Uther Pendragon – San Francisco Earthquake (2016) review
Uther Pendragon “San Francisco Earthquake” (Guerssen Records, 2016)
After more than four decades of hiding in the vaults, the amazing music of Uther Pendragon has finally surfaced. In existence from 1966 to 1978, the San Francisco Bay Area band began life as Blue Fever, went through a brace of name changes, then became Uther Pendragon in the early seventies. The members of the band were lead guitarist and vocalist Bruce Marelich, rhythm guitarist and vocalist Mark Lightcap, bassist and vocalist Martin Espinosa, and drummer Mark Beers. Uther Pendragon was managed by Craig Pederson, who also handled other fabled California bands such as Something Wild and Tripsichord Music Box.
Available as a triple vinyl package and a double compact disc set, “San Francisco Earthquake” captures Uther Pendragon in all their raw and fearless glory. Products of their free-wheeling environment, the band duly brandished an affinity for freaky jams and blistering psychedelic rock. While the influence of Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Grateful Dead, and Moby Grape lounged comfortably in Uther Pendragon’s repertoire, the power and volume of the Who (especially the drumming) further figured into the mix. Comparisons to the acid-etched episodes of the Byrds, as well as the hard-hitting electric folk rock sounds of cool Texas bands like Homer and Bubble Puppy, are additionally warranted. But due to exciting original material and knowing how to deliver their missives with enthusiasm and conviction, Uther Pendragon definitely dispatched a dialogue of their own.
Roving tempos interspersed with shifting rhythms sit elbow to elbow with much of the tracks on “San Francisco Earthquake,” where the vocals range anywhere from haunting and hypnotic to fierce and frightening. Savage guitar licks abound, and just when it seems the band is ready to combust, they lock everything together and continue firing away. Rounded out by loose harmonies and unconventional melodies, “San Francisco Earthquake” explodes with organic spontanity. “Side Of The Dawn,” “Man Of Means,” “Peter Pan Blowup,” “Spanish Fly,” “Signifiy Justice,” “King Muskrat,” “10 Miles To Freedom,” and the title cut of the collection are only a brief listing of the great stuff here. Listening to these edgy songs, one can imagine how energetic and intense Uther Pendragon must have been in a concert setting. But “San Francisco Earthquake” is the next best thing to being there.
Read our interview with members of Uther Pendragon.
Review by Beverly Paterson/2016
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