2006 marks the 40th anniversary of the birth of the Patron Saints. 40 years. How could it possibly be that long? Back in 1966, we were five typical mid-sixties suburban New York kids, learning our musical craft by emulating our heroes: the Stones, Beatles, Hendrix, Cream, the Butterfield Blues Band, The Doors, Moby Grape, the Yardbirds, et al, all loomed large in our rock ’n’ roll education. By early 1969, the Saints were down to three members: Jon Tuttle, Paul D’Alton and myself.
Jon and I had just started writing songs at this point, so we finally had some original music to practice and perform. Eventually, we recorded some demos together, using guitars and piano just to see what they sounded like. When we felt we had enough compositions under our belts, we decided to record some of this new material with Paul on drums. I owned a Sony TC-255 reel-to-reel tape deck and Jon had a portable Sony reel-to-reel system. These decks were not, by any stretch of the imagination, professional recording devices, but that didn’t matter to us...we had gotten pretty good at squeezing respectable results out of less-than-state-of-the-art equipment by this time.
It was at this point that I began to act on an idea that had been gestating in my little teenage brain for some time...why do we need to go to a record company with our stuff? Why don’t we just record our own album and put it out ourselves? Sort of like those old Andy Hardy movies...”Say, let’s put on a show in the barn!!!” My philosophy was (and still is, for that matter) that the music and vibes on a record were far more important than the fidelity. Our friend and contemporary, Chris Kubie, had recorded a live concert of his music in January 1969 and put out a limited edition record, so we knew it could be done. Jon and Paul readily agreed to the scheme; so, now what? How much would it cost? What did we need? Where would we record this thing?
Fate intervened when the Paul’s family decided that when they went away for three weeks in June of 1969, we could record at the house in their absence. I don’t think they really had a clue what was involved, but it sounded positive and harmless, so why not? With our “studio” problem solved, we scrounged up some extra equipment; a Roberts 770X (as I recall) reel-to-reel tape deck similar to my Sony, but of higher quality, a high-impedance Shure microphone and a mixer with built-in reverb! We had it made now.
We divided up the responsibilities into three distinct sections: I was to produce and engineer the album, Jon was to do the cover artwork and Paul was head of distribution (whatever that meant). Bit by bit, we set up our creative turf; amplifiers were hooked up, mikes (all three or four of them) were placed, levels were checked. It took a whole day, but finally, on June 25, 1969, we were ready to make our creative mark on the world.
Song by song, we captured our repertoire. Jon and I had done enough recording in the past to know our way around the basics of the process, but not enough to know what “wasn’t allowed,” so we constantly broke the rules (i.e., mike placement, reverb levels, sound effects, etc.) without even being aware of it. I truly believe our innocent “ignorance” is what gave the record it’s charm.
We often stopped tape when loud planes went over, when dogs barked, when phones rang (if we forgot to take them off the hook, which was fairly often). If you listen carefully to the fade out of “White Light”, you can hear the birds chirping outside. Not exactly a soundproof environment.
Somehow or other, by July 15th, we had finished the tracks for what was to become Fohhoh Bohob. The full story of our adventure is covered in great detail on our website (www.maxmulti.com), but suffice it to say, we packaged, pressed and delivered our masterpiece to a waiting world.
Or so we thought. Since we could only afford to press 100 copies of the LP, there weren’t that many to go around. Some went to family and friends, a few to record companies and radio DJs, and the rest to...well, apparently, they eventually found their way into the hands of fans and collectors who, in the ensuing years, have made Bohob one of the most collectible independently produced LPs ever released, with original copies commanding absurdly high prices. Who would have guessed?
Which brings us to this new reissue. To combat the number of sonically sub-par Bohob bootlegs which had appeared on the underground music scene over the years, we released a reissue LP and CD a decade ago, which were culled from original sources and processed to the best of our abilities using 1996-7 technology. Since that stock of reissue LPs/CDs is now virtually depleted, it seemed the right time to put out a new edition. Enter Nemo Bidstrup, owner and founder of Time-Lag Records, and, conveniently, a big fan of Fohhoh Bohob. Based on Nemo’s urging, we decided to put out the ultimate Bohob reissues, with the LP being as close as possible to the original in terms of look, feel and sound (only infinitely better), and the CD with an additional four previously unavailable bonus tracks, for a total of sixteen. This time, the transfer from the original master tapes (which, remarkably, still sound as good as they did back in ’69) is a close to perfect as possible. For instance, the transfer of the song “Flower” on the first reissues used a de-clicked version from an original Bohob LP. The version used on the new reissues, however, is about 85% original master tape, 15% de-clicked version.
The continued demand for Fohhoh Bohob is astonishing and truly heartening for the Patron Saints, who are still together in 2006 and releasing new music. It should also be an inspiration for bands offering their music to a difficult-to-break-through business, the lesson being, of course, “you just never know”! Grateful thanks to all of you who have loved this album enough to keep its spirit alive.
