Dino Valente (néChet Powers) is one of those enigmatic types in the footnotes of every third MOJO article dealing with the 60s, and it is plain that he had his fingers in a lot of pies both literally, and figuratively. However, to paraphrase Wayne Kramer’s description of Johnny Thunders in Legs McNeil’s “Please Kill Me,” he “…seemed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.” He wrote “Get Together,” popularized by The Youngbloods and played in every 60s TV/movie flashback scene, but he didn’t make a dime off of it because he sold the rights off to the Kingston Trio’s managers to beat a drug rap; he also had a hand in writing “Hey Joe,” somehow. He was going to be the focal point of Quicksilver Messenger Service, but he went to prison instead. He managed to piss off the CBS brass after signing a lucrative contract by phoning them repeatedly at 4 A.M. and telling them that they didn’t get where he was at.
The main show here, however, is not the man’s life story, but his solo release. His nasal voice, hippie dream poeticisms, and backing jazz instrumentation seems to drop in and out at will. Think Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks meets Tim Buckley’s Happy/Sad with the overtones of a Haight-Asbury hippie dude trying to put the make on a girl, and you’re getting close. Fred Neil is another obvious influence in terms of his 12-string and jazz inflected chording, and it’s no surprise that the both used to play together in Greenwich Village folk scene of the early 60s. Nevertheless, it’s a rewarding listen, especially in the context of the loner folk and DIY-ethic that predominates popular reissues from such labels as Numero Group, whose Wayfaring Strangers: Lonesome Heroes compilation serves as another touchstone. Continue reading →
Captain Marryat were a ’70s psych-prog band from Glasgow, Scotland, named after the 19th Century mariner and novelist Captain Frederick Marryat. In 1974, the group released a tiny pressing (200 copies) of their demo album on the Thor Label and sold it exclusively at their gigs around Scotland and its bordering towns. Having initially entered the studio with the intention of cutting only one track, the five-piece band wound up recording five tracks along with an improvised jam, titled “Dance of Thor.” With a sound that drew on the searing leads of Uriah Heep and the fuzzed out journeys of Deep Purple, Captain Marryatt attracted a sizeable following on the pub circuit. But, as the story goes time and time again, bigger labels like EMI and Chrysalis showed little interest, and the group vanished into obscurity some years after the demo’s release. Due to the limited pressing, the album later became an extreme rarity, eventually going for as much as £3,000 on eBay. However, in 2010 Shadoks reissued the original tracks with permission from the band, making this lost psych-prog classic available for all to hear.
Canadian psych-folk artist Elyse Weinberg emerged on the Toronto folk scene in the mid-’60s alongside contemporaries like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. During this time, Toronto’s Yorkville neighborhood was the Canadian equivalent of San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury or New York’s Greenwich Village–full of clubs, coffeehouses, experimental art galleries and bohemian boutiques–all contained within several city blocks. Mitchell, who made her name performing at Yorkville’s Riverboat Coffeehouse, wrote a tribute to Yorkville, titled “Night in the City,” and on Neil Young’s “Ambulance Blues,” he sings “back in those old folkie days, the Riverboat was rockin’ in the rain.”
Weinberg was also a notable figure on the scene, releasing her 1968 self-titled album to much success and going on to perform on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. But in subsequent years, she fell into obscurity and changed her name to Cori Bishop. In 2001, her music came to life once again when Orange Twin rereleased her debut album, along with two other of her songs from that era. One of these songs, “Houses,” features Neil Young wielding his distinctively ripping guitar sound on what is said to be the first recording on which he plays his legendary “Old Black.” In the aftermath of the rerelease, Vetiver and Dinosaur Jr. both covered “Houses.” Listen to “Houses” (featuring Neil Young) and Weinberg’s cover of the Bert Jansch penned “Deed I Do” below.