Glasgow three-piece Haight-Ashbury, named after the San Fran crossroads that witnessed the birth of the hippie movement and was at one point or another the place of residence of anyone who was anyone in the West Coast acid culture. I get chills just thinking about how stunningly righteous that place must have been for seven years between 65 and 72. We were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave, as HST communicated, it was a very special time on the west coast, heartbreakingly conveyed, it is the kind of high that never comes again. Many bands have attempted to close on that kind of acid sixties vibe; the supreme sonic throne on which you can get just as high without drugs as with them. Intentions are important to me, and if you set out with a volume trio baptised with the title of the nexus junction that was the birthplace of the sixties, you better have some baked potato-sized balls, and a sonic hammer to match that you’re willing to bring down on any braying non-believers. You better be fucking serious. Good thing then that Haight-Ashbury are every bit as sumptuously superb as that name deserves. Again, like my Sobre a Máquina conversation, this will be a retrospective of a somewhat-recent album (2010), but there is a new Haight-Ashbury record due in March if you’re the kind of obsequious little devil who can’t function outside of the four-month rule, we also have a little something special planned; audio interview and pictures from their Edinburgh date on the 7th of March, so look forward to that. So expect another two articles about these guys, and they deserve every bit. I have a feeling that I’ll be disappointed with meeting them though, running this beast through my stereo countless times has rendered me to imagine them as a trio of shoeless hippies stuck somewhere between the front row of a Jefferson Airplane-headlined Matrix and setting off for the hippy trail or New York state for that ’69 festival of peace and music; shoeless and stoned in Golden Gate Park, that’s how I imagine them. It’ll be sad to see them have standard Glasgow accents; because the music is so utterly righteously bang-on the San Fran acid groove of Grace Slick, they must have lilting California accents... right?
Throw away your iPhone, forget about your debts and stop wearing shoes to work; discard all that stuff that makes the world complex and foolish and twisted and brings hate on y’all, this record is where it’s at. While this style has endless imitators trying to bring the world back to the same wave (and more power to ya motherfuckers, we can’t get there quick enough) I’ve never encountered anyone who does it so immediately or so well. It’s righteous that these sounds are making their reappearance, as with 13th Floor Elevators-impersonators Red Plastic Buddha getting a great album nod in my bestof last year, it seems as if there really is a market in there for the freak circus of the sixties (and there sure is; me at least). But it isn’t enough to just get the scene, you gotta dig it too, and Haight-Ashbury certainly do. Nobody could accidentally come across this kind of superb sound without some kind of knowledge of what you’re doing, and this record really does. The sultry melodies laid down here, with the soaring and piercingly effective double-female vocal standing proud and forth, speak to something specifically and interestingly created. Like those sixties bands, the vocals are key; just listen to some of the clever poetry in Mothers Ruin if you don’t believe me. Their debut album, Here in the Golden Rays is spectacularly good, I highly advise picking up a copy if you haven't already. It perfectly nails the point of homage and is more than just a Tarantino nod to references, it's a fresh and excellent addition to any collection that prizes the San Fran acid wave.
|Photo - Gary McNair|
It has long been a founding principle of this blog (fuck man, it’s in the freakin’ masthead) that female voices in rock and roll music (literally and figuratively speaking) are sorely underrepresented. Gender politics were never my strong point, and it seems you can’t make a point about men and women being different without being branded a misogynistic pig, but men and women are different; clearly, women are better. It is a fact that most of the world’s war criminals and violent alcoholics are men, as well as blood-frenzy voted-in dictators that are comfortable with bombing anyone who forces us to drive more fuel-efficient cars. It is a fact that men for many thousands of years structured society to limit the contribution of the fairer sex to washing up and babymakin’ and that battle is far from over; and I call right now for all our righteous rock and roll sisters, even more than men, to stand up wherever you may be; get yourself a list of influences and a tribe of like minded heads (controlled but not limited to other rock and roll sisters) and seize power (and a guitar neck) and rock the world the fuck out. Female voices are kings of psychadelia and punk, and I wanna hear more. I want people who aren’t white heterosexual men to start making more music. I want voices in rock to diversify and change the face of this thing that is so flawlessly beautiful as it is. Blow my mind, please.
Oh and happy belated Valentine’s day. I hope ya rub each other wrong all night long the rest of the year too, not just Feb 14th.
Written under duvet by Steven.