From The Vault: Relatively Clean Rivers – “Relatively Clean Rivers” (1976)

January 12, 2017

From The Vault: Relatively Clean Rivers – “Relatively Clean Rivers” (1976)

Mystery and rumors have swirled like hazy blue smoke around this very enchanting privately released limited edition bit of folk rock psychedelia since it first slid onto the scene back in 1976 … being the brainchild of Phil Pearlman. [Editor’s note: Phil Pearlman was member of The Beat Of The Earth, The Electronic Hole]

On first listen you won’t miss the hippie Marin County – Topanga Canyon markers, laced with heavy weed use, yet with a deeper emersion, the California desert comes into full focus, laced not so much with splendid marijuana, but with a resurgence of the harmonious lysergic that’s both nostalgic for the 60’s, in and of the moment for the album’s release, and spellbindingly timelessly centered in the here and now. Though it may sound as if I’m contradicting myself, the album really isn’t nostalgic in the sense that it’s looking back and trying to be some sort of vision of the past, more that the core of this psychedelic nature, and the folks who keep it alive, are still in place with the rest of the world having passed them by.
While many considered Relatively Clean Rivers to be some sort of acid vision returned to life, others see the album as a rural manifestation of countryfied musicianship traveling the same course as early Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Neil Young … flowering and flowing cleanly, effortlessly, unforced, and totally honest. With much of the music being acoustic, there are elements of morphing electric guitars, smattered with strange spacey moments belaying a stoned underground atmosphere. Certainly the record is not as good as the aforementioned artists, though it is imaginative, melancholy, mellow, and exotically webbed. All and all, nearly each song would benefit from more structured compositions, arrangements, and perhaps a greater fleshing out of the tracks, making them a bit longer and more complete; yet that being said, there’s something elemental and satisfying with the imperfections. And then there’s the band Wilco, citing the Relatively Clean Rivers as being inspirational.

You may bring an original copy into your life for around $2200 and change.
– Jenell Kesler
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