Eric Bergman, October 2006
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Deluxe and exact official reissue of one of the rarest and most unique gems of the 60s private press psychedelic underground. Home-recorded in a suburban New York living room over just a couple weeks in 1969 by three enthused teenagers, and then self-released by the band in an edition of only 100 copies complete with hand assembled covers and booklet insert. Dreams of rock stardom may have faded quickly, but from such humble beginnings these kids totally transcended their limited resources…an album overflowing with naive creativity, huge ideas, deep bedroom mysticism, and more then a hint of stoned teenage humor, not to mention a rather unusual assortment of instruments and some very unconventional but brilliant "studio" maneuvering. Two singers/songwriters both with wonderfully deep, poetic and introspective lyrics and unique voices, chiming 12-string and electric guitars, unusually cool use of piano, crude drum kit, autoharp, banjo, tambourine, subtle bursts of fuzz bass, off kilter unison vocals, washes of reverb modulation, weird tape edits, and a seriously one-of-a-kind vibration. There's truly been nothing like it before or since…
Highest quality production throughout with better-than-ever master tape sounds and warm analog mastering, the full original LP plus the two extra tracks from the 7-inch, as well as four previously unreleased bonus tracks from private demos and live recordings, as well as an alternate version of the LP's closing track. Heavy miniature LP-style gatefold cover with all original LP art, plus notes inside from founding member Eric Bergman. CD-sized version of the original booklet insert complete with metallic printed covers and woven Japanese inner sleeves. Without a doubt, the definitive reissue of this lost masterpiece. released in full cooperation with founding member Eric Bergman.
Nemo Bidstrup (Time-Lag Records)
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A classic example of a private press release gaining a reputation far outside its initial impact, Fohhoh Bohob was recorded in enthusiastic amateur fashion by the three teenagers in the Patron Saints during early summer 1969 at member Paul D'Alton's house while the rest of his family was on vacation. As explained by de facto bandleader Eric Bergman in the liner notes to the 2007 reissue on Time-Lag, the goal of the trio was to get something out there on their own, even though they could only afford a quick pressing of a hundred copies. Nearly forty years on, the perfect charm of Fohhoh Bohob — a phrase the original liner notes claims means ‘greetings of the mouth' — remains immediate and intact. Combining enough technical skill and good enough equipment to result in a reasonable if low-key recording plus a jaunty sense of humor and young but not sloppy instrumental skills on the part of the band, the album's an immediate, gentle pleasure, perhaps one of the first rural psychedelic albums as such.
The trio's love for any number of groups of the time is perfectly apparent — Bergman mentions such logical names as the Beatles, Hendrix and Paul Butterfield — but it's the reference to Moby Grape that makes the most sense, since this is almost the more upbeat, full band equivalent to Skip Spence's near simultaneously-recorded Oar. The rave-ups on "Flower" and "Relax" and the jaunty vaudevillian kick of "Do You Think About Me?" are merry treats, while the low-key, gentle singing from the deeper voiced Bergman and the slightly higher-pitched Jon Tuttle is alternately warmly inviting and hesistantly melancholy from both singers, depending on the song. ("White Light," Bergman's dreamy high point at the center of the album, handles both emotions quite well.) Clever, unexpected song structures help to give the album an even stronger mark — while not avant-garde per se, a number of songs eschew standard verse/chorus/verse structures for more complicated lyrical arrangements and musical tempos, all the more remarkable given the age of the performers. The 2007 CD reissue includes seven bonus songs, up from three from an earlier mid-nineties reissue — a well-received live version of "Do You Think About Me?" as well as an alternate studio mix, two 1975 era songs, "Reflections on a Warm Day" and "Nostalgia Trip," an alternate mix of "The Goodnight Song" and two otherwise unreleased songs from the original recording dates, "Shine On Heart" and "Do It Together."
Ned Raggett (reviewing the 2007 Fohhoh Bohob Deluxe CD reissue)
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Some way ahead of its time sounds here. Patron Saints' Fohhoh Bohob is one the definitive sought-after '60s private press albums, and if you shelled out three grand so you could own one of the 100 original copies, you can stop reading. Good, that makes none of you then. Recorded in the New York area in 1969, it shares the same naive DIY qualities as the Virgin Insanity albums we wrote up last year, with its limited bedroom-style recording resources and childlike creativity. Musically, Fohhoh Bohob is a barrage of styles but there's nothing too terribly psychedelic about it, if that's your bag. Instead, the three teenaged Patron Saints conjure up slightly stoned (not accusing these kids of smoking of course, just describing the general vibe here...), mystical folk that is really well written and bordering on the spiritual at times. Suitably rudimentary drums and fuzzy bass back up the din of 12-string guitars and ambitiously poetic lyrics, and there's autoharp and banjo thrown into the mix. Then there are some seriously off-the-wall old-timey influences recurring throughout, ragtime and music hall in particular, which in the end makes the album more psychedelic than most, just not by the book. A strange and amazing trip that's been lovingly and faithfully reproduced by Time-Lag (who also brought you the Satwa and Marconi Notaro reissues), complete with original booklet and construction paper sleeve, and a bonus 45 if you snatch up the limited LP version. [AK]
Other Music (reviewing the 2007 Fohhoh Bohob Deluxe reissue)