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Favourite Album Reviews
Marvin Gardens was a San Francisco band whose peers were Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead They rode on the crest of a wild wave for two years in the late ‘60s but were soon forgotten until a group of loyal fans and archivists banded together to bring back the goods.
‘1968’ features nineteen tracks and a colourful 32-page booklet. The product will include original artwork by Larry Welz. The vinyl will include a 24-page booklet and download card.
Besides lead singer, Carol Duke, the band members were Fred Waxler on guitars and clarinet; Tim Hazen on Hammond organ, piano, guitars and mandolin; Dave Ray Costuros, on drums, vocals and trumpet and Michel Undner on bass. The songs benefit greatly from these diverse instruments.
Lead singer Carol Duke sounds slightly grainy, terribly sweet and very representative of the San Francisco folk culture on the first cut, ‘Down the Line’. On ‘Titanic’, a dynamite kazoo solo and vigorous washboard add tons of sparkle to an already tongue-in-cheek ditty. Duke merrily chants, “Titanic go ‘round the curve/Ran into a big iceberg."
‘Close The Door Lightly’ features Duke’s heavenly soprano. “Who was the one who stole my mind?/Who was the one who made me feel unkind?” She finally concludes: “So fare thee well, sweet love of mine.” This heartbreak song is delightfully well-structured and lovingly conveyed.
‘Duncan and Brady’ features vivacious organ and an all-too-familiar story about working too hard for one’s own good. ’97 Men’ is super playful and features Duke’s most confident performance. After all, she has to coolly remind her guy that if he doesn’t please her, 97 others certainly will. And besides, she and her sweetheart are flirting dangerously close to his mum.
“Don’t call me honey while your mother’s around/You’re gonna land us in jail…”
‘Whips and Leathers’ raises the bar on adult topics, but it’s balanced out with clanky cowbell and Duke’s flair for levity.
When ‘Down the Line’ is reprised, Duke croons like Buddy Holly and wails like Grace Slick. ‘Ananias’ starts out bluesy and raw and morphs into a blistering barrage of fusion. Terrific organ and impassioned lead vocals abound.
The rest of the CD centres around a live concert at The Matrix. It begins with a short dedication and follows with the unbridled energy of ‘Gloryland,’ which is delivered with a truckload of sarcasm.
‘I Know You Rider’ features smoking drums and screeching organ and continues with a lush, melodic electric guitar solo. Duke performs ‘Baltimore Oriole’ with heart and passion; it’s the most exciting and explosive vocal on the CD.
Several songs are repeated, such as ‘Titanic’ and ‘Duncan and Brady’,but however, since there’s not much audience reaction, it’s hard to understand why they’re included again. That said, this version of ‘Duncan and Brady’ is more exciting and brassy than the former.
‘Richland Woman Blues’ suffers from a much-too-busy arrangement, but ‘The Whisper Song’ is wildly entertaining and packed with surprises. ‘Have A Drink on Me’ definitely brings out the enthuse of the audience and makes us understand why it was included on the live portion.
Their swan song, ‘Goodnight Ladies’ is super short, but hilariously executed.
Commenting On: 1968 - Marvin Gardens
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In our 'Re:View' section, Lisa Torem examines lost San Francisco psychedelic band Marvin Gardens just released album, which consists of almost their full catalogue of both studio and live recordings
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