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Fankhauser Cassidy Band - On The Blue Road (CD)

Genre: Pop/Psychedelia/Rock
Release Date: 4th November 2013

Label: Gonzo
Catalogue Number: HST126CD
Price: £7.99
Available: Sorry - Not currently available

Fankhauser Cassidy Band - On The Blue Road

Merrell Fankhauser is considered one of the main innovators of surf music and psychedelic folk rock, and is widely known as the leader of the instrumental surf group The Impacts who had the international hit Wipeout. His travels from Hollywood to his 15-year jungle experience on the island of Maui have been documented in numerous music books and magazines in the US and Europe. Merrell has gained legendary international status throughout the field of rock music; his credits include over 250 songs published and released.

I interviewed him about this classic album he made with legendary drummer Ed Cassidy:

“We started on the first one I think in 1994 and he and I were friends for years.  We met back in 1969 in passing back stage at a concert but never really had a conversation and then we bumped into each other again around 1990 and his spirit was kind of in a low then and he said ‘Hey  we ought to do some recording together.’ And at the time I was doing a national satellite TV show called California Music and so I had him on that show and then Randy said ‘Oh I’d like to be on that show,’  so I interviewed Randy and then I ended up jamming with them all. And then Cass decided he wanted to move further out of the Los Angeles area and he moved up here to the central coast, and I helped find him a house not even a mile from my house, so it was perfect and he wanted to do something blues oriented. So I started writing a bunch of tunes and then we did some classic covers of songs like ‘High Heel Sneakers’ and the Muddy Waters’ song ‘Going Down to Louisiana’ and ‘Walking the Dog’ and then I wrote a bunch of songs that were in a  similar vein that was perfect for me to play slide on. I loved it. 

"I think in about four-and-a-half/five months we cranked out the first album, ‘On the Blue Road’, and my son Tim was singing and playing on a few tunes and we had a regular bass player Leroy Richards at the time who did all of the bass. So we finished that first album and I sent it to Alligator Records in Chicago and they loved it, but they were full up with releases and I made a deal with D-Town Records from Detroit at the time, and they put out groups like the Ohio Players and Lee Rogers, and even one on the football player Rosey Greer. And they loved it and issued it out and it got out I think near the end of  ’94 and it started getting a lot of airplay and all over the place even in Australia and then it was nominated for a Memphis Blues Award which surprised me. And we didn’t win but it was just great to do the nomination.”

Disc 1-1. Further On Up The Road 2. 32/20 Blues 3. Bright Lights Big City 4. Excited (M. Fankhauser) 5. Walking The Dog 6. Louisana Blues 7. High Heel Sneakers 8. Tale Of Misty Mountain (M. Fankhauser) 9. Possession over Judgment Day 10. On The Blue Road (M.Fankhauser)11. Nickys Song (M.Fankhauser) 12. Psychedelic Dreams((M. Fankhauser)

Disc 2- 1. Hot Night In Louisville (M.Fankhauser) 2. Milk Cow Blues 3. Who Shout The Lightnin (M.Fankhauser) 4.Goin Back To Delta(M. Fankhauser) 5.Stolen Guitar Blues (M.Fankhauser & E.Cassidy) 6. Brian Berry Blues (M.Fankhauser & E.Cassidy) 7. Cosmic Lady (M.Fankhauser & T. Fankhauser) 8. Voodoo In The Jungle (M.Fankhauser) 9. Cassidys Big Beat (E.Cassidy) 10. Long Rifle ( T. Fankhauser) 11. Papa Told Me (Larry Willey) 12.Ed Cassidy Interview


 Review: Merrell Fankhauser & Ed Cassidy UK review

On The Blue Road
Merrell Fankhauser is, apparently, a surf guitar legend, and the late Ed Cassidy was. of course, the drummer with seventies legends Spirit. And I assume it’s the ‘late’ aspect that has inspired this re-release.
This material has been out before in assorted formats, and sees the duo, may years after their prime lending their names to a sometimes pedestrian blues rock band. To be fair, there are some diamonds in amongst the rough, but when they wheel out ‘Bright Lights Big City’ and ‘Walking The Dog’, you really do have to ask why.
Things take a turn for the better when some magic is sprinkled hither and thither by passing guests such as John McEuen from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Pete Sears (Jefferson Starship, Hot Tuna), and it’s the original material that makes your ears prick up slightly. Add in a brief interview over on CD 2 with Ed Cassidy, and it just about passes muster. But it’s the kind of thing you’ll dip into, rather than take in at one sitting.
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 Review: Merrell Fankhauser & Ed Cassidy: UK review


The name of this band is likely to be cause for interest for many listeners given that it refers to Merrell Fankhauser the highly renowned guitarist, and the late Ed Cassidy of Spirit on drums. This alone tells us at that we are potentially on to something good here. We also have Merrel’s son Tim on vocals and guitar, Leroy Richards on bass, Bruce Clarke Harmonica and sax, Jim Enos on piano; alongside these legends we have a long list of greats guesting on various tracks including, among others, John McEuen (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), and Pete Sears (Jefferson Starship) [interviewed in Ptolemaic Terrascope issue 19 in 1995]. 

Disc One starts with ‘Further on up the Road’ a nice rocky blues track; ‘32/20 Blues’ and ‘Bright Lights Big City’ are traditional blues tracks enhanced by some superb harmonica and piano playing; ‘Excited’ ups the tempo and pace a bit, ‘Walking the Dog’ continues the rock and roll feel without losing that blues edge; some delicious slide guitar gives ‘Louisana Blues’ a wonderful mellow feel, a real highlight of the album to my ears; ‘High Heel Sneakers’ is a light hearted piece of rock and roll; ‘Tale of Misty Mountain’ takes the tempo down and moves towards a more melancholy style with some stunning sax adding to the atmosphere; ‘Possession over Judgment Day’ and ‘On The Blue Road’ are very strong tracks with excellent musicianship from all the band; ‘Nicky’s Song’ a gentle melodic tribute to Nicky Hopkins; ‘Psychedelic Dreams’ is a light-hearted blues song about the dangers of smoking that herb. 

Disc Two starts with ‘Hot Night in Louisville’ and ‘Milk Cow Blues’ are lively up beat chunk of rocking blues; ‘Who Shout The Lightnin’ is pure rockin’ jazz blues; ‘Goin Back to Delta’ is very much traditional blues instrumental with fiddle giving it a country feel; ‘Stolen Guitar Blues’ featuring John McEuen playing some tasty mandolin, was written about the loss of Randy California’s Martin guitar; ‘Brian Berry Blues’ another full on hunk of delightful jazz blues instrumental; ‘Cosmic Lady’ is a lively rock and roll blues track; ‘Voodoo in the Jungle’ slows the tempo with a laid back mellow sound; ‘Cassidy’s Big Beat’ I have to admit I am a bit of a sucker for a good drum solo and this one goes way beyond good; ‘Long Rifle’ is more rock and roll than blues; ‘Papa Told Me’ ends the music with a good old acoustic country blues track; then to finish we have a short Ed Cassidy Interview. 

All taken together this is a superb blues focused mix with elements of rock and roll, jazz and country. An album showing off the talents of some excellent musicians and is a worthy addition to any music collection. (Steve Judd)

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