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25 Mar 2017

Black Orchids "Awol" 1974 US Private Hard Rock,Heavy Psych

Black Orchids "Awol" 1974 US Private Hard Rock,Heavy Psych

Black Orchids hailed from Charleston, West Virginia and consisted of the power trio of Rob Hamer (guitar), John Wehde (bass), and Paul Bennington (drums). In 1974 they pressed AWOL, their sole output, on their own Black Orchids Records label in a tiny edition of 200 copies. This psychedelic hard rock album came in a plain white sleeve, shrinkwrapped. The album consists of one live track "AWOL" which was recorded live and being over 29 minutes long was spread over the two sides of the LP. For the most part the music is a heavy blues jam with many tempo changes and plenty of feedback...............

That's the music which has an overwhelming hypnotic power over me - at the first sound of roaring guitars and thundering drums I turn into an imbecile with uncontrolled moronic smile, and the time gates open again: the bald patch is smaller, the hair is thicker and longer, we can change the world and hard rock is newly found gospel...
The Black Orchids suddenly stepped out of oblivion and ashes to claim their rightful place in the first ranks of rock music. There is no justice in this world, because so little is known about this outfit (at least to me). The information available comes from two sources mainly: (a)handwritten notes on paper sleeve of two (or three?) LPs sold on eBay (that's where the confusion starts, because the unfound details, repeated ad nauseam on the Net , come from eBay descriptions); (b)omnipotent Vernon Joynson - Fuzz Acid and Flowers Revisited.
Music of Black Orchids was based on dead sure formula of heavy distorted fuzz and suicidal drumming, it is primeval and brutal American hard rock of crudest and loudest kind (but not without poetry and refined solos). In brief, its legacy lays not with meditative and dreamy Hendrix, but with rough and raw Gun, Mountain and Grand Funk.
The sound? The only existing album was recorded in 1972 in home studio, without any niceties - it was recorded live, most probably as demo. 200 copies or so were released as private pressing. Obviously, one of the existing vinyls was converted directly into the CD (not master tapes), thus the quality - it is not great, but I've heard worse. The band plays NOT ONE lengthy track - at least ten or twelve different compositions (a first year student of musical college can tell better). The performing is not on the same level - some pieces are sure and tight, while others sound like rehearsal.

This power trio came from Charleston, West Virginia, and was formed originally by John Wherle (guitar) and Robin Throwbridge (drums) in 1970 as two-man outfit - a rare, but not unheard of,
combination. The same year they were joined by Joe Stevens (replaced later by Rob Hamer) on bass for the first Earth Day Festival. The band played original compositions (except Yellow Cab Man by Gun - Gun). They lasted until 1974, and nothing else is known - which I do not believe, and don't want to accept. Someone somewhere should remember something, because a hard rock outfit of talent and potential (huge!) couldn't just vanish without leaving any traces.
Finally, they do deserve (even posthumously) a legitimate CD with a proper leaflet.............ByGolovanov Alexey.....................

A limited private pressing issued in a plain white sleeve, made for fans and friends of the band. The music is reputedly psych with long guitar solos. The band were formed by John Wherle and Robin Trowbridge in Charleston, West Virginia in 1970, and recorded the album in John Wherle's basement studio.

Robb Trowbridge: "A friend, Jack Griffith told me that John Wherle was looking for a drummer for a two man band. I took my drums over to his house and after months of practice, and I mean months, we had Black Orchids. We had to perfect a type of sound because we were just a two man band. Guitar and drums. John developed a style he called subharmonics, which used a type of dreamy open string chords. Joe Stevens came along when we played the Earth Day Festival in 1970, at Kanawha State Forest with many other bands. John and I felt we could get a bigger sound with the added bass. All our songs were written by ourselves except a cover of Yellow Cab Man by Gun and they were all instrumentals".
Black Orchids hailed from Charleston, West Virginia and consisted of John Wehde, Rob Hamer and Paul Bennington. In 1972 they pressed “AWOL”, their sole output, on their own Black Orchids Records label in a tiny edition of 200 copies. The album came in a plain white sleeve, shrinkwrapped with the title and band info written on the outside of the shrink with a marker pen. You can imagine how many of these survived intact! The album consists of one track “AWOL” which was recorded live and being 29 minutes long was spread over the two sides of the LP. This CD version has the track rejoined as one continuous piece................

This trio operated out of Charleston, W.V. There only LP seems to have been recorded circa 1972, and committed to vinyl in 1974. Privately pressed in a micro-quantity of not more than 200 copies, most, though not all, were sold at live performances, local record outlets, and via mail order. Others were given away to friends, or sent out as promos. Of the copies that were sold, all were shrink wrapped in plain white covers, with the pertinent info such as artist name and album title, personnel, etc, hand written on the shrink wrap in felt tip marker. Few, if any, copies with this info intact have survived, as most listeners discard shrink wrap, coupled with the fact that marker easily wears off shrink wrap through normal handling. The cover image for this entry is of my own personal copy. The info on this cover is intact because this was a promo copy, sent to radio station WRTI in Phila., PA. in Dec, 1975, and therefor, not shrink wrapped. The hand written info was applied directly to the plain white cover in the same format as that used on the shrink wrapped copies, and remains one of few examples of this original cover. The music director had the foresight to attach the original type-written letter that was sent with the album to the back of the cover. It was sent, and signed by guitarist John Wehrle. In the letter, he claims influences of a whole host of diverse sources, many of which embraced improvisation to a high degree. Indeed, the single track included on the LP, which is broken into parts 1 & 2, and spanning both sides of the album, sounds like one long guitar improvisation. Due to it's extreme length, and relative lack of diversity, it can become somewhat tedious at times. But on the whole, it is an interesting composition, and worthy of investigation by underground fans. Grades - 2 B's (parts 1 & 2). Originally released on their own Black Orchids Records ........


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