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june 2010

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info opinion


"Mendelbaum" 2 CD

Shadoks Music

Genres: seventies rock, psychedelic, folk-rock

Normal Records
PO Box 150 117
53040 Bonn

Sep 22 - 28 2003

Mendelbaum was a late-sixties/early-seventies psychedelic band with a twist.  Blending elements of folk, rock, pop, and even gospel, the group, who featured saxophone and organ among the instrumentation, was like none other at the time.  This two-disc set, released by German psych reissue label Shadoks Music, contains nine studio tracks and twelve live songs recorded at legendary San Francisco clubs The Matrix and Fillmore West.

The songs that Mendelbaum played were often dark lyrically and yet fiercely melodic.  The first, studio-based disc kicks off and jumps right into psych mode with "Days Gone By," a catchy, positively delicious tune with great guitar soloing and terrifically used organ that adds an Iron Butterfly-esque flair to the mix.  Its chorus and overall feel deserves to have been a hit, thanks to songwriter Tom LaVarda's terrific talent.  Organist J.D. Sharp's single songwriting effort, "Key of Be," is another gem, with a bit more of a low-key style.  Second principal songwriter (along with LaVerda) Chris Michie also contributes a number of solid tunes, including joyous romp "I'm a Fool" and dark, upsetting "Blood of the Nation," which is about the wounded and orphaned children of the Vietnam War.

The live disc is much longer than the first.  It captures the Mandelbaum live sound well, in all its energy.  Exciting "Rhyme of Time" and "Message for the People" are juxtaposed with calmer numbers like "They Don't Know."  The whole thing is really terrific and definitely worthwhile for fans of psychedelic music.

Very, very recommended.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 21 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2003]