Monday, December 08, 2008

Fever Tree - For Sale Creation


Fever Tree:

Dennis Keller (vocals)
Rob Landes (keyboards)
E.E. Wolfe (bass)
Michael Knust (guitar)
John Tuttle (drums)

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. Their pretty, wistful ballads (enhanced on their first album by arranger David Angel, who had also worked on Love's classic Forever Changes) endure better than their dirge-like fuzz grinders, which epitomize some of the more generic aspects of heavy psychedelia. Releasing four albums (the third of which, Creation, included guest guitar by future ZZ Top axeman Billy Gibbons), their records grew weaker and more meandering with time, and the group disbanded in 1970.



01-I Put a Spell on You02-You're Not the Same Baby03-She Comes in Colors04-Hey Mister05-Come on In06-Girl Oh Girl Don't Push Me07-Hey Joe
08-Woman, Woman09-Love Make the Sunrise10-Catcher in the Rye11-Wild Woman Ways12-Fever Glue13-Run Past My Window14-Imitation Situation15-Time is Now16-The God Game

For Sale:Though credited as a Fever Tree release, 1970's ironically-titled "For Sale" was little more than a collection of the earlier Mainstream sides (which may have been rerecorded) and leftover Uni-era odds and ends. A quick glance at the liner notes indicated the band had basically collapsed with keyboardist Rob Landis and drummer John Tuttle credited as 'formerly of Fever Tree'. Their places were taken by former Byrds drummer Kevin Kelley, keyboardist Grant Johnson, and various members of the Wrecking Crew and The Blackberries on ill thought out backing vocals. In an online interview guitarist Michael Knust expressed few memories of working on the LP. In fact the only track he seemed to have any recollections of were putting lead guitar on the group's cover of Love's 'She Comes In Colors'. Most of the material was less than impressive with Keller sounding particularly uninspired (on a couple of tracks like You're Not the Same Baby'' he actually sounded like he was singing with marbles in his mouth). As for the side long 'Hey Joe' cover - well ... it was long. For his part lead guitarist Michael Knust was all but absent from the proceedings. That left the two Mainstream songs ('Hey Mister' and 'Girl Don't Push Me') and the Love cover as the album highlights.
Creation:After a year long separation, Uni management convinced the band to regroup and relocate to California. Again produced by husband and wife team of Scott and Vivian Holzman, 1969's "Creation" was actually far better than circumstances should have allowed. Reuniting in the wake of earlier and ongoing personality issues, the fact they were actually able to complete an album was quite an accomplishment. The fact that so much of the LP was worthwhile was even more impressive. With the Holzmans again responsible for the majority of the nine tracks, musically the set was far more diverse and commercial than the sophomore set. That was particularly true for three songs penned by Jancy Lee Tyler (anyone know who she was?). Complete with female backing vocalists, the opener 'Woman, Woman' spotlighted Keller doing his most commercial Jim Morrison vamp, while 'Wild Woman Ways' and 'Run Past My Window' would have sounded fine on top-40 radio. Sporting a pretty melody and a string arrangement, the Holzmans' 'Love Makes the Sun Rise' was even more radio-friendly. In case anyone was under the impression the group had completely sold out '' and '' were more conventional rockers, while 'Fever Glue' provided the mandatory blues number. Uni apparently did little in the realm of promotional support, though they tapped the album for a pair of singles in the form of: The Doorsy 'Catcher In the Rye' b/w 'What Time Did You Say It Is In Salt Lake City' (Uni catalog number 55202) and 'Love Makes the Sun Rise' b/w 'Filigree and Shadow'


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