Rayburn was an amazing hard rock band from Little Rock, Arkansas that formed in 1970 and played in a moody and technical style with inventive songwriting. Their unreleased recordings are must for fans of underground psych and prog sounds. They recorded for Mega Records, an RCA records subsidiary, and got signed to the label. However their success was cut short when one the band member's father's, who was co-owner of one of the biggest investment banks in the country, went to the label and bought Rayburn's recording contract out from under them in order to derail his son's music career. Over the next two years, the band recorded at Jaggars Studio in Little Rock and for Steve Cropper's TMI studio in Memphis, but the band's second chance at fame continued to elude them. In 1974, guitarist Jimmy Roberts' life was cut short when he developed cancer at the age of 21. Three years later in 1977, the band reunited to record more songs from their early 70s era that they never got a chance to record with Roberts. For the first time in over 30 years, Rayburn reunited for a live concert in their hometown of Little Rock, AR in July of 2009. With the help of the band member's musical children, the 2009 version of Rayburn was a tribute and reboot of the original group with the meeting of two generations to celebrate the music of the past. At the concert, their reel to reel demos from 1972-1977 were released on CD, featuring a full color 12 page book compiled and researched by Harold Ott. This was a supremely talented group that was gone too fast and held back from the world. With this release, Psych of the South attempts to correct that injustice with a CD of 14 of Rayburn's original compositions heard here for the first time.
Gotta love when little labels like Psych of the South unearth from the vaults gems like the unreleased recordings from Rayburn, a practically unknown prog/hard rock band from Little Rock, Arkansas in the early 1970's. Rayburn's tale is one that will sound familiar to anyone who has had a band who came 'this close' to getting signed by a major label, only to have it fall through, leaving the band to fall into obscurity before the world could hear their music. Fast forward more than 30 years to 2009, when Psych of the South got a hold of the Rayburn recordings after the band played a reunion concert, and the resulting CD is now available to the public. While the music of Rayburn is not the most original you will ever hear, if you like acts such as Deep Purple, Gentle Giant, Yes, Iron Butterfly, Starcastle, Mirthrander, Happy the Man, and Vanilla Fudge, chances are you will really enjoy this talented group. Plenty of Hammond B3 and electric guitar jams going on here, especially on tunes such as "Your Mind", "Got to Get Ready to Die", and "Steam Shuffle", courtesy of Steve Stephens and Jimmy Roberts, who really scratch your itch for the pairings of Lord/Blackmore, Howe/Wakeman, or Minnear/Green.Though none of the tracks are overly heavy, many of them do rock quite a bit, and they are interspersed with the more melodic, atmospheric numbers like "Said, I Love Only You", and "Righteous Man", which have just enough symphonic and folk elements to please the prog rock fans. There's no shortage of jangly, intricate guitar patterns (hence the Yes & Gentle Giant reference), and Stephens also pulls out his piano and Moog a bit as well. Lead vocals are very well done, and shared by the band, and the talented bassist Mack Price and drummer Robbie Carder round out the group. When the band is really on and firing on all cylinders, as they are on the bluesy hard rock of "The Trail is Gone", the Hammond freak out "Saltless Tears", or the psych/prog ramblings of "America", the results are quite fun, and really make you wish the band scored that record deal way back in the day. As with many of these 'unearthed treasures', don't expect superior sound quality here, but take this for what it is, a little slice of history from a solid little band that never quite made it. With a neat booklet featuring the bands history and plenty of photos, this is a great piece of prog/hard rock history for all those interested to savor for years to come. --Sea of Tranquility website
I d like you to set your the time machine to the early seventies...maybe even the late sixties so that you can check out a band from Arkansas called Rayburn. Imagine the time where prog was just morphing out from its psychedelic cocoon. Groups of all stripes were excited about experimenting with new instruments and incorporating new styles of music and all the while getting away from the standard 3-minute pop song. Rayburn was one of those bands that never got their fair share of attention, until now that is. The quartet consisted of Mack Price (bass, vocals), Jimmy Roberts (guitar, vocals, piano), Robbie Carder (drums, vocals) and Steve Stephens (Hammond B3, piano, Moog, vocals). The ayburn CD has been lovingly assembled by the good folks at Psych of the South and is made up of 14 tracks that cover the full range of music produced by the band. Call it Proto-prog if you like but it s prog that in many respects resembles the music of early Yes, both in terms of guitar style, organ sounds and arrangements. Still Rayburn were able to inject a lot of their own feel into these compositions and some of the material has more in common with the fading psychedelic era especially some of the guitar and vocal styles. Length of songs here is all over the map. While the band could write a 2 or 3 minute pop tune, they weren t afraid to stretch out and some of the songs are over six or eight minutes. The Yes influence is most obvious on track one Your Mind [3:13] in particular the way the guitar is played and also how the song is arranged. However it s the vocals that confirm the song as part of Rayburn s repertoire as they sound nothing like Yes. This track even appears three times here in slightly different versions. The band was not shy about experimenting with adventurous arrangements and song structure. Even some of the shorter tracks provide numerous musical change-ups. Most of these tracks were written and recorded in the very early seventies and feature that distinctive bass, guitar and organ as the up-front musical sounds that will certainly take you back to the early days of the progressive rock movement. If you enjoy digging into the past and listening to music that never had the chance to be heard when it was originally made, this is definitely a disc you need to get your hands on. To my ears Rayburn was yet another band who never had the opportunity to reach a wider audience which is too bad because the music for its day was really good. The musicianship was quite accomplished, even adventurous and certainly deserves our attention now that it s available on CD. This is early styled prog at its best; with no pretense other than the desire to create music that was out of the mainstream. And on that score Rayburn is 100% successful! This is a great disc. --The Progressive Rock Files - Jerry Lucky