Pulse (1969)

Born out of the ashes of two local bands, The Bram Rigg Set and The Shags, this New Haven (CT) septet were originally known as The Pulse of Burritt Bradley after a name on a headstone, long before Dickie Betts’ famed encounter with Elizabeth Reed! In fact, it was also the name of the creepy, spoken word, suitable-for-Halloween flip side of their 1967 debut 45 on Atco (both sides of that single are included as bonus tracks). Originally released the following year on their producer’s tiny Poison Ring label, the album is chock full of bluesy jamming, a la Cream and Blue Cheer (whose debut was also released earlier in ’68), and actually predates the debuts of future genre heavyweights like Led Zeppelin and Grand Funk Railroad. Hearing this for the first time, nearly 40 years after the fact, I was amazed at how much the pounding, driving rhythm of opener, “Too Much Livin’” foretells an amazingly similar rhythmic thrust of The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues,” which was still two years down the road. Peter Neri’s searing guitar solo and Jeffrey Potter’s wailing harmonica solo imbue “Another Woman” with a gritty, Canned Heat vibe. Richard Bednarczyk’s boogie-woogie piano rolls add a bar room shuffle to the down home, good time funk of “Thanks For Thinking Of Me,” which also predates the sweaty, bluesy snarl of Humble Pie and Mountain. Vocalist Carl Donnell is certainly from the Leslie West school of throat shredding vocal pyrotechnics and it’s his tendency to go off the deep end a little too often that’s been known to turn off a few listeners.

“She’s Killing Me” has a distinct Cream and Hendrix aroma, featuring another of Neri’s tasty solos. “Garden of Love” also predates Led Zep’s penchant for tossing the odd, change of pace, acoustic ballad in to the mix. So fans of their more reflective moments like “What Is and What Should Never Be,” “Thank You,” “Over The Hills and Far Away” or “Boogie With Stu” will really dig this one. There’s even a little pre-Sabbath satanic rock weaving through “Amassilation,” which sounds like a term they invented on the spot!

The band reportedly continued in this vein for a number of years, but unfortunately never achieved the success that many bands playing in this same territory would enjoy, so here’s your opportunity to experience a true, blues rock artifact. (review by Jeff Penczak @ Foxy Digitalis)

"Augusto and Violante went back to the drawing board at Cavalier's studio with former members of the Bram Rigg Set to form Pulse, a truly heavy and competent rock unit whose sound reflected the dark mood of 1968. "1968 was one of the most tumultuous years in American history," remembers Augusto. "It started with the Tet Offensive in Vietnam where Americans got slapped into reality; Lyndon Johnson decided not to run; Martin Luther King and [Robert] Kennedy were assassinated; race riots occurred in major cities in the summer; and then there was the violence at the Chicago Democratic Convention. That was a very, very, very scary year, and, you know, some of us were wondering - is this country really gonna make it?"

With this angst coming through in Augusto's singing, Pulse (originally named "The Pulse of Burritt Bradley," after a name they saw on a grave stone) released two singles: "Can Can Girl" / "Burritt Bradley" and "My Old Boy" / "Another Woman". Pulse initially included Augusto, Violante, Bennett Segal (drums), Peter Neri (lead guitar), Richard "Sno Whyte" Bednarzcyk (organ), and Paul Rosanno and Lance Gardner both playing bass. The group honed their skills for almost a year just jamming in the studio, but by the time their first album was released both Violante and Gardner had departed. The self-titled LP Pulse was a real accomplishment. Not only was the playing and songwriting solid, the heavy style and complex arrangements seem a few years ahead of their time. The fact that the band had not yet heard Led Zeppelin is, indeed, remarkable. Kids in Germany and France took particular notice, and the band received overseas royalties from these recordings. "I was amazed a couple of years ago," said Augusto, "when a colleague of mine found the Pulse album on Amazon.com. It had been pressed to CD by a small label."

Pulse lasted only as long as the Shags did, however, since Augusto was not satisfied with his singing. "My voice wasn't bad," he said, "but I knew that I wasn't good enough to make it big. I was in graduate school to be a rehabilitation counselor for people who are blind or visually impaired, and that began to eclipse my ambitions to be a rock star." His decision to leave Pulse seems to be the right one, since Augusto is now the President and CEO of the American Foundation for the Blind, headquartered in New York City. (excerpt from the Story of the Shags by Brent Hopkins) (BUY IT!)



Anonymous said...

Many thanks!!!

Anonymous said...

Many Thanks!!!!

psychfan said...

Thanks for this one, I'm enjoying it a lot.