Friday, April 20, 2012

One St. Stephen - S/T (Anazitisi Records; ARLP70-30F)


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Welcome to Nug Luv, a column which will appear sporadically on the site and one which is devoted to examining my favorite reissues of private press glory from yesteryear.  Aside from the music, the most intriguing aspect of these gems is the story.  Invariably, the circumstances that surround that music are just as interesting and imbue the music with a special feeling.

The path to One. St. Stephen started with a few emails to Time-Lag's Nemo Bidstrup.  Nemo recommended a few lps - things like Jungle, Kristyl, Armando Piazza and King George Discovery.  One track was all that I need to hear; One St. Stephen possessed an energy that seemed to flip the switch in my head.

One St. Stephen is the vision of Don Patterson.  Along with contributing the music, lyrics, lead vocals, and guitars, Don directed and produced the album. Don has a passion for film and initially the music, which became One St. Stephen, was intended to be the soundtrack to Don's film, "the Devil's Reservation".  Don wrote the script for this film in 1974. In mid-March, 1975, Don and some fellow musicians recorded nine tracks over five days, in the legendary OWL Studios.  They used the same 8-channel analog recording deck that was used to tape the audio at Woodstock in 1969.  The first vibes were positive - people really enjoyed the music.  With that in mind, Don talked to Queen City, in Cincinnati, about pressing lps.  The initial plan was to press 5,000 copies.  Queen City provided Don with one week to design the cover and a label.  Though I have not viewed the image, Don's design must have been awesome: it was an image of a coffee table with a picture of Don, as an 8-year old, dressed in a military uniform for a Catholic military academy.  Surrounding Don's photo were images of semi-clad girlfriends, a smoking joint in an ashtray, some lines of coke and other items - perfect imagery for a 70's psychedelic rock album.  Unfortunately, Queen City had other ideas.  The first 1,000 copies arrived and Don was astonished to find that the company had airbrushed everything white, except for his child photo, which was enlarged on the cover.  Queen City was affiliated with religious types and conservatives and wanted no part of the sex and drugs on display.  Thus, Don cancelled the remainder and only 1,000 were pressed. 

The record is considered gold amongst record collectors.  Heavily sought and illegally bootlegged many times, original copies fetch well over $1,000.  Don licensed the re-issue by Anazitisi Records and he did half of the remastering.  One St. Stephen is a shining light among 1970's psych-acid music.  The musicianship is excellent, the lyrics awesome and Don's guitar playing gives me goosebumps.  Don's vocal range is impressive - on some tracks there is a Jim Morrison vibe, while on others he has a throaty, assertive sound.  The A-side is hot, beginning with "November Edgar" and ending with "You May be Religious" and "Nightly Drift" - two songs where Don's fuzzed, acid guitar work is conspicuous - stuff that is constantly on repeat in honest bag territory.  The flip starts with "Old Man", which has a Jethro Tull feel; the side ends with two classics: "Richer You Get" and "Dash In The Rocks".

What can I say?  This record glows among the others in my collection.  It spins regularly and is so special that I have a pre-listening ritual.  

I purchased this lp from Nemo Bidstrup and I recommend others to go through him.  Other than being a customer and friend of Nemo, I have no other connection; I'm only an advocate. Time-Lag records is a special shop.  Nemo puts a lot of love into Time-Lag and if you have yet to visit his online shop, then check it out and pick up a copy of One St. Stephen.  Additionally, Anazitisi has black vinyl and the colored version available. 

This first Nug Luv column was only made possible by garnering and synthesizing information and media that I located online.  As a trained social scientist, I feel obligated to mention these wonderful resources. Please scroll to the end for a "works cited" section.  To Don Patterson:  thank you for making this music.  everyday your music puts a smile on my face and gives me the strength to move forward.

Peace, my friends
  1. November video from Don Patterson's you tube page
  2. Nightly Drift track from the castro0024 you tube page
  3. Interview with Don, from It's Psychedelic Baby
  4. Product detail page, from Time-Lag Records