Fever Tree

San Francisco Girls

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This CD not only contains Fever Tree's 1968 self-titled debut long-player, but also an additional seven previously unreleased sides, including a live version of the group's sole charting effort (it reached number 94), "San Francisco Girls (Return of the Native)." The initial incarnation featured Rob Landes (keyboards/woodwind), Dennis Keller (vocals), John Tuttle (percussion), E.E. Wolfe (bass), and Michael Knust (guitar), as well as their patrons Scott Holtzman -- who was one of Houston's top pop DJs -- and his wife Vivian Holtzman. The pair were no strangers to music publishing, either, having worked with the likes of Tex Ritter and even Walt Disney during the 1930s and '40s. Not only did they provide promotional and presumably financial assistance, they also wrote several of the band's best tunes, including the aforementioned "hit" "San Francisco Girls (Return of the Native)." In addition to strong originals, Fever Tree also chose exemplary covers. Among them are Buffalo Springfield's "Nowadays, Clancy Can't Even Sing," Wilson Pickett's "Ninety-Nine and a Half (Won't Do)'," and an intriguing medley of the Beatles' "Day Tripper" and "We Can Work It Out." This particular coupling is worth mentioning as the songs in question were the respective "A" and "B" sides of the same 45 rpm single. Contrasting the psychedelic pop leanings are the introspective "The Sun Also Rises," as well as the brilliantly noir and surreptitious "Unlock My Door." Internal conflict began a history of perpetual personnel alterations for Fever Tree, with both Landes and Tuttle leaving prior to the second outing, Another Time, Another Place (1969). No specifics on the bonus material are given; however, the inclusion of Al Jarreau's "You Don't See Me" -- which wasn't issued by the jazz vocalist until the late '70s -- leads to the conclusion that the supplementary sides are from subsequent incarnations. Although the liner info could be considered skimpy at best, the sound quality is thoroughly excellent. Since the band's first two LPs are available on the two-fer title Fever Tree/Another Time Another Place (1997), San Francisco Girls (2003) is more for the hardcore collector and enthusiast rather than the casual listener.

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