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Sons of Adam - Saturday's Sons - Complete Recordings 1964-1966

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 7 / 1 / 2023

Sons of Adam - Saturday's Sons - Complete Recordings  1964-1966
Label: Select Label
Format: N/A


In our Re:View section, in which our writers look back at records from the past, Malcolm Carter celebrates a brlliantly produced double CD package of 60's cult band The Sons Of Adam’s complete output.

There have been many reissues of ‘60s and ‘70s recordings especially over the last few years, many of which have been lovingly packaged even if the actual songs contained therein didn’t live up to being unleashed again (or even for the first time). Despite strong competition in 2022 if I had to choose a package for special mention (disregarding major names on major labels) then High Moon’s 2CD release of The Sons Of Adam’s complete recordings would be the one to go for. It had me just on the back cover: produced for release by Alec Palao, mastered by Dan Hersch, designed by Steve Stanley, what more could we wish for? With a 48-page booklet complete with fascinating and informative notes from Palao I can think of nothing more. It’s a lovingly compiled, brilliantly produced package. The Sons Of Adam meant little in the UK but obviously, as we will discover, what was happening in the UK at the time didn’t go unnoticed by the band. This compilation – the band never released an album during their lifetime – features the singles that took them from being called The Fender IV to The Sons Of Adam. To complete it, there are seven songs by the former band, all written by guitarist Randy Holden, including a co-write with fellow band member Jac Ttanna tagged onto the end of the CD. The Fender IV were a surf band, influenced in no small part by Duane Eddy, Dick Dale and The Ventures. The sides here are steeped in what we would now call the surf sound. They morphed into The Sons Of Adam when surf music declined in popularity, taking a harder rock/psych direction. While some regarded them as just another snotty punky combo, the dexterity of the musicians involved made sure they were never merely just another garage band. In 1969 lead guitarist Randy Holden would join Blue Cheer, albeit for just one side of their third album, ‘New! Improved! Blue Cheer’, his remarkable skill on the guitar still very much in evidence. Drummer Michael Stuart went on to join Love. The Sons Of Adam recorded (without Holden) Arthur Lee’s ‘Feathered Fish’, a track Love never recorded. The band’s history is littered with interesting snippets like this, and the booklet enclosed with the CD tells the whole story: all you ever need to know about their fascinating history. For fans of garage rock, psych and early metal it’s worth the price of the package alone. The nine tracks from The Sons Of Adam are presented in superb quality. The self-penned (Holden/Ttanna) ‘Take My Hand’ shows that, unlike many garage bands, this group could actually sing and hold a tune. Maybe it’s the era but, especially on this track, they sound like a hybrid of early Beatles and Stones – never a bad thing – and these guys seem to have found the right combination. A surprise is the band’s take on ‘Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day’, a Tommy Boyce and Steve Venet co-write which many will remember from The Monkees’ version. An edgier cut than the one we all know but the fact that the band covered Monkees material is surprising given what we had expected from them. In fact the garage band tag fades even more with another song from Ttanna and Holden, ‘I Told You Once Before’, a sensitive reading with harmonies which again show how some preconceived ideas about the band have been taken too seriously through the years. Their take on The Zombies ‘You Make Me Feel Good’ (the b-side of ‘She’s Not There) again shows the band’s mellow side. While it’s not expected for anyone to sing quite like Colin Blunstone, it’s a more than decent reading of the song. Two other originals feature: ‘Without Love’ and ‘Baby Show The World’ were penned by bassist Mike Pott, the former another ballad which wouldn’t have sounded out of place on The Zombies ‘Odessey And Oracle’ album, it’s that good. ‘Baby Show The World’ is more what The Sons Of Adam seem to be known for, a raucous burst of rock complete with psychedelic guitar, the menacing bass pushing the song along. ‘You’re A Better Man Than I’ is another indication that The Sons Of Adam were keeping an eye on what was happening over the water: written by Manfred Mann’s Mike Hugg along with his brother Brian, it was best known in the UK for The Yardbirds cover of it, on the B-side of ‘Shapes Of Things’, while in The States Terry Knight And The Pack’s version might have made more waves. Lou Josie’s ‘Saturday’s Son’ also takes the garage band route as does the aforementioned ‘Feathered Fish’ which, not surprisingly, brings some of Love’s more rockier recordings to mind. So that leaves the opening eight tracks, which are a live set recorded by Bob Cohen at The Avalon Ballroom on August 6, 1966 and what a revelation this set is. On a compilation like this, because the label doesn’t want the listener to be put off by the fact were not so hot live, the live material is often tacked on to the end of the disc. But here the compilers have wisely put this blistering set right where it belongs: as the introduction to an underrated band. The sound is absolutely brilliant for a live set. It’s presented in stereo and is crystal-clear while still highlighting why we think of The Sons Of Adam as a hard rock/psychedelic band. It opens with their version of Solomon Burke’s oft-covered ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love’ rocking it up to six minutes, infectious and displaying from the off that it wasn’t only Holden’s searing guitar that made this band so special. The vocals are outstanding, especially for a live cut, and even the short drum solo is fascinating. Four of the songs are Holden/Ttanna co-writes, none of which are featured as studio takes and which, in turns, show their love of Beatles and Stones. To further show their admiration of British bands there’s a version of Graham Gouldman’s ‘Evil Hearted You’ – made famous by The Yardbirds. Jeff Beck’s replacement in that group should have been obvious: Holden’s guitar work is not just impressive, it’s breathtaking. The set ends with a storming eight-minute version of Them’s ‘Gloria’. If your mind hasn’t already been blown by the preceding 20 or so minutes it will be now. Every musician on that stage is on fire, and I pity any band that had to follow The Sons Of Adam after this. Holden’s guitar here surely cemented his reputation as one of the best and most inventive guitarists of this or any era, and the band gel as one here, no matter who is taking the spotlight at any given moment. In over five decades of listening to music, and not being keen on live albums, this set rates as one of the best live sets I’ve heard on record. Kudos to High Moon and all concerned in getting this package and especially the music out to us. Even among all the fantastic re-issues this year, ‘Saturday’s Sons’ is one of the best, and possibly even the best of all.

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Sons of Adam - Saturday's Sons - Complete Recordings  1964-1966

Sons of Adam - Saturday's Sons - Complete Recordings  1964-1966

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