.
WHAT ARE THE MOST RELEVANT LYRICS? The one new song is an instrumental, but Roky Erickson’s lyrics from The 13th Floor Elevators’ Reverberation see to fit: “You see reverberation / In your latest incarnation / You think it’s a sensation / But it’s just reverberation.”
WHAT SHOULD IT BE TITLED? Making Up For Lost Time.
HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? With open ears and an expanded consciousness.
WHAT 10 WORDS SUM IT UP? Adventurous, unpredictable, unfettered, immediate, expansive, psychedelic, transcendent, intense, lively, collaborative.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? The intercontinental Butterfield Blues Band epic East/West and the Bonnie Dobson / Grateful Dead stunner Morning Dew (featuring Sykes on lead vocals).
WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS SAY? ‘This makes me feel like I should be out burning my draft card and helping to stage a protest march.’
HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO IT? Whenever you want something a little more challenging and satisfying than the usual jam-band junk.
IF THIS ALBUM WERE A VEHICLE, WHAT WOULD IT BE? An old Volkswagen boogie-van full of hippies driving down the PCH from Monterey to catch a music festival.
SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL IT? It’s worth the price just to free your mind.