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Fifty Foot Hose - Cauldron CD (album) cover


Fifty Foot Hose


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.71 | 32 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars As the San Francisco Bay Area reflects upon the past five decades and pinpoints its gaze upon that fateful and most psychedelic year 1967, the so-called Summer Of Love when disillusioned youth turned hippies from across the globe descended on the unsuspecting Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, we are presented with only a partial snapshot of that era in time that unfolded like a hazy dream shrouded in the mystic madness by Pacific Ocean fog. While one's mind naturally gravitates towards the likes of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Janis Joplin as Summer Of Love royalty, there were in reality a ridiculous number of other local bands who were active and while not quite catching the popular music scene as the aforementioned, still left an imprint on the psyche's of those lucky enough to remember their experience once the party accoutrements had worn off.

The era consisted of myriad bands like Moby Grape, It's A Beautiful Day, Electric Flag, Dream Merchants, The Great Society and the list goes on into the hundreds, however one band was far and away THEEEE most bizarre and experimental of all. That honor goes to the ahead-of-their-time FIFTY FOOT HOSE which was the brainchild of the eccentric whims of founder Cork Marcheschi whose dual interests in the avant-garde and R&B came to head on the one and only album CAULDRON. Marcheschi started his career playing in less adventurous bands beginning with the Hide-A-Ways and ending with The Ethix which found him unleashing his first taste of the wild and unstructured when he released one twisted single called "Bad Trip." As a session musician he was introduced to guitarist David Blossom and his singing wife Nancy and then joined drummer Kim Kimsey and guitarist Larry Evans. The true psychedelic treat of 1967 was about to be released.

Marcheschi claims that his interests were more attuned to the avant-garde experimental worlds of Edgard Varèse, John Cage or Terry Riley rather than with Jefferson Airplane, but nonetheless, Blossom managed to tame his wild inhibitions with fairly catchy beatnik folk rock songs that Marcheschi would embellish with swirling swooshes of his homemade electronic instruments as well as pairing them up with theremins, fuzzboxes, a cardboard tube and even a speaker from a World War II bomber. Dave Blossom brought a psychedelic jazz guitar approach that incorporated a little of the Miles Davis cool jazz sound while Nancy played her role much like the more familiar contemporary Grace Slick. CAULDRON is aptly named as it is a boiling pot of eclectic influences all cooked together in one of the earliest musical bowls of gumbo in all the U. S. of A. In fact, i do believe that CAULDRON could very well be the first progressive rock album to emerge on the North American continent. If there are any comparisons to be made it would have be with the other California based band The United States Of America who similarly took the psychedelic folk rock sound of the day that embellished healthy doses of experimental electronica in completely revolutionary ways, however FIFTY FOOT HOSE didn't just stop there and totally went for it with one of the strangest albums to emerge in the entire 60s scene.

The head scratcher begins with the opener "And After" which is a creeping ratcheting up of woofer abuse and was how they would start their live shows which would get everyone's attention as the low bass tones would vibrate the entire building. It is a contemplative piece like drifting through space aimlessly, tension building as if the vessel had lost control and free falling into oblivion. An unlikely precursor to the more time period "If Not This Time" which despite the early avant-prog riffing that begins it, turns into a more normal folk rendition of psychedelic rock that finds the electronic sounds bending and sputtering around like a rabid animal let loose in a shopping mall.

The short electronic "Opus 777" cedes into the other psychedelic pop track "The Things That Concern You" which finds Larry Evans on the vocals while Marcheschi taking extreme liberties with the electronic accoutrements. The second short electronic track "Opus 11" ushers in the most hippie sounding rock song on the track, "Red The Sign Post" which is the closest thing to be heard on CAULDRON that resembles a true 60s psychedelic rock band with bluesy guitar licks, groovy bass and Nancy Blossom's wild and woolly vocal freak outs. The third electronic intro "For Paula" whizzes by and yields to the jazzy guitar lounge lizard exotica sounding "Rose" which gives the listener a final taste of musical sanity before the true freak out is unleashed with the mind blowing "Fantasy." This track literally is the definition of progressive psychedelic rock as a single bass line begins a multi-part journey into the unknown. As the bass reverbs in an ostinato stroll, the electronica grow more restless as do the frenetic drum rolls as your mind melts and cedes to the hypnotic groove with electronic chaos chirping around it like maddened birds. After two minutes it abruptly changes into a bluesy psychedelic rock guitar segment which lulls the listener into a comfort zone for a while before mellowing out and Nancy finally joining in after six minutes to sing about her sanity before the acid finally hits and the track literally goes nuts!

After the unhinged ending of "Fantasy," a short tribute to Billie Holliday with a cover of her "God Bless The Child" which is fairly faithful to the original minus the electronic whizzing effects. The wildest sonic experience by far is the final title track which finds total musical breakdown and the avant-garde is allowed off its leash as chimes keep an angular rhythm while Nancy erratically sings about who knows what. Her vocal style in this track reminds me a lot of the avant-prog styles ranging from Henry Cow to Thinking Plague. A jazzy bass line often punctuates the back masking of the electronics and someone having a very bad trip can be heard in the background. This must have been far too freaky for anyone really tripping during the day. My remastered CD is fluffed out with two versions of "Bad Trip" by the Ethix and several demo tracks and alternate versions. Some of these appear on other compilation albums such as "Ingredients."

Needless to say, these guys were faaaaaar out, man! Somehow they had their pulse on the psychedelic scene and prognosticated it by several years beating the German band Amon Duul II to the punch with some of the trippiest music of the decade. The electronic rock hybridization of FIFTY FOOT HOSE has been cited by many a band including Perl Abu, Chrome and Throbbing Gristle as having been the primary influence in their respective musical sounds. As with any music so bizarre and unstructured, FIFTY FOOT HOSE saw very little success during the day but they did have a small cult following. The deal knell came to the band when all the members except Marcheschi were lured away by the promise of a lucrative paycheck and joined the cast of the musical production "Hair." Marscheschi on the other hand forfeited his musical career but went on to become a world renowned sculptor. Interest in the band resurfaced during the 90s and the band has released a few compilations and live albums but CAULDRON is their swan song that went way beyond anyone dared at the time. Not quite the masterpiece some make it out to be since it has far too much of a mishmash feel to it but although it may require a few listens to sink in, this is certainly one of the most unique albums of the era that deserves more recognition than it's gotten. I've grown to really dig it!

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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