Wednesday, 6 January 2016

White Summer - self titled [1976] vinyl re-issue

Here's a review of the first official vinyl re-issue of White Summer's privately-pressed 1976 album. For a private release, the album has a great production, each instrument stands out, and the sound is easily on a par with major label records. There is an extremely diverse mix of rural rock, humour, funk, heavy metal and existential prog here, the band are just doing what ever they like without any pressure to sound a particular way.

"Without A Sound" opens the album in a subdued way. It's a plaintive electric folk song with picked guitar and great bluesy licks, at two minutes long it serves as an nice intro to the album and shows some of the diversity within. Second track "BMF" turns up the heat with an intentionally misleading funk disco riff and lyrics that seem to be poking fun at such things, which develops into a great heavy southern rock riff one third-in. The simple lyrics layout the band's mission statement; "Let us play for you, some funky tunes, you know we do some rock an pop, but we like heavy metal blues. I just wanna play music, every day!".

Track three "Misty Morning" continues the heavy Southern rock riffage and the fourth track, "Sail" is the first long, experimental track. Mostly instrumental but with a vocal section in the middle, it goes through many textures including Latin and jazz rhythms by the end. Next track, "The Tank", is another longer one with minimal vocals which also goes through many phases including some brooding acid psych, ending on a really heavy coda.

Track six "Riding High" is definitely a highlight for me. As you can guess from the title it's a road song that would have gone perfectly on the Vanishing Point soundtrack, "Picked up a hiker, turned me on to a high....cruising down the highway, feeling free as the wind, I don't know where I'm going, I don't know where I been". Musically, it's one of the most directly rocking tunes on the album and keeps up the pace all the way through.

Towards the end are a couple of upbeat country rockers about lost loves, "All Good Things" & "For Your Smile", and "Laugh When I Die" takes a dramatic turn in pitch with with a downer-rocker that has some super heavy, almost Sabbathian doom riffs. The album ends on White Summer's nine minute prog epic. Using a ton of studio effects and existential lyrics which battle things out between God and Satan, it reminds me a little of J. D. Blackfoot's "The Ultimate Prophecy".

So, I am left feeling reminded a little of Captain Beyond's debut. White summer don't employ an over-all concept like that record did, and they certainly don't take things as seriously, but Rick Lowe (guitar and vocals) does an amazing job, his vocals sound like Rod Evans and all the songs are packed with bluesy leads and note bending that really emphasises the Southern rock influences.

Retail links: Vinyl or CD. (These both also have digital download links)

01. Without A Sound 2:08
02. BMF 2:30
03. Misty Morning 2:45
04. Sail 6:22
05. The Tank 5:12
06. Ridin High 3:13
07. All Good Things 2:30
08. For Your Smile 2:19
09. Laugh When I Die 3:41
10. Omega 8:53

The Following is taken from :-

"First ever vinyl reissue with original artwork of this US private pressing from 1976.
Progressive hard- rock with psychedelic touches, melodic vocals, top level musicianship and stunning lead guitar all over.

Originally from Benton Harbor, Michigan, White Summer was formed in 1973 by a trio of eighteen- year- olds who shared a mutual love for Hendrix, Cream and Grand Funk among others. They were: Jim Watkins (drums and vocals), Rick Lowe (guitar and vocals) and David Wheeler (bass). White Summer played many shows at high school dances, outdoor festivals and nightclubs, becoming in the following years one of the top rock acts not only in Michigan but also in Florida, where they relocated at the end of the 70s.

White Summer’s first album, known as the “White Album” due to its simple design, was recorded at Uncle Dirty's Sound Machine Studio in Kalamazoo, Michigan, by Bryce Roberson who had formerly been an engineer at Chess Records. Self- financed by the band, 1000 copies were pressed and sold in the Michigan area.

Sought- after by collectors worldwide, this is the first ever reissue featuring original artwork.
24- bit domain professional remaster from a mint original vinyl copy (master tapes were lost).
Insert with liner notes by original member James Watkins and a previously unseen photo"

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