Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Charlatans - Sidetrack

With the exception of the 45 RPM release of '32-20 Blues' b/w 'The Shadow Knows', the great 1966 recordings of San Francisco's Charlatans remained unreleased until (French label Eva) released this (probably unauthorized) LP sometime in the 1980's. These tracks were recorded for the Kama Sutra label and rejected.

Sloppy but spirited, The Charlatans were the quintessential harbingers of the San Francisco sound and even their time spent holed up as the house band at The Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City, NV (starting in June of '65) never brought them up to any level of what was considered professionalism or tightness. Didn't help matters that the band dosed themselves with copious amounts of LSD before taking the stage, I reckon. In fact, this loose spirit is what drove the San Francisco scene! While (my beloved) Beau Brummels were the first San Francisco rock n roll band to have hits, their professionalism alientaed them from the incoming ballroom scene. I saw a reformed Charlatans perform in 2005 at the Chet Helms Memorial in Golden Gate Park; at times it sounded like the band was playing two different songs at once, but one couldn't help but smile at the spirit and fun that was coming off of the stage!

The Charlatans also helped usher in the type of vintage Victorian era clothing that became a staple of the SF scene. A little known fact is that this clothing was brought to popularity by John Lundberg of Berkeley; Mr Lundberg ran a highly influential music store, and (as a collector of vintage clothing himself) decided to start selling some of the gear in his store, creating a flurry of demand for these styles.

Probably the most full on rockin' track on the LP, 'Sidetrack' finds vocalist Lynn Greene joining the fellas to great results. The song essentially re-writes the blues standard 'Rollin' And Tumblin'' (originally recorded by Hambone Willie Newbern but made famous by Muddy Waters) updating it for the oncoming era of free love.

Also of note on this LP is the massive droning epic 'Alabama Bound'.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Derek,for returning to blogging,as you have been missed...this is a great choice for your first post here,this song is somewhat of a precursor to southern fried rock that came about in the early 70s,mixing blues and country in a fast paced track! Can't wait to catch your next post!