Saturday, May 17, 2008
Here's another great album I managed to find on DC++. The following notes were included with the download:
LOUD. Very LOUD. Louder than Blue Cheer, who were louder than god.Chris Lockheed of Kak helped ex-Blue Cheer guitarist Randy Holden on the above album, which is an extension of the proto-metal direction he explored on Side Two of the third Blue Cheer album, New! Improved!. Probably because Holden plays all the music himself, the album sounds rather one-dimensional and sparse. It certainly isn't the best record that he's played on, but it's by far the rarest, and is still highly sought-after. The stories which have circulated for years, about it being withdrawn from the market immediately after release, are probably accurate. It is still held in high regard by collectors of primitive heavy rock, and copies were changing hands for hundreds of dollars over twenty years ago.
Holden had earlier played with The Fender IV, Sons Of Adam, The Other Half and Blue Cheer. His early works have been compiled on the CD, Randy Holden Early Works '64-'66: The Fender IV, Sons Of Adam (Captain Trip Records) 1997. It includes both of The Sons Of Adams' 45s for Decca plus three previously unreleased cuts, Without Love, I Told You Once Before and You Make Me Feel Good. It also includes the two 45s for Imperial by The Fender IV plus two previously unreleased tracks, Highway Surfer and Little Ollie.
One year after his departure from Blue Cheer, Randy Holden released this solo album accompanied only by ex-Kak drummer, Chris Lockheed on drums. And until the original master tapes surface and “Population II” gets reissued for real, one must be content with a recording level a little less coherent than “Metallic K.O.” But despite its total lack of fidelity, one thing it still has going strong in the mix is Holden’s lead guitar blasting out relentlessly from the curtain of his Sunn amplifier cabinets, as pictured on the back cover. I count 16 in this photo, but there were probably more. I mean, Holden had to rent an opera house in order to just rehearse, as each speaker could handle 200 watts. However many were fit into the confines of Amigo Studios, the very same studio Blue Cheer had recorded “New! Improved!” with Holden in tow (well, for half an album’s worth, anyway*) is anybody’s guess. But there were enough to make it… LOUD. Very LOUD. Louder than Blue Cheer, who were louder than god.
But Population II were gods one louder: a Power Duo with their amplifiers set at eleven. What we hear is a little under a half an hour’s worth of Holden’s super-slowed and heavy guitar riffing/wailing/soaring. The pure sludge of it will cause cracks in your ceiling, all the windows of your room, the sky itself and possibly even your brain. It’s almost as though Holden is trying to make his drummer sense his purpose is futile and bolt the studio door to leave him alone to continue his deafening work as it dwarfs everything in its path as guitar solo upon guitar solo reduce Lockheed’s drumming to function more as punched pillows in the background. And Holden’s volcanic eruptions continue as slow as molasses and fiery as lava, spewing forth a barrage to drown out even the caterwauling-ness of his own vocals…not to mention his rhythm and bass guitar tracks.
It’s a telling sign that the album’s opener is entitled “Guitar Song”, for this is a man truly in love with his guitar. He loves it so much, it rivals his own vocal lyrics as more a voice-over (or rather, ‘voice-under’ as it’s buried by a couple hundred decibels of guitar) that scream (although by comparison to the lead guitar, is a microscopic whisper in comparison): “I pierce the air with pain -- AND LOVE!!!” as the guitar lines crawl and wriggle while roaring out at top volume simultaneously.
“Fruit & Iceburgs” (sic) is one of the three tracks Holden wrote and played on for Blue Cheer’s “New! Improved!” album*. It’s far bettered here -- far more unrestrained, and much darker and with a psychotic introductory solo that is all vibrato, sustaino and a thousand dead souls howling in the wind akin to the death lament sustain Iommi shakes out at the very end of “Children of The Grave”. A brief track called “Between Time” divides “Fruit & Iceburgs” into two parts and sees the drums getting a bit more audible. It’s also the only place where the tempo swings up by half a notch in tempo, with plenty of vocal punctuation from Holden who coaxing his guitar into a bitching bump and grind as though to give Daddy more sugar as he soars off on the (probably all too) tangible wings of volume. “Fruit & Iceburgs (Conclusion)” fades back in and although it is really just the coda, it takes them little over a minute to end it with drum fills and shrieking sustain of infinity (Playing at a volume as high and long as Population II did must have altered their biochemistry to some degree, and the deliberate volume abuse must have caused their perception of time to slow).
The second side offers more of Holden roaring out at top volume and minimum speed with guitar lines that seem more a barometer of his soul than mere riffs, flowing together like trains of thought constantly converging and splitting apart. “Blue My Mind” has a feel like a far more damaged “Had To Cry Today” by Blind Faith played far heavier, doomier and slower. A wordless chorus almost tries to hurry up the pace of the main theme, but no way -- this is Holden’s experimental journey, and getting there is more important than the destination. “Keeper of The Flame” starts off with a tom-tom pattern from Lockheed that gets practically wiped out by Holden’s sudden departure from Population II’s speed limit: He’s now really kicking up speed and letting loose, with slurred accenting up and down the neck. He then starts wah-wahing and soloing with expertly felt tone and sustain. One short break and feedback flourish sets the stage for the emergence of the ultimate “Population II” riff: one whose tail AND scrotum dragging-ness is of the s-l-o-w-e-s-t order. It’s so slow it’s on the verge of heading back in time. And it’s so heavy it’s off on a forced march to armageddon with attached lead weights.
Year of Release: 1970
Genre: Instrumental, Metal
1. Guitar Song
2. Fruit & Iceburgs
3. Between Time
4. Fruit & Iceburgs (Conclusion)
5. Blue My Mind
6. Keeper Of The Flame
Bonus Tracks (From "Guitar God" Album 1996)
7. Dark Eyes
8. Wild Fire
9. Scarlet Rose
10. Pain in My Heart
11. Hell And High Water
12. No Trace
13. Got Love
14. Blue My Mind
Download: Randy Holden - Population II
Download Size: 74MB