Sound — 7
Somewhere in the acid fields of the late sixties in America there were Fresh Blueberry Pancake. A small fish in the big pond of psych/folk/rock, but they were there, play in Pittsburgh bars, playing for the pure joy of it. Not to be big rockstars, but because it's what it was. Out of their short tenure between 1968 and 1972 this recording, "Heavy," was recorded. And although the mere 54 copies printed wasn't able to a lot the fanbase of record company the company, this demo (essentially) has in the last few years been able for the public to hear, along with a re-release in 2003. While not reinventing the wheel by any means, FBP had their own approach to the mixture the iconic hard rock of that era. With blistering tracks like "Hassles" and "Clown on a Rope," chilled out songs like "Sleepbound," "Stranded" and "Where's the Sun?," to pure harmonica folk and even gospel, the album shows a diversity of interest and what they wanted to play.
Members Tony Impavido (singer/bassist), John Behrens (guitarist), and Geoff Reidell (drummer) round out this power trio. And while comparisons to bands like Cream can certainly be made made FBP carry a common, and yet unique and joyous approach to some of these familiar steps, with only two tracks really coming off as weaker tracks ("Bad Boy Turns Good," "I Call Him Lord"). Especially once one has exhausted their collection of Mountain and Cream albums and listened to Hendrix the XXXth time, FBP feel like a breath of fresh air. Of the most obvious similarity, is Cream's "Politician" to "Hassles." However, I would find "Hassles" to be a much groovier and dare I say, heavier riff. But this track does bring me to a big point about these band, the sense of freedom in which they approached playing. Once the bass kicks we hear Tony's distinct not-quite-the-same-notes-jam playing that carries strongly throughout the album. While this can be distracting at first, it adds a lot to the listening experience the more you listen. Guitarist John Behrens playing can be described as both blistering and lazy. Certainly not as find tuned as Hendrix, Page or Clapton, his lazy style has an appeal to me, as I have a bias towards raw, unpolished playing. The drums are definitely adequate, with some moments of standing out, but not particularly standout. As for the quality of the demo it's self, it does feel very in the moment and raw, with audio drop-outs here and there ("Down on the Farm") and odd mixing choices ("Bad Boy's Turns Good"). Overall as an album it still very listenable both for the variety of the album and its stylistic approach.
Lyrics — 7
Pure 1960's/early 1970's is a very easy way to describe it. While some songs have a bit of a Fuck-off stance such as "Hassles" ("now everybody's tellin' me, you got watch out for what you say and do, you've been comin' home late and smokin' dope with-a you know who") with "do the things that I wanna do" repeated several times. This, along with several other tracks exemplify they "heavy" aspects of feeling downtrodden, distant from others and like a freak. While other tracks such as "Down on the Farm" and "Where's the Sun" come from a brighter hippy stance. There's plenty of dope smoke around here, hanging out and yellin' at the man, but these are part of the building blocks for bands even like Electric Wizard and Sleep to build upon. And while lot's of the lyrics are memorable, there still isn't much groundbreaking here, just righteous and enjoyable.
Overall Impression — 9
In the end this album is a snapshot in time, a lost time capsule of three men and where they were for a period in life. And with the short lived life of the band this will always be all we get, and maybe that's enough. Shortly after the band shorten their name to Pancake, but this was short lived in their last year. I plan to review a few more lost gem's of time in the future, but I figured this would be a perfect starting points. This music can take you on a journey if you let it. Relax. Listen to "Heavy."