Heavy Prog • United States

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Haystacks Balboa biography
No-nonsense powerhouse of a Heavy Prog act, HAYSTACKS BALBOA - a name coined by a friend of the VAGRANTS in reference to the large size and resemblance of BALBOA's guitarist, Mark MAYO, to wrestler Haystacks Calhoun - was from Queens,NY, and released one album on Polydor in 1970 (which has since been reissued as 'Detoxified').

The band formed in '69 and in addition to MAYO's guitar playing, featured Mark BABANI's drums, Lloyd LANDESMAN's keys, the bass of Mark POLOTT, and voice of Bruce SCOTT in a dark mix of stoner hardrock and prog adventure with extended passages. Evidently two of the cuts were penned by Leslie WEST's brother Larry and HAYSTACKS BALBOA has been compared to MOUNTAIN and BLACK SABBATH but exhibit a more traditional Prog approach than either of those groups and should amuse fans of yer old-tyme Prog 'n Roll.

- Atavachron (David) -

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Haystacks BalboaHaystacks Balboa
Aurora 2014
Audio CD$12.37
$16.14 (used)
Haystacks Balboa by Haystacks Balboa [Music CD]Haystacks Balboa by Haystacks Balboa [Music CD]
Audio CD$40.73
spoiler / bruce's twist 45 rpm singlespoiler / bruce's twist 45 rpm single
Vinyl$15.00 (used)
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2.56 | 8 ratings

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Detoxified by HAYSTACKS BALBOA album cover Studio Album, 1970
2.56 | 8 ratings

Haystacks Balboa Heavy Prog

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars During the summer of 1970, a pre-Woodstock music festival was planned to be held in Connecticut. But the Power Ridge Rock Festival, facing a legal injunction, was doomed to failure and high strangeness after being canceled only to have 30,000 people show-up in quiet Middlefield, Conn., expecting three days of sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll including bands as Jethro Tull, The Allmans, Janis, Fleetwood Mac, and Zeppelin. It became one of the great non-events in rock history.

One of the smaller groups scheduled was Haystacks Balboa, a hornet's nest of a progressive hard-rock quintet that, though rooted in the Sabbaths, Creams, and Mountains of their day, was just as comfortable with the deep trance avant-garde cabarets of Jim Morrison as they were with Keith Emerson's knack for classicus deconstructus. Not to mention the tongue-in-cheek satanic lyrics. Without doubt they were a fun band, and talented, too. Rousing 'Spoiler' has the tasty mix of heavy blues and progressive rhythm they were so good at, Bruce Scott's eager and perfectly off vocals working against the riffage; Lloyd Landesman's warm Hammond carries somewhat abrasive 'The Children of Heaven'; Playful bluesrock 'Bruce's Twist'; And 9-minute love story 'Auburn Queen' takes from Emerson's days with The Nice (e.g. Bernstein's 'America') complete with numerous hallucinogenic explorations and a melodious ending. Leslie West's bro, Larry, helped pen 'Sticky Finger' layered with Hendrix attitude and imagery but the light acoustic psych in 'Ode to the Silken Man' returns to the more familiar Mountainous sounds, and simple Simon & Garfunkel pastorals of sweet 'Riverland' closes.

This is one of those albums I would never seriously recommend to, well, anyone. Not in good conscience. It's just too big a gamble. But Haystacks Balboa were a legitimate if unruly heavy prog band that, in the context of the time, held their own among the scoundrels.


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