Home Read Albums Of The Week: John Braheny | Some Kind Of Change

Albums Of The Week: John Braheny | Some Kind Of Change

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:John Braheny’s rare Some Kind Of Change LP — issued on the small Pete label out of Los Angeles in 1968 — has the unusual distinction of existing like a psychedelic skeleton in his closet. He never made another record; this one is still largely under the radar even for long-time deep divers into buried treasure from the vintage ‘60s era.

Braheny actually became quite famous behind the scenes in the songwriting and music biz as the top-dog L.A. songwriting coach for people like Lindsay Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Warren Zevon, Janis Ian, Stephen Bishop and countless others — including one of the most successful hit songwriters of all time, Diane Warren, for whom he critiqued 150 songs when she was 15 years old. You gotta wonder if he played his LP for any of them back in the day or hid it away, since it is pretty far-out underground stuff — perhaps too far out if your life’s work is steering budding songwriters towards the top of the charts. It is a full-on psychedelic classic, every track a winner, with an unusual blend of earthy folk rock veering off into otherworldly atmospheres. Though not a concept album, it hangs together like a journey, the psychedelia peaking with an epic extended final track in classic late ’60s underground mind-expansion style.

Braheny was born in Iowa on Dec. 9, 1938, first appearing on the early ’60s L.A. folk scene and gigging around the circuit out west. There is easily findable video of him on the internet performing live in Vancouver in 1965 if you wanna hear him before the psychedelics kicked in. One of the remarkable things about the LP is that he also produced it, indicating no compromise in getting what was in his head captured on tape the way he wanted it. His arrangements are elaborate, bursting with creativity without losing focus, the songs are warm and human at the core with his innovative use of electronics and effects taking them to uncanny places. He’s a proto singer-songwriter foreshadowing the emergence of that L.A. scene via a side trip through the Twilight Zone. Familiar and mysterious simultaneously.

The players on the album include Rick Cunha on guitar and help with production. Lisa Kindred on backing vocals came out of the folk scene and is best known for the LP she made with notorious cult leader Mel Lyman in 1969. Bass, drums, trombone, trumpet are provided by session musicians with backgrounds in West Coast jazz. Don Waldron on tuba is an unusual credit for a psychedelic LP, but he also appears on albums by Frank Zappa, Dr. John and It’s A Beautiful Day. One of the two bassists is Colin Cameron, who also appears on the rare psychedelic Richard Twice LP. Braheny plays guitar, violin, does the lead vocals and the way-out experimental electronics that kick this record into a higher key.

John’s first visibility as a songwriter in the world at large came with his song December Dream, the opening track on the Stone Poneys with Linda Ronstadt LP Evergreen Vol. 2, also issued in 1968. Soon after, he founded the Los Angeles Songwriters Showcase with Len Chandler, published the Songwriters Musepaper, did radio on KPFK, and wrote what is considered the ‘songwriter’s bible’ — The Craft And Business Of Songwriting. It is still in print. He was known around the biz as “the songwriter’s best friend” and Some Kind Of Change was merely a footnote in his career. The arc is long but this arrow flies higher than ever 56 years on!”