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Now Hear This: Blind Willie | Blind Willie

These long-forgotten Washington state longhairs might be one of the best ’70s rock outfits you've never heard — until now, thanks to this eye-opening compilation.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Blind Willie formed in Spokane in 1972 and featured guitar player Frank Trowbridge from hard-psych legends Sleepy John. They carved out a unique niche in the Northern Idaho/Eastern Washington rock scene in the early to mid-’70s, performing original music in a time when doing so wasn’t widespread for regional bands. Within weeks of the group’s formation, they commanded stages with a potent smattering of hard-rock, country-rock and psych.

The band’s history includes a brief courtship with The Doobie BrothersDave Shogren on bass, as well as major-label interest from Columbia and Epic Records. Here’s the first-ever release of their amazing studio demos, recorded in 1972 and ’74.

Blind Willie’s original lineup of Trowbridge, Craig Karp (guitar, vocals), Charlie Bieker (bass, guitar, vocals) and Jim Griffith (drums) is represented via slices of incendiary rock ’n’ roll pomp recorded on a four-track tape machine in a friend’s apartment in 1972. Live-in-the-studio tracks from 1974 feature later drummer Mike Garland and bassist Joe Johnson for a fiery radio set at Kaye-Smith Studios in Seattle.

These tracks navigate Blind Willie’s wide-ranging sonic explorations, anchored by formidable guitar-forward rockers that stand the test of time and hold up to any of the more well-known work of their peers from the ’70s. The band’s musical tributaries run deep, steeped in a spectrum of styles that range from hard blues-rock scorchers like the incendiary Georgia to heartfelt ballads (I’m Wondering If) and the upper echelons of sci-fi psych (Zolly, a comet ride through wah-wah geetar spacedust, replete with Rocky Horror cinematic sheen). It’s also easy to imagine songs like the choogle-heavy Somebody Help Me illuminating the vibe of parties, bars and theaters all over North America.”