The Holy Modal Rounders

Live in 1965 [DBK Works]

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The unearthing of a 1965 live performance by a highly regarded cult band such as the Holy Modal Rounders, who only put out four albums during the 1960s, undeniably holds some lure for fans. Yet, even judged as an artifact, this release is somewhat disappointing. The fidelity is just fair, though listenable, and the performances are a little ragged. You could justifiably argue that many Holy Modal Rounders fans like the band ragged. But the fact is that if you want to hear them in their early old-time folk guise, the performances and audio are much better on the two mid-'60s albums they did for Prestige around the same time. All that taken into consideration, there's some interest to be had in hearing some live versions of songs that made it onto those Prestige LPs, like "Fishin' Blues" and "Flop Eared Mule," as well as "Indian War Whoop" (eventually done as the title cut of their 1967 LP) and, most interestingly, "My Mind Capsized," which they didn't do in the studio until their 1968 psychedelic album The Moray Eels Eat the Holy Modal Rounders. There are also numerous songs that didn't make it onto any of their 1960s records ("Random Canyon" is a standout), as well as jokey introductions that poke irreverent fun at reverent folkloric conventions. Beware that although 26 tracks are listed, ten of those are just brief spoken intros, and the CD adds up to just 45 minutes. Also, the packaging leaves a lot to be desired, with not a shred of annotation as to where and exactly when (other than the year 1965) this was recorded, or the sources of the songs.

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