Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Stillroven - Too Many Spaces (1968)

The band known as the Stillroven began in the Minneapolis suburb of Robbinsdale, MN. It was 1965, and their original name was "the Syndicate," a name they thought should be changed when original guitarist Mark Moorhead left the band in 1966. The original lineup also consisted of bassist Rock Peterson, guitarist John Howarth, keyboardist Dave Dean, and drummer Phil Berdahl. When Moorhead left, they recruited Dan Kane to take his spot and changed their name, eventually recording "She's My Woman"/"(I'm Not Your) Stepping Stone" for Falcoln that year. There were only 50 copies printed for radio stations, but their next single was the first one that the public had access to. "Hey Joe"/"Sunny Day" was a hit in their hometown, but that was not enough for Peterson and Kane, who departed the same year. The band found a new bassist and guitarist in Dave Berget and Jim Larkin respectively, and soon was recording their next singles. "Little Picture Playhouse"/"Cast Thy Burden Upon the Stone" was hailed as a hallucinogenic masterpiece by garage rock enthusiasts, but the average music fan did not catch on to the regional popularity they enjoyed in Minneapolis. Their manager moved to Tucson, AZ, where he continued to guide their career from a distance. Larkin and Berget left the band as quickly as they came, being replaced by bassist Mike Flaherty and guitarist Mike O'Gara. They recorded a fourth single under this lineup, "Come in the Morning"/"Necessary Person," but after the first 100 copies printed there was enough internal dissension to have "Come in the Morning" pulled from the single and replaced with a cover of the Small Faces' "Tell Me Have You Ever Seen Me." This would be the last release from the band, as they quietly broke up toward the end of 1968. A career retrospective, Cast Thy Burden Upon the Stillroven, was released in 1996 to appease garage band enthusiasts who had been waiting for more material from the group. The album included many unreleased songs, as well as a few tracks that were originally on compilations. Rumor has it that the band has an entire album recorded from 1968 that has never seen the light of day, and Sundazed Records has even promised a release of the album.

The Stillroven - Too Many Spaces
Label: Sundazed Music ‎– SC 6041 2003

The Stillroven: 
Dave Rivkin, Mike O'Gara (vocals, guitar);
Dave Berget (vocals, bass); 
Dave Dean (keyboards); 
Phil Berdahl (drums).
Recorded at Universal Audio, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 1968, A&M Studios, Los Angeles, California, between October and November 1968, and Norman Petty Studios, Clovis, New Mexico, April 1969.

Pieced together from September 1968 demos in Minneapolis, auditions for A&M recorded in Los Angeles in October and November 1968 (including re-recordings of three of the four Minneapolis demos), and (just one song from) an April 1969 session at Norman Petty Studios in New Mexico, this amounts to an unreleased Stillroven album. Though the sound is very professional, it's only average late-'60s psychedelic rock, influenced by the day's heavy blues-rock, California acid sound, and a little bit of soul. Funky backbeats, wah-wah guitars, drifting melancholy melodies (particularly "Girl in Blonde," which could pass for an unknown 1968 San Francisco rock recording), good-time get-in-the-groove urges ("Can You Dig It?"), relatively light good-time sounds ("Happiness Is"), and son-of-Youngbloods country-influenced happy rock ("Country Tune") -- they all surface at various points. The result is a versatile set and certainly performed with competent tightness, but lacking in character. You can't fault the documentation, though, which has thorough liner notes and track-by-track commentary from the group's Dave Dean and Phil Berdahl. 


  1. Thanks D&J great post!

  2. Superb post D & J

    Many thanks, Albert

  3. Just to let you know that the font you're using for the titles of blog entry is not fully visible.


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