Drywater – “Backbone Of The Nation” (1973) review
Drywater “Backbone Of The Nation” (RPC, 1973/Gear Fab, 2017)
Recorded in 1973 by guitarist/vocalists, Dennis Cheplick and Jack Sarvis, aided by Cheplick’s brother, Greg, on drums and Sarvis’ future brother-in-law, Ken Turcic on bass, Backbone Of The Nation was originally released on the RPC label in a limited pressing of 25 copies. The album was recorded “live” by the quartet at a local Pennsylvania studio, Marjon Records, with the LPs ten tracks being recorded in 3 hours with no overdubs or editing, at a total cost of $100. In this Gear Fab Records reissue the album’s ten tracks are supplemented by two bonus tracks, for a total run time of slightly over 41 minutes.
The original album opens with the four and a half minute title track, which features nice fuzz guitar by Sarvis, and is the heaviest number on the LP. Turcic and Greg Cheplick supply a driving beat, supplemented by solid rhythm guitar from Dennis Cheplick, and a very tasty lead line by Sarvis, who also delivers a fuzz filled solo. The band also features a more mid-tempo side, as evidenced by “If Only I Had Told You” with its jangling 12-string acoustic guitar by Cheplick. The tune includes gorgeous vocal harmonies by Cheplick and Sarvis. “I Don’t Love You Anymore” is a mid-tempo number, with a country rock feel, more vocal harmonies and a restrained lead guitar line courtesy of Sarvis. “Too Much Of Nothing” is another mid-tempo number showcasing the jangling 12-string guitar of Cheplick and a gentle lead line by Sarvis. Side one of the LP closed with “Airplane Rider” a return to more up-tempo material fueled by Sarvis’ fuzz guitar and Cheplick’s jangling rhythm guitar.
Side two opens with a straight ahead rocker, “Untitled Love.” Dennis Cheplick’s gorgeous lead line is joined by Turcic’s bass, which booms over top of Sarvis’ husky vocals. “The Stones You Throw” another mid-tempo rocker features more booming bass from Turcic and a nicely textured lead line by Sarvis. “Hooky Player” showcases jangling rhythm guitar by Cheplick and more restrained lead from Sarvis, who also supplies a tasteful solo. “Sweet And Free” is a mid-tempo ballad with jangling 12-string guitar by Cheplick and a gentle, nicely picked solo from Sarvis. The original Backbone Of The Nation closes with another mid-tempo number “How Many More Years.” The tune is a return to the band’s more country rock side with ballad style vocals and a withheld lead line by Cheplick, supported by Sarvis’ rhythm guitar and gorgeous harmony vocals. The original LP is supplemented by two bonus tracks, “Like A Vine” and “Deception.” Both tunes feature gentle acoustic guitar and restrained lead lines as well as showcasing the band’s vocal harmonies.
Gear Fab’s reissue Of Backbone Of The Nation features a foreword by label owner Roger Maglio and an informative essay by Jack Sarvis and Dennis Cheplick. The digipak package is rounded out by complete song annotations and gorgeous photos of the band members. A wonderful example of home-made garage/psych music, original copies of the album have gone for as much as $1000. Thankfully, Gear Fab has made it available at a much more realistic cost. This release will appeal to fans of garage and psychedelic rock and be a welcome addition to fans of these genres.
– Kevin Rathert
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