18 February 2015
Former "Beat Of The Earth" and "Electronic Hole" leader "Phil Pearlman" assembled this band in the early seventies and eventually recorded this magnificent Rural Rock album in 1975. "Relatively Clean Rivers" (Pacific Is – PC 17601) album stands with the very best albums of the era, possessing a purely American sound and walking confidently past the shadow of its previous incarnation.
Although most often compared to "The Grateful Dead", only the record's first cut, "Easy Ride" really sounds much like them, with it's acoustic/electric guitar mix and "American Beauty" era vocal styles.
Production is great and the musicianship is stellar, so we don't really get much of that real people vibe prevalent in many other records with that rural feel, but this still more than holds up. There really is nothing else quite like this, and the smashed lysergic hippie trip present here is anything but a novelty. You can totally feel the desert here, and these folks never did wind up leaving.
Patrick Lundborg: But what sets this LP apart from a 1000 similar journeys along the Marin County-Topanga Canyon axis, and what I long failed to recognize, is that it isn't quite there either, but seems to observe the post-acid lifestyle from a third cardinal point, high up in the California desert. As you start hearing this contemplative desert mood the album reveals a deeper and rarer level, which could be be taken as a harmonious summing up of the whole psychedelic era, from the urban freakouts of 1967 through the "up the country" trend of the Woodstock years and into the quiet retreats of the mid-1970s communes, as told by one of the surviving believers. The LP is about not selling out, it projects a successful fulfilment of the original vision of the psychedelic 1960s. This isn't nostalgia, but the sense of looking back at an unchanged core from which a bigger world has grown. Psychedelia is still alive inside the music, subtly making its presence known via the recurring use of backwards tape effects, as well as the verse melody from the 1967 anthem "For what it's worth" being revisited on "They knew what to say".