Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Mad River - Jersey Sloo

Some old Berkeley Boys many of you may remember .....

SHAGRAT RECORDS is pleased to announce the release of ‘Jersey Sloo’ by legendary late 60s West Coast band, Mad River. The release includes a soft-cover book and 12” 5-track EP pressed on 180gsm vinyl, featuring previously-unissued music by the band in a limited edition run of 500 copies.

Mad River formed at Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio in 1965 and inspired what was happening in San Francisco moved to Berkeley in early 1967 just in time for the Summer of Love. During their brief time together they released a now highly-sought-after 7” EP and two albums for Capitol Records. The Shagrat release is a substantial addition to their catalogue.

Housed in the same sleeve as the vinyl 12”, the 12” x 12” 36pp, full colour, mini-coffee table book features a 26,000 word history of the band written by Ugly Things journalist David Biasotti, revealing many unknown stories and details about this legendary, Berkeley-based quintet. The book is profusely illustrated with many photos and other memorabilia which have never been seen before, and tells the band’s remarkable history, how they were involved  in the emergent long hair counter culture and the movement against the Vietnam War (then at its height), their relationship with the Diggers and the Hells Angels, the Beat Poets and most interesting of all their friendship and collaboration with the late writer Richard Brautigan.

The band played all the infamous psychedelic ballrooms such as the Avalon, the Fillmore and the Straight Theater, sharing the bill with the likes of Country Joe & the Fish, Phil Ochs, the Vanilla Fudge and Santana, who opened for them on a number of occasions. Both their albums are now rightfully regarded as classics of the era – their eponymous, intense debut album, more prog rock than acid rock,  showcased the songwriting prowess of leader/bassist Lawrence Hammond and the glistening twin guitar attack of David Robinson and Rick Bockner. Their sophomore set  Paradise Bar & Grill was a more relaxed affair and showed the band’s country and folk roots poking through creating the kind of bucolic, rootsy feel that the Grateful Dead would capitalise on a year later on American Beauty.

Acting as a kind of soundtrack to the book, the 12” record contains five cuts that have never been officially released before, including the four numbers the band cut in Dayton Ohio in early 1967 as a demo before they re-located to California. These show that whilst the band was influenced by the likes of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Country Joe & the Fish (whom drummer Greg Dewey eventually joined and played Woodstock with) and their friends the Youngbloods, they were also pretty fully formed before they set off for the West Coast, as the embryonic ‘Windchimes’ included here testifies.

It was former Youngblood Jerry Corbitt who produced the other long-lost gem from ’69, ‘Jersey Sloo’in this set – showing that away from the long flowing psychedelic numbers, the band could also write concise, accessible, two-minute rockers (even if the lyrics were completely whacked out!). Drummer Greg Dewey takes a rare lead vocal on this one, which with its overtly funky bass lines, might be considered a frenetic companion piece to Country Joe & the Fish’s infamous ‘Rock and Soul Music’.

Release Date: 12th December 2011

Copies  may be purchased from:

It took nearly 45 years before Shagrat Records deemed the world ready for these astonishing Mad River recordings. Limited copies of this beautiful 12 inch package, of what is bound to become a future collectable, can be procured by clicking here. The package includes a beautiful 36 page insert with David Biasotti's 26,000 word essay on the band and some rare photographs. British psychedelic artist John Hurford has provided some beautiful artwork for the project and Tony Poole undertook the audio mastering.