In memory of Johnny Peret

In memory of Johnny Peret
In memory of my friend Johnny Peret, vibist, drummer, accordeonist extraordinaire

Friday, December 13, 2013



LP Fantasy 8431 – USA, 1973

I’m usually pretty good at remembering where I found my LPs but this one I can’t remember where I got it from.  It’s one of the lesser known Merl Saunders’albums.  It should appeal to Deadheads because Jerry Garcia is playing on it.

I had a few too many Chartreuse Verte tonite so don’t expect me to write a review.  It’s a good record alright.  Here’s what Eugene Chadbourne (AMG) has to say.  Thst bloke’s much better than I am at writing review.

A versatile and engaging performer, Merl Saunders certainly put his best foot forward with his debut recording for the Fantasy label. His background in jazz was certainly welcome on an aesthetic level with the management of the label, but the splattering of Creedence Clearwater Revival imagery on this album's original protective paper sleeve suggests what the real goal must have been. Fantasy wanted more rock chart hits, and Saunders was seen as potentially a great crossover artist between the worlds of rock, soul, funk, and jazz fusion. That said, it should be pointed out that the label of world fusion did not exist when this record was recorded and is actually an area that Saunders got into in subsequent decades. One will not find Latin, African, or other international music influences on these five selections. This is pretty much a straight rock and funk effort, one of several totally solid albums produced by various members of Creedence Clearwater Revival on the side during this period. In this case it is Tom Fogerty directing the action.  Since he is such a terrific rhythm guitarist, it is really no surprise that he and Saunders could create such a pumping oil well; this is an album in which the rhythmic feel of each song can never be faulted, no matter how different the approaches might be. The band is really well recorded, the tones thick and fat, and the grooves trembling from the fine organ fondling. The composed material consists of originals by Saunders with several interesting covers. "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and "Imagine" are the remakes, each done quite personally with truly thoughtful arrangements. The status of these two songs as times have marched on is worth contemplating, while the mere presence of the tunes establishes a rich sense of time and place. The cover of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" would have been considered quite hip at one point, and then, perhaps sometime in the year 1976, a cosmic curtain of some kind shifted and the song was just considered downright corny. Anyone listening to this recording will have to lug around that cultural baggage, while the John Lennon song in contrast becomes more beloved each day, with the Saunders version actually a bit controversial amongst his fans. Some find it beautifully tasteful, others feel it drags, and the latter opinion is troubling since the version tracks at just barely over two and a half minutes, a shortie compared to other pieces on this record. Lead guitar fills by Jerry Garcia are a musical inspiration, as well as probably stimulating much of the original album's sales. Some listeners will be fanatic fans of this guitarist and others might regard him as musical vermin, but one and all would agree that this album has some of his top playing. He seems to have been at his best when at the side of Saunders, who once saved his life. Their efforts to play jazz together were a trifle feeble, true, but there is none of that here. The original numbers are on the funky and bluesy side, such as the terrific opener, "My Problem's Got Problems," and the delicious extended track, "Manchild."

My Problems Got Problems (Saunders / Carrier)
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down [RealAudio]  AU file (333K)
Save Mother Earth (Saunders / Lewis)
Imagine (John Lennon)
Welcome to the Basement (Saunders / Moore)
Man Child (Saunders / Lewis)

Merl Saunders - keyboards, vocals
Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals
Tom Fogerty - guitar
John Kahn - bass
Bill Vitt - drums
The Hawkins Singers (Edwin, Walter, Tramaine, Lynette, Freddie, Carol) - vocals
Eddie Moore - drums, saw
Kenneth Nash - percussion
Bob Drew - saxophone
The Tower of Power Horns

Merl Saunders - Heavy Turbulence - 1972 - Fantasy 8421

Not only am I too lazy to write a review, I am even too lazy to rip my vynil.  Blogger E-mile found a rip on the web last year -it has gone away since.  Here it is again.  With thanks to E-mile and to the original ripper.

It's a great album, I'm listening as I'm writing ... Manchild's playing just now and it has some gorgeous Fender Rhodes ...Get this album and have a drink of Chartreuse Verte ...



  2. In case you haven't got it yet, I've reposted Merl Saunders' rare 1st LP Soul Groovin' . Get it if you like Hammond B-3 and soul jazz.

  3. Guess i'm kind of a deadhead ;-)
    Love Merl's Keystone albums with Garcia. Garcia said in an interview that it was the first time he got into jazz standards, like playing Funny Valentine with Merl.

    Thanks boogieman!

  4. Thanks for reminding me of this duo, Mr Boogie, as I recall there are at least two more albums released some 40 years ago... and they were both great. Fogerty on rhythm as well, the one with expressway to your heart, after midnight and lonely avenue was a favorite way back when. I did not know the story of Saunders saving Jerry's life... poor Jerry, how does one deal with the fame of being a leader of freedom to do drugs without becoming an addict. Freedom=good, addiction=bad... not really impossible for the two to exist simultaneously except when when society's government takes away the freedom to let a person become mature enough to learn not to be an addict... It becomes a personal revolution against injustice for the young to kill themselves by becoming addicts... sick and dysfunctional idiots we let make the laws... But everyone in the world wanted to get high with "Captain Trips"... at least he held on longer than Jimi.
    As for Jerry and jazz, the Ornette Coleman stuff is dam good too.

    1. Thanks for the comments. Other Saunders albums have been floating around in the blogsphere. They may still be around.
      The one you mention (After midnight etc) is Fire Up and is currently available from Amazon. Therefore I can't post it.

  5. Xmas present : Merl Saunders (same title):

  6. Found a rip of Fire Up on my hard drive. Might as well share it! So here it is:


  7. Hi Boogieman, thanks for the Merl Saunders links! You have an interesting blog, thanks. Take care and enjoy. :)

  8. Thanks beaucoup for all these gems !