The Maze of Memory

Since I regularly dig through the depths of stored music in the basement for exercise soundtracks, this morning I ran across a serious surprise: Sunset Ride by Zephyr.

I had not listened to the record for so long that it was fresh to me again, but its impact was as much memories of the album in and out of my life as the music itself. I first heard it when I was working at Rishashay in the Butterfly Building in Missoula MT in 1975. It was a big favorite of my dear buddy Bruce Lee (no relation), who played it almost daily and claimed the world was divided into the fascinating people who were captivated by the album and the schlubs who didn’t get it. I’m not that absolute, but I say Sunset Ride can really grip you, especially if you get engulfed by singer Candy Givens — her emotions guide you through every moment. And her reading of “High Flying Bird” is one of my favorites.

The band was from Boulder, Colorado and had the precise zonked tone of cowland hippies like our crowd (“eatin’ hash and talkin’ trash”). I thought if our crew ever formed into a band, it would be like Zephyr (and, of course, Blind Boy Bug). So always in my mind as I listen to Sunset Ride, I’m behind the capitalist-counterculture counter in that mid-’70s dream.

It wasn’t until I picked up the 2007 CD reissue of the record that I learned the horrifying fact that Candy Givens drowned tragically in 1984 . And by that time, Bruce Lee was gone, too.

 

 

One thought on “The Maze of Memory

  1. To wrap up the Zephyr story (since I’m sure this is all I will have to do with their recordings), I only had a vinyl of their 1969 debut, self-titled but nicknamed “The Bathtub Album.” (That’s another thing about albums — can you imagine a download acquiring a nickname?) I agreed with the consensus that the music suffered from a dreadful, sloppy mix. Producer Greg Hampton made arrangements with David Givens to fix the problem sound for a limited-edition, deee-luxe, 3-CD reissue, which I did not have the resources to pick up (sold out in moment, anyway). So pondering the back a few days ago, I see a single-CD version of the corrected tunes is available. Got to get it!

    And yes indeed, the sound is remarkably improved. I will take the Candy Given on “Sunset Ride” over this because here she spends too much time trying to sound like Janis J., but I believe I prefer the slightly folkier version of Tommy Bolin’s guitar (he’d left the band before “Sunset”) to the flamboyant swirls of his solo albums, which remind me too much of the soundtrack to (ugh) cocaine parties.

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