"Electrical Banana, Bound to be the very next craze"
Whamo | San Clemente, California | 06/07/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"sang Donovan. It never happened. Musically, it happened, but as far as popularity goes, some categorize the Youngbloods, mistakenly, as one-hit wonders, a result of "Get Together" becoming a hippie anthem.
Make no mistake, the time in rock music history when "Elephant Mountain" was created was incredible. The Beatle's "Sgt. Pepper" pushed experimentation to the outer limits, inspiring Frank Zappa's masterpiece, "We're Only In It For the Money"; "Good Vibrations" by the Beachboy's Brian Wilson; "Satanic Majesties Request" by the Rolling Stones, and last, but not least, and perhaps the best, "Elephant Mountain" by the Youngbloods.
None of the Youngblood's other recordings approach it's level. Why? Banana went wild with a big recording budget -- that's why. Bless his soul for it. Banana, besides exploring sound like an astronaut in the studio, hired the best musicians in town, in the big city, in Los Angeles, where quite a few professional musicians hang their hat. Who did he get? Joe Clayton for the trumpet on "Smug"; tenor sax legend Plas Johnson for the end of "Beautiful"; David Lindley on fiddle (he's currently touring with Jackson Browne) on "Darkness, Darkness" ; and Victor Feldman on vibes for "Ride the Wind" and Banana conducted an 18-man studio ensemble.
The experimentation with sound? Remember, this was the time of Jimi Hendrix "Electric Ladyland" -- and Hendrix raised the stakes with feedback. Banana had a few tricks up his sleeve. Banana took ouput from and EQ unit and put it into another, and then took that output and put it into another, and in Banana's own words: "...made things real weird and distorted..." Don't think the engineers didn't object either. The producer, Charlie Daniels, kept the suits off Banana's back. The band, too, remember them, sprinkled brief streaks of melodic experimentation throughout the album. Banana wrote the music for this gem by hand with an old Wurliztzer elecric piano. When the album was done Banana climbed a mountain -- a real one.
What's the result? A dreamy, electric neon-lit jazzy, country, rock, and ragtime doze off to miracle, something unique, something different, and something to cherish.
I got to see this band, live, at their peak, at U.C. Davis. I even got to sit on the back of the stage. It was incredible. They played "Elephant Mountain" and a few other of their other usual suspects. Some of this other stuff isn't bad either. There's "Get Together", which everybody knows, but there's also "The Wine Song" and "Grizzly Bear" for example.