The Other Half – ‘The Other Half’ (1968)
After leaving The Sons Of Adam, lead guitarist/vocalist Randy Holden joined vocalist Jeff Nowlen, rhythm guitarist/vocalist Geoff Western, bass guitarist Larry Brown and drummer Danny Woods in Los Angeles based rock The Other Half, his influence changing the band’s direction from vocal based garage music to the loudest big stage band sound of the time.
The group relocated to San Francisco where their Yardbirds/Rolling Stones influenced sound filled venues such as the Avalon Ballroom and resulted in the recording of an album and several singles between 1966 and 1968.
Lion Records, UK, reissued ‘The Other Half’ supplementing the original stereo album with 5 mono non-LP single sides, a total of 15 tracks, with a run time of just over 41 minutes. The long player contains nine band originals with a cover of Arthur Lee’s ‘Feathered Fish’ which Holden’s former band The Sons Of Adam had recorded after his departure, with replacement Craig Tarwater on lead guitar, despite the song being a long standing part of the group’s live repertoire. Thank goodness Holden took the song with him as The Other Half’s version smokes, sounding very much like Lee’s band Love, but much heavier thanks to Holden’s blazing lead guitar line and soaring solo. On ‘Flight Of The Dragon Lady’ Holden’s guitar is reminiscent of the Yardbirds brief Jeff Beck/Jimmy Page period evoking visions of ‘Happenings Ten years Time Ago’. ‘Wonderful Day’, a single a-side, brings to mind Love’s halcyon days of ‘Da Capo’ and ‘Forever Changes’ with its gorgeous vocal harmonies although Holden’s guitar is burning much higher octane fuel. ‘I Need You’, another a-side penned by Holden with former The Sons Of Adam band mate Mike Port, is a full on sonic attack with racing drums, throbbing bass and power chord riffing, its call and response vocals leading to an incendiary Holden solo anticipating his days to come with Blue Cheer and even more his 1970 heavy psychedelic masterpiece ‘Population II’ recorded by the guitarist aided only by ex-Kak drummer Chris Lockheed. ‘Oz Lee Eaves Drops’ is a raved up acid rocker a la the Yardbirds with mouth harp accents and a brief drum solo joining Holden’s feedback laden solo and lysergic lyrics including “get you, get you high” fitting nicely with the title’s reference to Owsley Stanley III. ‘Bad Day’, also issued as a b-side, features quivering fuzz and wah wah aided guitar, while ‘Morning Fair’, an a-side, exhibits Holden’s Eastern influences, with the guitarist adding a restrained solo outro. ‘What Can I Do For You, First Half’, another a-side, is a trippy tune, its quivering lead guitar bringing John Cipollina of Quicksilver Messenger Service to mind, the tune’s riff building even as Holden’s lead line and solo remain restrained before the tempo quickens as the song segues into ‘What Can I Do For You, The Other Half, the album’s closer and longest track at nearly seven minutes, opening with a Woods drum solo before Holden opens up, soloing effortlessly, carefully controlling feedback, his guitar screaming as the band holds the groove and Nowlen repeats the chorus “what can I do for you” over and over as Holden again cuts loose, his solo roaring as he runs up and down the fretboard, his string bending again evoking visions of the soon to come “Population II’. The song’s tempo quickens, its repeated refrain “come on baby, come on now” and insistent riff build to a rave up and feedback fueled close. The bonus material starts with the non-LP ‘I’ve Comes So Far’, a commercially accessible b-side which finds Nowlen’s mouth harp supporting Holden’s fuzzed out solo. The band’s best known tune, the non-LP a-side , Jeff Nowlen’s ode to drug usage ‘Mr. Pharmacist’ has appeared on numerous garage/psychedelic compilations including the famous ‘Nuggets’ series with lyrics such as “Mr. Pharmacist can you help me out today in your usual lovely way, oh Mr. Pharmacist I insist that you give me some of that Vitamin C ….Dear Mr. Pharmacist won’t you please give me some energy…Hey Mr. Pharmacist, I’ll recommend you to my friends, they’ll be happy in the end, Mr. Pharmacist can you help send me on a ‘delic trip….Dear Mr. Pharmacist use your mind, you better stock me up for wintertime….Oh Mr. Pharmacist can I plead, gimme some of that powder that I need….Dear Mr. Pharmacist I’ll be back, with a handful of empty sack”. The psychedelic anthem ends with Holden soloing the song out. ‘No Doubt About It’ a non-LP b-side, is another fuzz filled Yardbirds style rave up. ‘It’s Too Hard’ taken from a French EP features an intro reminiscent of ‘Mr. Pharmacist’, adding a QMS ‘Who Do You Love’ riff which builds to another Yardbirds influenced rave up ending. Another track from the French EP, ‘I Know’ features Holden’s lead guitar gliding gently over the top until its final minute when his quivering, fuzzed out solo brings the song and set to a close. Randy Holden left soon after ‘The Other Half’ was recorded, unhappy with the recording and the guitar he was playing at the time, stating “I was trying to accommodate everyone else at the expense of my own soul and happiness.” Despite his misgivings, the album has been described as “awesome incendiary rock”, a testament to Holden’s perfectionism and steadfast loyalty to his musical intentions..
