Dryewater (1974)


There are many evocations of cold, bleak landscapes in this 1974 rural rock LP that is a cut above the rest and reveals something new with every listen. The playing is frantic and wonderfully emotive, in parts it is utterly brilliant. The band mash together drums and guitars in a dense soundscape with alternately delicate and strident vocals flowing over the surface. ‘Winterground’ starts a strong downer theme that runs through the whole LP. They sound like Hickory Wind grown up, grown wiser, after having taken some hard knocks. They have transformed a back porch sound into something much bleaker and darker. The first side is full of powerful hard rock riffs with subtle country influences. The second is slower and more reflective. They have a unique sound that I would guess is borne out of rural small town ambitions to ‘make it big’. It’s a formula for success because they avoid the clichés of ‘normal’ rock and tell us something about their own lives worth hearing. [RI]

Appealing local hardrock in the melodic style, mixing CA roots/rural influences a la Zini with a tight British mainstream hardrock sound like Fuzzy Duck and vintage Deep Purple. Very skillful band with fluent fuzz and good use of keyboard, but Dryewater's strongest asset lie in the vocals which are way above average, full of soulful teenage smalltown dreams not unlike similar LPs like Felt and Top Drawer in particular. Good songwriting with hooks and riffs; borders on UK prog bombast at a few turns but comes out unscathed. Recommended to pretty much anyone into local early 70s rock sounds. Fewer covers than records were pressed, and many copies were destroyed by the band when they failed to sell out. [PL]

"Southpaw" is a highly professional sounding hard rock album: tight rhythm section, solid heavy guitar playing, excellent backing vocals, strong lead vocals. There are echoes of well-known bands, including Cream and Led Zeppelin, but the pieces come together in a way that makes it more than just a genre piece. The songwriting is varied and clever. The trebly guitar patterns, poppy choruses, brief song lengths and speedy tempos show that they’re not beholden to any idea of what hard rock should or shouldn’t be. Keyboards are used sparingly, but to nice effect, and there’s a refreshing limit to the soloing here. Satisfying throughout, with the possible exception of “Thunder,” which has pretentious vocals, and constant and annoying phased lead guitar runs. Like great albums should, it ends with its most powerful song. A great one. [AM]


"Now a highly regarded release among the collectors of early '70s U.S. rock, Dryewater's Southpaw album was privately released to little fanfare on the J.T.B. label in 1974. The North Carolina based four piece pressed just 500 copies of the album (fewer still with actual covers!) and the rarity value of this initial release has since increased as it's since become known that the band destroyed the copies they failed to sell at the time! Maybe they had higher expectations for the album, and this is justifiable, as in hindsight the ten original compositions show a very confident release by an obviously proficient line up. Strong rhythm guitar work forms the basis of most of the songs, but also evident is some melodic, perhaps slightly progressive keyboard work, that both underpins the occasional acid lead guitar solos and maintains the overall momentum of each performance. With a tight rhythm section and strong vocals too, this all makes for a rockin' rollercoaster ride. A fine example of the harder West Coast sound of the time. Check out the melodic "Don't Let Her Sleep Too Long," the riff-heavy track 2, and rolling rhythms of track 10, Dryewater were certainly overlooked at the time. A limited vinyl run released by Void Records in 1996 briefly led to a renewed interest in the band, but thankfully Radioactive can now finally pull the album from obscurity as it makes its digital debut here." (buy it)


Dryewater - Set Out On the River


Manu said...

Hello from Spain,
A shame no one left a comment yet, so I'll say it myself: this album
A million thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hi from France, could you please reactivate this link. Thank you so much in advance.

Anonymous said...

I have an original copy of this album, the bass guitarist was married briefly to my aunt. I am not really into this kind of music, it holds a sentimental value for me. A bonus, my copy has an album cover!!