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14 Nov 2016

Stone Garden “Stone Garden” 1969-71 US Heavy Psych Acid Rock























Stone Garden “Stone Garden” 1969-71 US Heavy Psych Acid Rock first release Rockadelic Records 1998  highly recommended…!
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One of the most exciting finds of the recent years is this previously unreleased album from 1967 by this obscure US psychedelic band, recorded around the same time of their ultra-rare Common Attitude’ 45, (famous for appearing on the Alien, Psychos & Wild Things comp). 

Leaded by the great Richard Orange, Thomas Edisun played Beatlesque, psychedelic-pop / proto power-pop of the highest order with amazing songs and incredible harmony vocals. 

Stone Garden were a heavy psychedelic band from the Midwest, famous releasing in 1969 one of the best heavy-psych 45s ever, “Oceans inside me”, for the same label as the legendary Fraction (Angelus). Between 1969 and 1971 they also recorded a bunch of tracks which never saw the light of day until the mid-90s, when the great Rockadelic label issued them in a limited edition vinyl album. Out of print for many years, we present a new edition of the Stone Garden album featuring new artwork and insert with lot of pictures and liner notes. 
Furious, ultra-primitive hard-psychedelic rock in Sabbath and Blue Cheer vein, highly recommended to anyone into obscure 70s doom and hard-rock sounds……. .. 

The Stone Garden’s journey began in Lewiston, Idaho in the early 1960’s when my brothers and I developed a strong interest in playing music. This interest was fueled in great part to our parent’s existing talent for playing organ and piano. Little did they realize the Pandora’s Box that was to open shortly after starting our music lessons in grade school. Gary and I took up guitar and Neal, drums and piano. 

Dad built us dreadful sounding amplifiers from old stereo gear, but they were large and after all, we were little kids and not exactly child prodigies. Christened “The Three Dimensions,” we began our years of vibrating the house and irritating the neighbors with our band practices. Our first paid gig was a major event in my life and set its course from that day forward. A neighbor kid who knew we had a band convinced the local Am radio station, KRLC, to hire us to play at a “Swim and Dance Party” at the city pool. It was a huge success and besides looking cool in front of our friends and all the girls, we came home with $65.00; serious money for kids that were not quite teenagers. 

Dan Merrell, a classmate from junior high school, joined the band as our full time bass player. Now a quartet, a new name was necessary. Complete with English style ruffled shirts, we became the “Knights of Sound. ” Our first studio recording, “The World is Coming to an End,” was made in 1965 in Doug Smith’s basement facility in Clarkston, Washington. We were starting to play regularly around Lewiston and attracted the interest of Don Tunnell, a former bass player and now aspiring manager. 

Since no one else was offering to make us stars, we thought that was a great opportunity to climb another rung on the ladder of success. Besides that, he lived only a block away and was old enough to buy beer. Don gets the credit for renaming us “Stone Garden” in 1967 when flower power made its impact on the world. He got the idea from a psychedelic poster of the same name and to make sure we weren’t infringing on anyone, I secured permission from the publisher for us to use the name. Our hair started getting longer and the ruffled shirts were traded in for Nehru jackets. Yeah, we were hip now. 

Besides always doing a few tunes of our own creation, our repertoire consisted of music from the greats of the time: Doors, Hendrix. Cream, Beatles, Creedence. We became a well-known group in the Pacific Northwest and often traveled to play teen dances in Seattle, Portland, Northern California, British Columbia, and Montana. John Purviance, a talented multi-instrumentalist, joined us in 1969 and brought new colors to our sound for the next year. By this time, Doug Smith had a new basement studio with lots more cool gear and convinced us to record a 45. He recorded the two songs, had 300 singles pressed, and only charged us $300.00! It actually received a fair amount of air play and did a lot for the band’s notoriety. 

Chris Adams, a disc jockey at KRLC, was a big supporter of the band and felt we could make improvements to the music by re-recording “Oceans,” so we booked time at Ripcord Studios in Vancouver, Washington, a professional 8-track facility. We didn’t end up releasing the material recorded there but it was an important experience for us and I am glad to see the music from those sessions included on this compact disc. In the fall of 1969, Gary left Lewiston and the band to attend college. Russ Pratt was the organ player and lead singer/songwriter of a group from a small town near Lewiston and we persuaded him to replace Gary. 

