2.07.2009

Fever Tree (US, 1968)


A minor, if reasonably interesting, late-'60s psychedelic group, Houston's Fever Tree is most famous for their single "San Francisco Girls," with its dramatic melody, utopian lyrics, and searing fuzz guitar. Most of their best material, ironically, was written by their over-30 husband-wife production team, Scott and Vivian Holtzman, who had previously written material for Tex Ritter and the Mary Poppins soundtrack. These odd bedfellows produced some fairly distinctive material with more classical/Baroque influences and orchestral string arrangements than were usually found in psychedelic groups.

The self-titled debut album of this unfairly neglected psychedelic band is an odd mix of slick studio work laced with surprising moments of eclecticism, from soundtrack references to hard rock worthy of the best bands of the time. They open up with a pretty good piece of musical prestidigitation, melding Johann Sebastian Bach and Ennio Morricone into the album's first track, which segues neatly into a hard rock style that's their own on the spaced-out, Ravel-laced "Where Do You Go," which sounds like the Doors and the Jimi Hendrix Experience jamming together. They also roll over "Day Tripper" and "We Can Work It Out," squeezed into a two-song medley, like a proto-metal steamroller while quoting "Norwegian Wood" and "Eleanor Rigby"; then switch gears into a beautifully elegant, gently orchestrated pop/rock rendition of Neil Young's "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing" that's worth the price of admission by itself. The harder rocking numbers (especially "San Francisco Girls") are highly diverting artifacts of their time, while the last two songs, "Unlock My Door" and "Come with Me (Rainsong)," show off a totally unexpected and beautifully reflective folk-rock side to their sound that's strongly reminiscent of Phil Ochs' work on Pleasures of the Harbor and Tape from California. The variations in sound and content, plus the fact that the only keyboard player, Rob Landes, made any large contribution to the in-house songwriting (mostly the work of their producers, Scott & Vivian Holtzman), makes it difficult to pin down precisely what Fever Tree was about, beyond the evidence at hand; but taken on its own terms, the album ought to be better known than it is, which is probably also true of the band itself.

FEVER

9 comments:

Pablo"Pochola"Cazorla said...

Passw:
cazorla

Brandonio! said...

Pablo,
I totally dig this album,as for it being minor as you say,I on the other hand deem it a garage/psych classic.This record makes me feel like I need to pay attention.More people need to know about this band,that's for sure.

Pablo"Pochola"Cazorla said...

good band, and yes, more stuff about em coming through...

Anonymous said...

Just found your blog. This is the first thing I've grabbed so far. Unclassifiable but definitely worth a listen. There's something deeper than the typical 60's psychedelia here. Something I can't quite put my finger on that keeps them from sounding silly, sentimental or dated, like so many bands of their time. Can't wait to see what else you have.

Thanks,
red

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your great work. I'll stay around here for some time. Fever tree is one of my new fav bands, but the LPs are so hard to find...

Anonymous said...

Muchas gracias :)
Zeno

Anonymous said...

I've been looking for this for a long long time...had an 8-track of the band back in the day - many many thanks.
Rockon

Viacomclosedmedown on youtube said...

Odd characteristic to this post is that I had this record but sold it not even remembering what it sounded like...now I can vindicate

The Bomber said...

yea me too...its not in my collection at the moment