Friday, January 20, 2017

Kak - 1969 - Ola


01. HCO 97658
02. Everything’s Changing
03. Electric Sailor
04. Disbelievin’
05. I’ve Got Time
06. Flowing By
07. Bryte ‘N’ Clear Day
08. Trieulogy
09. Lemonaide Kid

10. Rain (Bonus Track)
11. Everything’s Changing (Acaustic Demo) (Bonus Track)
12. I’ve Got Time (Previously unrelease) (Bonus Track)
13. Medley:Bye Bye/Easy Jack (Previously unrelease) (Bonus Track)
14. Bryte ‘N’ Clear Day (Previously unrelease) (Bonus Track)
15. Medley:Mirage/Rain (Previously unrelease) (Bonus Track)
16. When Love Comes In (Previously unrelease) (Bonus Track)
17. I Miss You (Previously unrelease) (Bonus Track)
18. Lonely People Blues (Previously unrelease) (Bonus Track)
19. Flight From The East (Bonus Track)
20. Good Time Music (Bonus Track)

Tracks 1 to 15:
*Dehner C. Patten – lead guitar, vocals
*Gary L. Yoder – acoustic guitar, rhythm guitar, vocals
*Joseph D. Damrell – bass guitar, sitar, tambourine, vocals
*Christopher A. Lockheed – drums, tabla, harpsichord, maraccas, vocals

Tracks 16, 17 and 18:
*Gary L. Yoder – guitar, vocals
*Bruce Stephens – guitar
*Paul Whaley – drums
*Richard Berger – flute
*Ralph Kellogg – keyboards, bass
*Jim Keylor – bass

Tracks 19 and 20:
* Gary L. Yoder – guitar, vocals
*Pete Sears – keyboards
*Bryn Haworth – guitar
*Paul Whaley – drums
*Jim Keylor – bass
*Billie Barnum – backing vocals

Tracks 1 to 9 from Epic LP 26429
Track 10 from Epic single 10383
Tracks 11 to 18 Previously unissued
Tracks 19 & 20 from Epic single 10560

Although formed in Davis, CA, Kak were based in San Francisco for a good part of 1968, when they recorded their only album. Lead singer, guitarist, and primary songwriter Gary Lee Yoder and lead guitarist Dehner Patten had been in the Oxford Circle, an obscure early Northern Californian psychedelic band that had cut one garage/psych single (“Foolish Woman”/”Mind Destruction”) and played some shows on the San Francisco psychedelic circuit, while bassist Joe Dave Damrell had been on a 1965 single on Scorpio Records with Group “B”.

The self-titled Kak LP was minor-league San Francisco psychedelic rock colored by a lot of influence from bigger Bay Area bands, particularly Moby Grape; the vocal harmonies and curling guitar work on tracks like “Disbelievin'” and “Everything’s Changing” in particular sounded like a more pedestrian Moby Grape. There were also more distant echoes of Quicksilver Messenger Service (in the guitar work) and the Grateful Dead (in faint traces of country-blues-rock). Kak were best, and least derivative, at their quietest, as on the gentle country-tinged rocker “I’ve Got Time, ” the good-time wistful psych-folk-rock of “Lemonade Kid, ” and the harpsichord-decorated ballad “Flowing By, ” which was as derivative of Donovan as much of their other songs were of Moby Grape.

Kak’s album was barely promoted and sold little. It didn’t help that the band played less than a dozen shows before breaking up in early 1969, Damrell having already quit prior to the split. Yoder did a single for Epic and then joined Blue Cheer. The Kak album eventually became a pricey collector’s item, and was reissued on CD by Big Beat (with the new title Kak-ola) in 1999 with plenty of bonus cuts, including previously unreleased acoustic demos and Yoder solo tracks from the late ’60s.

Gary Lee Yoder is a musician who was part of several 1960s San Francisco psychedelic rock bands, including Kak, Oxford Circle, and Blue Cheer.

Oxford Circle (formed in 1966) and Kak (formed in 1968) were both formed in Yoder’s hometown of Davis, California, and featured the same nucleus of members. While Oxford Circle frequently shared the stage with greats such as the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Janis Joplin, they did not achieve the same level of fame and never got a record deal. In 1997, a live album, Live at the Avalon 1966 was released. It made No 6 on Record Collector’s list of Top 50 reissues of 1997, ahead of reissues of Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, and Santana, and also received a favorable review in Mojo.

Kak would release only one record in 1969, the eponymous Kak, which has become a collector’s item. It was reissued by Big Beat Records in 1999 as Kak-ola. This recording additionally contained unreleased solo work by Yoder.

Although this is actually the Kak album with a bunch of bonus tracks, it merits a separate entry both because this version boasts a different title (Kak-Ola), and because the bonus tracks make this disc twice as lengthy as the original LP. Those curious about the original Kak because of its high reputation among some collectors might be disappointed by its average, often derivative (particularly of Moby Grape) San Francisco psychedelic rock. Some of the more folk-rock-oriented numbers are pleasant, however, especially “I’ve Got Time,” “Flowing By,” and “Lemonade Kid.” The ten bonus tracks do much to round out the picture of the little-recorded band. These include the 45 version of “Rain” (which is different than the one that appears as part of the “Trieulogy” medley on the LP); 1968 acoustic versions of four songs from the album that may actually be more attractive to some ears due to their folkier bent, along with one acoustic rendition of a song (“Bye Bye”/”Easy Jack”) that was not included on the album; Gary Yoder’s solo single “Flight from the East” and “Good Time Music”; and three Yoder demos from late 1967 with Blue Cheer’s Paul Whaley on drums and Bruce Stephens on guitar. The Yoder solo material is pretty routine heavy late-’60s San Francisco rock, and not up to the level of the Kak stuff.

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