Sunday, February 1, 2015

Bump - 1971 - Bump 2

Bump 2

01. Winston Built the Bridge 3:03
02. Such Pretty Scenery 6:29
03. The Song 3:14
04. Sea of Tranquility 2:47
05. Concerning Your Invitation 2:17
06. Promises to You 3:23
07. Let Me Lie 2:02
08. Boris the Black 10:44

Recorded at Pioneer Recording, USA, 1971

Alan Goldman - Guitar
Paul Lupien - Organ
George Runyan - Bass, Vocals
Jerome Charles Greenberg - Drums

Midwest psychedelic warriors Bump let their freak flags fly high on this previously unreleased gem. The Bump (as they were originally known) formed in 1969 out of the same wild Detroit scene that birthed the MC5 and Stooges. Bump’s music may have been less confrontational than some of the other Detroit bands, but they make up for it in sheer lysergic exuberance.

Their music is prime garage/psych of the era, and it didn’t take long for some in the local scene to take a chance on them. This would be in the form of a “conglomerate” who called themselves Pioneer. Pioneer provided the studio, equipment, rehearsal space, management, and record label for the guys. Bump’s first, self-titled album was released in 1970, and promptly went nowhere, even though it contained the regional hit “Sing Into The Wind/State Of Affairs.”

Even though the album did not sell, Bump went back into the studio in 1971 and recorded the eight songs that were to be Bump 2. But Bump 2 was never released. Whether it was due to internal conflicts or problems with the label, the album has been on the shelf for the past 40 years.

Interestingly enough, the one track that Bump are best known for was recorded for Bump 2, and did manage to get out. “Winston Built The Bridge” has appeared on both the Rubble, and Mind Blowers collections of rare garage/psychedelic wonders from the era.

“Winston Built The Bridge” just happens to be the lead track on Bump 2, and it is a great introduction to the band. Opening with some squealing feedback courtesy of Alan Goldman, the song soon settles into a catchy tune, with some nice trippy breaks.

Bump were a very unusual group in that they used a two-organ approach. I cannot recall another band of the era (or any other for that matter) who had this type of lineup. The dual organs sure add to the overall late-sixties acid drenched effect of the music. The prog implications inherent in a set up like this are explored deeply in the very next tune, “Such Pretty Scenery.”

There was a wide variety of music coming out of Detroit 40 years ago, and the perfect pop of Motown was just one strand. With “Sea Of Tranquility,” Bump seem to be attempting to write their pop symphony, with surprisingly effective results. “Promises To You” is another example of this, although the guitar/organ freakout at the end gives the ruse away.

For truly mind-blowing fun, though, the closing 11-minute “Boris The Black” cannot be beat. Singer George Runyan takes on the role of the title character, who seems to be one bad-ass mofo. But it’s when the organs come in to duke it out that things really get dirty. I wish more bands had been adventurous enough to try things like this because it sounds great. To top it off, Alan Goldman’s guitar comes in like the bastard child of Blue Cheer’s Leigh Stevens. The drum solo which leads into the big finish is the icing on the cake of one of the greatest prog/psych/garage albums you have never heard.

The Bump emerged in the spring of 1969 out of Detroit's psychedelic pop scene. The band's founding members, bassist/vocalist George Runyan and keyboardist Paul Lupien, held open auditions to fill the open guitar and drum positions, finally settling on Alan Goldman and Jerome Charles Greenberg, respectively, who had themselves been a team of several years going back to their high school friendship. Runyan came up with the band name after seeing a roadside sign. Lupien was the band's primary songwriter; he already had a backlog of songs coming into the band. Runyan and Greenberg were, although less prodigious, also writers, so the band instantly had original material to practice and perform. By the late summer of 1969, the Bump had sufficiently worked up their material and were signed by a local 8-track recording studio, Pioneer, which also provided the band with management, equipment, booking, rehearsal space, recording facilities, even its own label. They recorded two singles and two LPs for the label. The first, self-titled album received favorable reviews in publications such as Billboard and Record World magazines, but was not enough promoted to chart nationally. The second album was never released. Still, the Bump made its name with a dramatic live show that included theatrical stage costumes and make-up. They also made several local television appearances, and had a local hit with their second single, 'Sing Into the Wind/State of Affairs.' In 1971, Runyan and Lupien dissolved the band, yet remained a writing and performing team with numerous other bands, none of which experienced any measure of success, over the next couple years.

Bump's second album was due for a 1971 release but never appeared, so its first formal release 40 years on is by default something of a curio. Given the band's pleasant but not generally remarkable work on that first album, 2 would seem to be more of the same, but there's a sense that they might have been figuring out a way to develop things just a bit more if they had had the chance. 'Winston Built the Bridge' starts off with all the scuzz you could want, which ends up lurking in the background behind the sweet demi-dippy demi-funky song itself, a classic case of accidentally stumbling onto something, at once continuing the just-out-of-the-acid-splash craziness of the previous years but not quite finding what they need to connect. But moments like the sudden break from keyboards to high chorused vocals on 'Such Pretty Scenery,' followed later by an extended instrumental break that's both stentorian and genuinely entertaining, show that the sparks are there. A song like 'Let Me Lie,' stripping away the keyboard swirls for the most part for a taut edge, is a nice touch, giving a little more variety for the album, while the easygoing demi-boogie of 'Sea of Tranquility' - a perfectly timely reference given the recent moon landings - also gels well enough. Meanwhile, 'Boris the Black' lets them go for a full-on indulgence at an album-closing ten minutes, but again, compared to a lot of the little-goes-a-long-way acts of the time, the strip back to a quieter part followed by a rhythmic guitar/cymbal slash and crash with keyboard soloing over the top all holds up entertainingly. When a triumphant solo starts with three minutes to go, it actually feels like something that's been earned; when psychotic screams crop up in the final minute, it makes for an uneasy ending at best - and a compelling one."

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