Wednesday, February 4, 2015

J.D. Blackfoot - 1970 - The Ultimate Prophecy

J.D. Blackfoot
The Ultimate Prophecy

01. One Time Woman
02. Angel
03. We Can Try
04. Good Day Extending Company
05. I've Never Seen You
06. The Ultimate Prophecy
07. Death's Finale
08. Cycles
09. Waiting To Be Born
10. Pink Sun

J.D. Blackfoot (vocals)
(Benjamin Franklin Van Dervort)
Dale Frashuer (drums)
Craig Fuller (guitar)
Sterling Smith (organ)

Although he's been recording on and off since the late-'60s and has written some quirky and interesting material, outside of a small devoted cult following, singer/guitarist J.D. Blackfoot remains largely unknown to most audiences.

After a couple of years working in life insurance, in the mid-'60s Blackfoot decided to shift his career to music.   His professional musical career began as vocalist for the Columbus, Ohio band Tree.   While a member of Tree he came up with what was the concept for J.D. Blackfoot.  Finding a financial supporter, Blackfoot convinced Tree members Dan Waldron, Michael Wheeler, and Jeff Whitlock to help him record some demo material.  Former Thirteenth Dilemma bassist Kenny May was subsequently added to the line-up.  

Signed by Mercury/Philips, the band went into the studio, making their debut with an interesting psych-heavy single:

- 1969's 'Who's Nuts Alfred' b/w 'Epitaph for a Head' (Mercury catalog number 40625)

The 45 attracted some regional attention which was enough for Mercury to green-light an album.  The band also expanded their lineup to include singer/guitarist Craig Fuller.

Subject to extensive hype among collectors, Id been looking for a copy of 1970's "The Ultimate Prophecy" for a couple of years.  Well, I finally stumbled across a copy at a yard sale and was anxious to check out what all the excitement was about.  Produced by Dale Frashuer  to my ears the LP sounded like it was recorded by two separate bands. With future Pure Prairie League/Little Feat singer/guitarist Craig Fuller responsible for most of side one,  tracks such as 'One Time Woman', 'Angel' and 'We Can Try' offered up attractive, if unexceptional country-rock numbers.  Think long the lines of early Poco, or Fuller's forthcoming Pure Prairie League catalog and you'd be in the right ballpark. There were a couple of exceptions - 'We Can Try' was a heavy rocker with a nifty lysergic touch.   In contrast, with namesake Blackfoot writing most of the material on the flip side (which was presented as a side-long suite with spoken word sections between the songs), material such as the title track, 'Death's Finale' and 'Waiting To Be Born' displayed a darker, psychedelic bent (complete with some great fuzz guitar). As you've probably guessed, though the lyrics were occasionally on the clunky and dated side ('Pink Sun'), but the flip side was far more interesting.  Perhaps not the brain melting psych masterpiece dealers would have you believe, but all-in-all not a bad addition to one's catalog and when you consider the album was recorded in New York City over the course of a single weekend - damn.   I'll also mention the country-rock tunes were all growers that I've come to appreciate over the years.

Also worth mentioning; for hardcore fans there are two versions of the LP.  The original featured the brown, Magret-styled picture of a man in bowler hat.   The second version (with the same catalog number and the same track listing, featured a misty photo of a monk.

Unfortunately, before, during and after the album recording sessions Blackfoot and the band ran into personnel issues.  Keyboardist Sterling Smith joined the group during the recording sessions.  Bassist May was fired at around the same time; replaced by Sanhedrin Move alumni Phil Stokes.  The changes apparently only made things worse with Blackfoot eventually simply walking away from the project and Mercury Records. 

For anyone interested,  Blackfoot is still in the business and has an interesting website at:

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