Stone Garden (1968)

The Speer brothers, Gary (guitar), Paul (guitar), and Neal (drums and piano), were at the core of what would eventually turn into Stone Garden. The Lewiston, Idaho, preteen siblings, from a musical family, took up their instruments in the early 1960s. Their father built them makeshift amplifiers out of old stereo equipment and the Three Dimensions were born. Still barely teenagers and already scoring paid gigs, the trio soon took on junior high schoolmate Dan Merrell as its full-time bass player, and with his addition adopted English-style ruffled shirts as well as a new name, Knights of Sound. The quartet made its first studio recording in 1965, and began to play routinely around Lewiston, eventually drawing the attention of aspiring manager Don Tunnell. With psychedelia in full flower, Tunnell renamed the group Stone Garden in 1967 after seeing a poster with the name. They began growing their hair long and traded in their Carnaby Street duds for Nehru jackets, and the quartet developed a repertoire loaded with songs by the Doors, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones as well as a smattering of its own original material. By 1969, Stone Garden was ready to record the latter, and a friend with a rather sophisticated basement studio helped the band to put out the "Oceans Inside Me"/"Stop My Thinking" 45 single, a pressing of 300 that actually earned significant local radio play and the notice of disc jockey Chris Adams, who became a vocal supporter of the foursome, eventually helping to get them time in a professional recording facility in Vancouver, Washington. While there Stone Garden recorded the remainder of its original material, which went unreleased until reissue label Rockadelic collected it for an eponymous 1998 LP. Gary Speer left Lewiston and the band to attend college in the fall of 1969, and was replaced by organ player and lead singer Russ Pratt. The following year, three members graduated high school, leading to additional changes. Pratt and Merrell quit and the two remaining Speer brothers recruited Charles Weisgerber and lead vocalist Rand Harrison. The latter did not work out, opening the door for the return of Gary Speer in 1971. This version of Stone Garden moved to Seattle and brought in David Lee on electric piano and vocals. Weisgerber was replaced by John Helton in the band's final incarnation, which went by the name of the Speer Brothers Band. They broke up in the early weeks of 1972. (via allmusic.com)

Popular title on the Rockadelic label and clearly above average transition document from late 60s S F Bay Area eclectisism into crude Northwest hardrock. The band was once thought to be an early version of Fraction which is not true, although their 45 (on Fraction's label) packs a similar intensity and is present here in two versions, both excellent. The LP is enjoyable all through with highpoint in a couple of hard guitarpsych excursions on side 2, and the band shows more talent and variation than the standard basement outfits from the era. Extra points for obvious teen psych remains, and even the goodtimey track about being busted for pot in S F is agreeable. One of the best of the label's more recent releases. Very nice gatefold packaging although the Stonehendge image may remind some of "Spinal Tap". (via Acid Archives)


alt. link

Stone Garden - It's a Beautiful Day


Anonymous said...

Really embodies the sixties. Sounds like the Moody Blues, the Who, and Vanilla Fudge roled into one. Great fuzz guitar.

Heavypsychman said...

Monster Heavypsych Classic!

Must hear monsters "Oceans Inside you",
"It's a beautiful day" and "Assembly Line"

Best n HEAVIEST stuff around!

Heavypsychman Sweden

Heavypsychman said...

Actually compilation 68 -69/70 from Rockadelic records Texas.

Anonymous said...

I was the leader of Stone Garden and am amazed and flattered at all the praise the group's recordings still get. Thank you so much for this great page on us.

Paul Speer