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Mad River/Paradise Bar & Grill

4.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 13, 2001
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Merciful Monks
  2. High All The Time
  3. Amphetamine Gazelle
  4. Eastern Light
  5. Wind Chimes
  6. The War Goes On
  7. Hush, Julian
  8. Harfy Amgnum
  9. Paradise Bar & Grill
  10. Love's Not The Way To Treat A Friend
  11. Leave Me Stay
  12. Cooper Plates
  13. Equinox
  14. They Brought Sadness
  15. Revolution's In My Pockets
  16. Academy Cemetery
  17. Cherokee Queen


Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 13, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Collector's Choice
  • Run Time: 76 minutes
  • ASIN: B0000584UQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #374,622 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stephen F Mulcahy on March 15, 2001
Format: Audio CD
mad river were an unjustly obscure bay area late 60's band -actually the group originated in yellow springs, ohio. the group played a wide variety of music- psychedelic rock, country, jazz, bluegrass,folk,and quite a few more. somebody once said, and correctly, that they were weird even for the time. mad river's first album is pretty demented, it was apparently recorded at the wrong speed. consequently, some of this may remind one of captain beefheart or frank zappa in places. the bizarre lyrics, crazy vocals, and insane guitars of tracks like THE WAR GOES ON, and AMPHETAMINE GAZELLE will probably astonish and delight listeners at the same time. mad river featured two strong vocalists in leader Lawrence Hammond, and drummer Gregory Dewey ( who later appeared in Country Joe and the Fish and Grootna), and solid if often challenging playing from rick bockner, dave robinson,and tom manning. mad river is a generally very good, if sometimes difficult first album, and one should also check out their e.p., available on the berkeley ep's cd in the nuggets of the golden state series from big beat. this includes early versions of AMPHETAMINE GAZELLE and WIND CHIMES from the debut, as well as a fine and eerie track called ORANGE FIRE (an anti-Vietnam song featuring some absolutely blistering guitar work) As this track is unavailable elsewhere, and the ep also contains some first rate work from country joe, frumious bandersnatch , and notes from the underground. Paradise bar and grill,the follow up, was even better. While ACADEMY CEMETERY (featuring some great percussion)and LEAVE ME STAY reminded listeners of their earlier work, overall the album was more reminiscent of , say, Creedence or the Band, particularly on the beautiful and brilliant title cut, COPPER PLATES, and REVOLUTION'S IN MY POCKETS.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
While some prefer Mad River's 1968 super-psychedelic debut album, I prefer their second (and final) album, "Paradise Bar & Grill." It's still psychedelic, but with a twisted country flavor, and the song structures are more traditional than their wild debut album. "Copper Plates" and the song "Paradise Bar & Grill" are like twisted country songs on acid. "Cherokee Queen" (written by ex-SDS president Carl Oglesby and the only cover song on the album) is just a great country rock tune. I still don't know what it's about, but it is haunting. The aching acoustic song "Love's Not the Way to Treat a Friend" features a touching spoken vocal by Haight-Ashbury poet laureate, the late lamented Mr. Richard Brautigan. Really, Mad River should get more credit for helping to pioneer the country rock scene, along with the Byrds. Breaking up in 1969, Mad River only ever put out two albums, which is a damn shame. The country rock boom was just around the corner; I bet they could of cashed some checks in the early 1970s if they stayed together.
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Mad River's first album has always been essential to any San Fransisco Sound collection. Along with Country Joe & The Fish, they defined the unique Berkeley rock scene. Although they weren't invited to perform at Monterey Pop, they set up a stage on a large trailer outside the venue and played a legendary set that got a lot of buzz at the time. I could best describe their sound as a 'dark psychedelia'; lots of minor chording like CJ Fish, but even weirder. Tight, jazzy arrangements, amazing guitar playing, and haunting lyrics. Songs like "Amphetamine Gazelle" and "High All The Time" are classics from the stoned age. Definitely not as cheery as The Dead or Jefferson Airplane though!

If you had the first CD edition of Mad River's first album, produced in the UK by the Edsel label, you know that the sound quality was quite mediocre. That's because they just ripped an original vinyl LP to CD without doing any mastering from the original tapes. This remaster presents the original source tapes of this album for the first time, at let me tell you, it makes a HUGE difference. The first album sounds so dynamic and rich on this release. You really need to replace your old copy of Mad River with this one. And, as a bonus, you get Mad River's even more obscure second and final album along with it. Paradise Bar & Grill has a lot of acoustic work on it and some good songs ("Revolution's in My Pockets"), but I don't I like it quite as much as their first effort. Still, it's nice to have their whole recorded legacy in one set.
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When MAD RIVER released their first (1968) album, it was met with decidedly mixed reviews-most of them not all that complimentary. The main gripes were Lawrence Hammond's vocals, the arrangements, and the sped-up sound of the album itself. I still own the first original vinyl album, and remember generally agreeing with most critics. For me, Hammond's voice was an acquired taste at best, and the sound of the album was irritating. But I did like some of the instrumental passages in some of the songs. It had that slightly trippy, Bay Area, COUNTRY JOE & THE FISH sound in the guitars which I liked. This two album collection floats somewhere between 3 and 3 1/2 "stars" depending on your likes/dislikes of the vocals or anything else.

But MAD RIVER never became remotely famous compared to other area bands. Besides the real (incorrect mastering) and perceived problems (vocals, arrangements) of the first album, the bands (1969) second album had a country feel to it. And even though three of that albums tracks were recorded during sessions for the first album, whatever identity the band did have was largely gone. The heavier guitar arrangements were replaced with acoustic guitars. Listen to the first track, an instrumental featuring several acoustic guitars-a long way from the first albums sound and feel. Or try the track featuring writer Richard Brautigan (a personal favorite since those early days) and the band. Not exactly what listeners of the first album were prepared for.

But hindsight is sometimes a good thing. Listening now to the first album (mastered correctly) brings back that whole period in the Bay Area.
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