Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Jake Holmes - 1968 - A Letter To Katherine December

Jake Holmes
A Letter To Katherine December

01. Saturday Night - 2:12
02. Late Sleeping Day - 3:22
03. Chase Your Eyes - 3:28
04. The Diner Song - 2:29
05. High School Hero - 3:18
06. Moving Day  - 2:38
07. Leaves Never Break - 4:41
08. It's Always Somewhere Else - 2:30
09. Sleeping Woman - 3:12
10.Houston Street - 4:29

Words and Music by Jake Holmes.

*Jake Holmes - Vocals, Guitars
*Ted Irwin - Lead Guitar
*Charlie Fox - Horns, Strings Arragments

After the non-success of his debut, the record execs must've had a collective cow when Jake Holmes strolled into the office with the tapes for this follow-up LP under his arm. Indeed, one wonders what kind of secret Hoover files Holmes held on the Tower guys, who previously had recorded entire Chocolate Watchband LP sides with session men, but allowed Holmes complete artistic freedom and strange, uncommercial 45 picks to boot.
Again, the front sleeve is very nice-looking and what you might expect from a would-be Tim Hardin, but over on the back a reference to Poulenc amidst fluffy poetry should set alarm buzzers ringing. Drop the vinyl on the turntable and... yes, Mr Holmes has decided to do a Zappa, get serious, and create like, satire, you know. So what you get is acute observations on topics like "High School Hero" and "Saturday Night" set to music which sounds like what you'd expect to hear at a Paris art gallery in 1915. I shit you not; this is early modernist classical with Chuck Berry lyrics. Whew! Except with Chuck B you never got the vibes of a bitter outsider getting back at jocks & bullies from the elevated position of the Artist, which is what Jake delivers. After the triumphant 'He didn't graduate!' that concludes "High School Hero" you can almost see the ugly smile on Holmes face, like if the Cheshire Cat had paid a visit. Despite the freak value this stuff essentially sucks, proving the once-promising J H guilty on charges of taking too little acid and falling in love with his own ideas.
But like a suede-clad James Bond he then finds salvation at the very brink of death, opening side 2 with what is not only the high-point of the LP but of his entire career, or anyone's career (we're talking Scorpio Tube levels here); viz, the extended LSD-drenched showstopper titled "Leaves Never Break". Some may know this from the "Growing Slowly Insane" CD compilation and can proceed right to the end of this review, those that still remain should consider the prospects of a 2nd bardo merger between C A Quintet and the Deep at the operating table. The celebrated "Dazed & Confused" seems a mere sketch for this desperate slab of torment, as Jakey mutters and yells about the disintegration of his mind while evil dual fuzz guitars impatiently lurk in the wings. Surely a dispatch from the lands of utmost psychedelia, this track almost - but only almost - makes the LP. You owe it to yourself to hear it, anyhow.



  2. Collective cow, lol, sounds about right. Definitely "Leaves Never Break" is the best track here, and "It's Always Somewhere Else" is actually kind of a nice lighter number, but that's about all for highlights....