The Lion Records reissue of ‘The Other Half’ comes in a digipak with complete track listing as well as full writing and musician credits. The set complements the recent issue of Randy Holden’s work with The Fender IV and The Sons Of Adam on High Moon Records’ compilation ‘Saturday’s Sons’, and setting the stage for 1970’s ‘Population II’. The compilation will appeal to fans of garage rock, psychedelic rock, hard rock, guitar rock, 1960s rock and classic rock and comes highly recommended.
The Other Half – ‘The Other Half’ (1968 / 2006 Lion Records reissue)
The Other Half i have on the Bootleg Radioactive.
Josef, yes, the album has often been bootlegged. This is a rare, official release. I wanted to publicize it since at least the band gets royalties on this edition and it is a nice complement to The Sons Of Adam’s recent release. The Radioactive LP does not have the 5 single sides included here, ‘Mr. Pharmacist’ of course being one, that are presented in mono. This disc duplicates the French Eva LP frm 1982 which was titled ‘Mr. Pharmacist’ after the well known single. So, there is material here not found on the Radioactive release, a real plus in my mind. Always good to read your comments. I have something else coming out today that I hope you enjoy as well. Thank you again.
I listened to the Orher Half again after a very long time. Great band ! I didn’t remember than that well. I’m thinking about getting the official one wirh the single tracks.
Is the Other Half from master band ?
Another GREAT Cal. band also on Radioactive
Josef, I’m not sure it The Other Haf is from the master tapes or not. It isn’t designated on the release. Yes, I have Orphan Egg on Radioactive. I’d like to see a legitimate reissue.
It’s an excellent album,and well described in this review of sorts,and for me it’s in that psychedelic turning heavy evolution of sound,but strangely still has a 66 garage punk vibe to it also,which certainly makes it a riveting,exhilirating and a fuzzed up slab of excellent psychedelia.
It’s surprising how many musicians dislike their early work,and Randy Holden seems to be another,but this album and the non album 45s certainly catch THAT moment in time,where opportunity represented itself to many bands to actually put an album down in a studio,and this album catches the vibe,sounds,and concerns of THAT time to young musicians and songwriters,including the references to drugs,which was prevalent for many involved in making music at THAT time,i get the feeling some musicians and songwriters are embarassed by their blatant hyping of tripping,and drug taking in general as they look back many years later,but as i said,they shouldn’t be,as that was what was happening around them.So its a snapshot of time.
Plus the many unsavoury managers,record execs who blatantly ripped off songwriters and musicians,who also manipulated the musicians naivete,which can still rankle decades later,and i wonder if THIS could be a reason the likes of Randy Holden and others like him have very little good to say about their early works,as it holds far from good vibes for them,but for us music enthusiasts,the likes of this album by The Other Half is tremendous,as we have NO emotional connection to it………look at the Moby Grape saga,for 50 years ,there have been enormous legal tussles,and the excellent Sundazed cd reissues ALL eventually got withdrawn,because off it, beggars belief,here we are in the 2020s,and contracts signed over 50 years ago are still dictating the ownership of works from 67 and after….utterly ridiculous state of affairs,and it wouldn’t surprise me if the likes of Randy Holden and the other members of The Other Half,have NEVER received a penny from their creations.It’s trully a shocking indictment on the music/record industry of the blatant thievary of others creativity and hard work,and for those conditions to still stand decades later,is just unforgivable.
As for the reissues of The Other Half album,the Eva boot cd reissue”Mr Pharmacist”,has all the tracks mentioned in the review,just the 45 sides are in a different order,there was also a cd reissue by a label Pilot Records,which looks and sounds good,with basic liners,but reproduces the artwork,which Eva did not,as for the Lion cd,there IS a fab LEGIT reissue label called Lion Productions,but ive not heard of a Other Half cd reissue by Lion Productions,and if i’ve missed that,i’m kicking myself,but there is also a boot label called simply, Lion,which unfortunately is not legit as far as i’m aware,and the Pilot Records boot cd issue sound like could be very similar as the 45 sides are in exact same order,but many industrial like bootleggers constantly change the label names to avoid detection,so many of those dodgy cd and vinyl reissues can be the same people,as Radioactive and Fallout where the same people,just under different labels,and they had other labels too,and i’ve a slight suspicion the likes of Pilot Records may possibly be the same outfit,but Lion,are not the same people,i must add again NOT Lion Productions,which IS a legit concern.I highly recommend Lion Productions cd reissues,ALL legit,with booklets,best sound quality possible,and they pay the dues asked……..the vast majority of bootleg labels DON’T pay any type of royalty,yes bootlegs certainly play their part in being able to have a cd of a little known album,which has never been reissued since its original release,but i have heard of issues of bootleg cds ,actually stopping a legit reissue,as it saturated the market with boot reissues BEFORE the legit reissue was planned to be released……..THAT is the horrible down side,but this is a topic for another time.
The Other Half album,is top class,certainly a recommended listen for any enthusiast of heavy psychedelia,and screaming for a good legit official reissue in both cd and vinyl.
Kevin i see you’ve done a lot of research on the band Other Half. Well i have to admit that i underestimated them too and was amazed at the high quality when listening again after many years. I think the band existed from 67-69. ?? It’s just a shame that an lp was never recorded. Yes, almost all S. F. bands were very good live. I have often mentioned to friends that i would sell my soul to the devil if i had the complete Avalon Ballroom and Fillmore West tapes.
Sorry Stuart Robinson i just now saw the contribution is from you. Thank you !!