The Bleu Forest – “Ichiban – Live At Jimmie’s” (2017) review
I’m betting most of you have heard the Bleu Forest’s “A Thousand Trees Deep,” which was issued in 2016 on the Golden Pavilion label. Initially recorded in 1968, the disc duly renewed interest in the otherwise obscure Ventura County, California band. Prior to the birth of “A Thousand Trees Deep,” the Bleu Forest laid down a recording, that like “A Thousand Trees Deep,” had been hiding in the vaults for years.
Recorded one night in August 1967 at producer Jimmie Haskell’s house, the effort portrays the band in all their bare bones bravado. Employing only a two track reel to reel tape machine and a pair of microphones, the fellows poured their hearts and souls into the performance as though they were courting a massive crowd at Madison Square Garden. Despite the limited technology and spontaneity of the session, the results are mighty impressive. The tone is punchy, while the Bleu Forest approaches their songs with a concentrated focus. Original material, matched by a solid vision, presents the musings of a self-contained band.
The dual influences of raggedy garage rock and psychedelic exploration prevail throughout “Ichiban – Live At Jimmie’s,” directing the tracks to shimmer and sizzle with West Coast cool. Thoughtful lyrics, occasionally flashing a flowery poetic quality, lend a sense of mystique to the mix.
Chiming Byrds styled licks snuggle side by side with aggressive acid-informed frequencies, recalling the barbed bite of Jefferson Airplane and the latter day Vejtables. Detached British inspired vocals, backed by excitable harmonies, along with free-flowing tempos and compact jamming seal the set.
My favorite songs on “Ichiban – Live At Jimmie’s” are “When I’m Alone,” “Bitter Street,” “A Woodland Spring” and “One I Love,” but the whole collection is a satisfying listen. Not a speck of dead space appears here, as the Bleu Forest rock relentlessly to a high energy level. A valuable piece of history, “Ichiban – Live At Jimmie’s” offers an enjoyable look at a great band that was not only hip to the sounds of the time period in which they were active, but capable of expressing themselves with genuine conviction.
– Beverly Paterson
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