Transatlantic Railroad

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Transatlantic Railroad was one of many late-'60s San Francisco psychedelic bands that did their share of live work in the region but barely recorded, remaining known almost exclusively to those who saw…
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Transatlantic Railroad was one of many late-'60s San Francisco psychedelic bands that did their share of live work in the region but barely recorded, remaining known almost exclusively to those who saw them play. Based on the material that showed up in the early 2000s on the archival release Express to Oblivion, their talent was such that it didn't absolutely demand a record release. Still, their bluesy psychedelia, heavy on guitar soloing and organ as well as unpredictable multi-sectioned original compositions, was representative of the second or third division of northern California psychedelic bands of the era.

The group formed at San Rafael High School in Marin County in 1965, and on its first show opened for the Grateful Dead, the night the Dead changed their name from the Warlocks. A couple of unreleased 1966 tracks in a garage-folk-rock style showed up about 30 years later on the '60s Bay Area rarities compilation What a Way to Come Down. Like many other groups from the area, Transatlantic Railroad moved into a harder psychedelic style shortly afterward, and released just one single, "Why Me"/"Irahs," on the Sire subsidiary Phoenix in 1968. They also started work on an album, but it was abandoned after five demos. It's been reported (in the psychedelic rock reference book Fuzz Acid & Flowers) that this came about when Geoff Mayer's large Hammond RT-3 organ wouldn't fit through the doors of the studio, and Mayer was unwilling to use other equipment. Also according to the volume, the five completed demos can be heard on Express to Oblivion, which also has a couple of other lighter, less psychedelia-inclined tracks. After the group broke up in the early '70s, guitarist and lead singer Kent Housman recorded or performed with Blue Cheer, the Ducks, and SFO.