That incarnation lasted only a little more than a year but Russ’s vocals and organ textures took the band in an inspiring creative direction. Russ, Dan, and I graduated from high school in 1970 and with that event, major changes occurred. Russ and Dan left the group so Neal and I recruited Charles Weisgerber from another local band to play bass and Rand Harrison, a student at the University of Idaho, to sing lead and play keyboards. 

The chemistry with Rand never jelled and Gary rejoined the band in 1971. Feeling that we were limited by remaining in Lewiston, we moved to Seattle and brought into fold fellow Lewistonian David Lee on electric piano and vocals. Charles returned home after awhile and was replaced by John Helton of Moscow, Idaho to complete the lineup of the last incarnation. The group broke up in early 1972 and in those last days we were known as the Speer Brothers Band, but it really was the continuing legacy of the Stone Garden. 

Everyone continued in music in either a full or part time capacity. I have been fortunate to have a career as a recording artist, record producer, and studio owner. Regrettably, Dan was killed by a hit and run driver in 1972 and Gary died in 1994. This compact disc is dedicated to their memories. 
by Paul Speer…….. 

Stone Garden hailed from a state one could assume was among the last touched by the chemical stimulant-inspired revolution in rock music in the ‘60s. But you wouldn’t be able to tell that from Stone Garden. Cobbled together from live and studio recordings made between 1969 and 1971, the reissue collects virtually every available note by the pack of Idaho teens, including both sides of their lone, extremely rare 45 (“Oceans Inside Me”/“Stop My Thinking”). Aside from that single, all the tracks remained unreleased until appearing as a superbly packaged 1998 Rockadelic LP, reproduced in its entirety on this Gear Fab CD. 

So is it worth all the archival fuss? Mostly, yes, it really is. Stone Garden is an always blistering and often thrilling racket that splits the difference between the plundering depths of hard rock and the mind-excursion highs of psychedelia (or, more precisely, acid rock), carving out a nifty Western patch of its own. A heady trick for a group of boys from the potato state in the year of Woodstock, and, if dated in minor ways, still body-rattling music decades after the fact. 

There is some dense riffage (the re-recorded version of “Oceans,” “It’s a Beautiful Day,” an awesome “Woodstick”) that comes as close to proto-heavy metal shredding as anything else recorded in or around 1969 (that includes Steppenwolf, Black Sabbath, Iron Butterfly, and Blue Cheer), and the band had both an affinity and knack for scintillating, dual-guitar electric blues (“Stop My Thinking”), although the album’s sole outright misstep, “SF Policeman Blues,” apes early Grateful Dead a little too closely. 

But there is plenty of consciousness-expanding, detail-intriguing, and ominous melodic shifts, nifty but queasy coats of echo, Zappa-esque avant-garde effects (“Bastard”), and surprisingly mature and hip lyrics – even if the performances are not exactly nuanced. Subtle Stone Garden was not. But the music can cut you off at the knees and knock the wind out of you, which is pretty impressive stuff…..by…Stanton Swihart / All Music….. 

Popular title on the Rockadelic label and clearly above average transition document from late 60s S F Bay Area eclectisism into crude Northwest hardrock. The band was once thought to be an early version of Fraction which is not true, although their 45 (on Fraction’s label) packs a similar intensity and is present here in two versions, both excellent. The LP is enjoyable all through with highpoint in a couple of hard guitarpsych excursions on side 2, and the band shows more talent and variation than the standard basement outfits from the era. Extra points for obvious teen psych remains, and even the goodtimey track about being busted for pot in S F is agreeable. One of the best of the label’s more recent releases. Very nice gatefold packaging although the Stonehendge image may remind some of “Spinal Tap”. (Acid Archives)….. 


The Stone Garden 
*Gary Speer - Lead and rhythm guitar and lead vocals. 
*Paul Speer - Lead guitar 
*Neal Speer - Drums and vocals 
*Dan Merrell - Bass guitar and vocals 
*John Helton - Bass guitar 
*David Lee - Keyboards and vocals 

Tracklist 
Oceans Inside Me 2:33 
It’s A Beautiful Day 3:28 
The World Is Coming To An End 2:31 
Bastard 6:02 
Da Da Da Da Da 3:32 
Stop My Thinking (45) 2:15 
Assembly Line 3:27 
Woodstick 8:22 
San Francisco Policeman Blues 4:25 
Oceans Inside Me (45) 2:35 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..

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