After years of prodding by fans and reviewers, The Patron Saints have released a 2-CD, 45-song set of cover tunes recorded from September, 1966 to late spring/early summer 1968, entitled Before Bohob, Vol. 1 (subtitled Birth Of A Basement Band).
Here are the liner notes from the CD package:
Once I actually held a tape recorder in my hands, it was all over. I was probably about ten or eleven years old, and had received a cute, toy-like little 3-inch reel-to-reel from my grandmother for my birthday. I was absolutely fascinated with it, spending hour after hour recording errant noises, household sounds and family members ad nauseum. I used to love to flip the tape over and play stuff backwards (predating John Lennon by years!).
When the Patron Saints formed in 1966, I was able to couple my love for tape recorders with my other obsessions, electric guitars and rock ’n’ roll, and record us at various stages in our ‘career’, culminating in our most famous project, our 1969 independently written, produced and distributed LP, Fohhoh Bohob, now an unexpected cult classic. When our musical genre is listed in numerous musical websites and catalogs, it is invariably ‘psychedelic garage rock’ or something equally obtuse. We’re usually presented as three dorky ‘emo’-like teenagers who must have spent all of our formative years in our bedrooms penning our angst-ridden musical ideas and who, finally, painfully, put them down on tape. Often, reviewers will attempt to ‘nail down’ our musical influences, often naming groups we’d never heard of, let alone were influenced by.
The truth, as you will hear in this musical chronicle, is that the early Patron Saints were never a Psych band…we were a hardcore R & B/Blues/Pop/Rock/Folk Rock/Country/Surf band. Well, maybe a little Psych, too, I guess. And we weren’t a garage band, either…we were, in reality, a basement band. I don’t recall ever playing in anyone’s garage, quite honestly; we honed our craft in each other’s basements.
Over the years, a surprising number of fans and reviewers have written to ask me if there were any recordings of the Patron Saints made before Fohhoh Bohob. As well-known as the threesome on the Fohhoh Bohob sessions are, and the four Patron Saints who recorded The Latimer Sessions in 1970-71, for me, the real Patron Saints are the original five who started the group together in ’66; me, Frank Stapleton, Jeff Alfaro, Jon Tuttle and Bruce Miller. The songs presented in this CD set are all live recordings made by the five of us, presented chronologically, spanning the period from September, 1966 to late spring/early summer, 1968. Recorded in a number of different situations with tape recorders of varying features and quality, I believe that our energy and ability shines through, despite any equipment limitations and engineering inadequacies.
For a bunch of teenagers, we had a remarkable work ethic. We were all fiercely dedicated to learning and mimicking our musical heroes’ recordings as closely as possible, until we felt comfortable enough to stray from that formula and start developing our own distinct sound. We all liked working in a group context, and really enjoyed each other’s company. While most of the groups in our local musical universe played it safe with the hits of the day, the vast majority of our repertoire was Rolling Stones songs (and a lot of obscure ones, at that), which gave us, by proxy, a ‘bad boy’ image. To this day, members of local bands from back in the day will tell us how much they used to look up to us. Pretty amazing.
Each band member seemed comfortable with his role; as Patron Saint founder, I was pretty much the anchor, politically and, as bass player, musically. I was really into the details; “no, I think Keith actually played this note, not that one…”. Frank, on rhythm guitar, had an amazing ability to see into the musical future; he was the one who first discovered Jimi Hendrix, for instance, and turned us all on to him, ages before the rest of the world had caught on. He also introduced me to the John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton LP, for which I am forever grateful. Jeff, on drums, was the baby of the group; he was (and pretty much still is) the highenergy, positive ‘Keith Moon’ core of the group. I’ve known him for over fifty years (!), and I don’t recall ever seeing him angry. Jon, on lead guitar, was a musical force of nature. Incredibly gifted, his superlative guitar playing elevated our group stature quite a few notches over our local contemporaries. Forty years on, I still marvel at the skill and maturity in his playing back then. Bruce, on lead vocals, organ, harmonica and tambourine, was supremely confident as the front man. He had the voice, the chops and the looks to add the icing to the cake.
So often nowadays, the mid-to-late sixties is remembered musically as a period of drug-induced, psychedelic “Summer of Love” hippie music. I hope that this CD set helps to dispel that absurd myth, and prove that there was a huge variety of music genres to experience and tap into back then. In preparing these songs for inclusion here, I have done some harmonic balancing, a little click and pop removal, and a modicum of noise reduction, but I’ve attempted to leave them as “analog” and close to the original vibe as possible. So sit down, crank it up and listen to what a true garage, err, basement band from the sixties was all about.
Eric Bergman, October, 2007
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
For those of you who are interested in the technical aspects of this project: tracks 1 and 2 on CD 1 were recorded with a borrowed (from whom, I have no idea) mono Grundig reel-to-reel tape recorder, which had an ominous green light which served as a level meter. Tracks 3, 4, 16, 17, 18 on CD 1 and tracks 8 through 13 on CD 2 were recorded using a very cool and very rare gray Sony portable reel-to-reel recorder/player with detachable speakers (alas, I don’t recall the model number) which Jon’s family had brought back from South Africa, where they had lived for a time. This machine was also used for the majority of original demos which Jon later recorded for the songs on Fohhoh Bohob (and later released in 1999 on our Proto Bohob CD).
Tracks 5 through 15 and 19 through 22 on CD 1 and tracks 1 through 7 on CD 2 were recorded using a gray mono Lafayette reel-to-reel deck I had picked up sometime in 1967. Finally, the tape deck used on tracks 14 though 23 on CD 2 had to have been my next acquisition, a stereo Sony TC-255. This deck ended up being one of the two main machines which were used to record our Fohhoh Bohob LP about a year later, and most of my early song demos, as well. The actual tape used on all of these recordings, all on seven-inch reels, was either lower-end Shamrock or higher-end Scotch, depending on availability and finances at the time.
(Note to CD Baby users: for legal reasons, we are not able to post sound clips of the five Jimi Hendrix songs on this CD set...sorry about that!)