B

Fusion


Band members               Related acts

- Kevin Kelly - drums (1969)

- Harvey Lane -- sax, clarinet, flute (1969)

- Rick Luther -- vocals, clavinet, vibes, piano, drums (1969)

- Gary Marker -- bass, rhythm guitar (1969)

- Richard Matzkin -- drums (replaced Kevin Kelly) (1969)

- Bill Wolff -- lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass (1969)

 

  supporting players

- Ed Carter -- lead guitar (1969)

- Ryland Cooder -- lead guitar, rhythm guitar (1969)

- Bernie Fieldings -- backing vocals (1969)

 

 

 

- The Byrds (Kevin Kelly)

- Rainbow Red Oxidiser (Gary Marker)

- The Peanut Butter Conspiracy (Bill Wolf)

- The Rising Sons (Gary Marker)

- Sound Machine (Gary Marker - Bill Wolf)

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Border Town

Company: ATCO

Catalog: SD 33-295

Year: 1969

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: original inner sleeve; small cut out notch along right edge

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 5510

Price: $45.00

 

 

This one's largely unknown to folks, though the fact renown guitarist Ry Cooder provided extensive support throughout their sole LP makes that lack of recognition somewhat surprising.

 

Bassist Gary Marker had been a member of The Rising Songs (along with  Cooder and Taj Mahal), worked extensively with Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, and together with guitarist Bill Wolff had been a member of The Sound Machine.  Wolff had also been a late inning member of The Peanut Butter Conspiracy.  Together with guitarist Cooder, brass and woodwind player Harvey Lane, singer/multi-instrumentalist Rick Luther, bassist Gary Marker, and drummer Richard Matzkin they had all been in a short-lived L.A.-based outfit called The Jazz Folk.  With the outfit quickly collapsing Lane, Luther, and Marker recruiting guitarist Randy California, drummer Ed Cassidy, and bassist John Locke for The New World Jazz Company.  California, Cassidy, and Locke quickly went off on their own forming Spirit.  Lane, Luther, and Marker then formed Fusion, recruiting guitarist Bill Wolff and drummer Kevin Kelly.  Kelly quickly left to join The Byrds.  Matzkin was then brought back in as drummer.

 

Produced by Merker (who also co-wrote nine of the ten racks with Luther), 1969's "Fusion" didn't do a great deal for me the first time I played it.  The album actually got dumped in my 'check out later' pile and sat there for a couple of years before I finally got around to giving it another shot.  Shame on me.  Powered by Luther's gravelly voice and Cooder's distinctive slide (he played on seven tracks), material like 'Goin' Up To Clarksdale', 'Somebody's Callin' My Name' and 'Another Man' found the band pushing a unique mixture of blues and early Americana roots rock.  Due in large measure to Cooder's slide (check out the opener 'Struttin' Down Main Street'), the results were immensely appealing to my ears, though difficult to describe.  About the closest I can get is having you recall some of Cooder's earliest LPs (perhaps "Ry Cooder"), or try to picture a down and dirty version Little Feat with Lowell George coming off a month long bender while singing with a mouth full of marbles ...   The album also included a couple of numbers that were a clear nod to their earlier jazz roots.  'What Magic?' which segued into 'Time Of The Ostrich Head', and the closing instrumental 'Erebus' were jazz-rock fusion efforts that were interesting, but probably had limited appeal for rock fans.  In addition to the jazzy interludes, 'One More Hand' was little more than a sleep inducing jam and 'Cajun Two Step' was ... well a strange klezmer-cum-country-flavored number.  Still, the winners far outnumber the mistakes.  Rough and ragged, but in a good way, I bet these guys would have been a blast to have heard in a small, smoky blues club.  Personal favorite was the psych-flavored ballad 'News Of Salena'.   ATCO also tapped the album for a single in the form of:

 

-1969's 'Another Man' b/w 'News of Salena' (ATCO catalog 45-6715)

 

"Fusion" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Struttin' Down Main Street   (Rick Luther - Gary Marker) - 4:07

2.) Goin' Up To Clarksdale    (Rick Luther - Gary Marker) - 3:26

3.) Somebody's Callin' My Name    (Rick Luther - Gary Marker) - 2:40

4.) One More Hand    (Rick Luther - Gary Marker) - 4;48

5.) Another Man    (Rick Luther - Gary Marker) - 3:29

 

(side 2)
1.) What Magic?    (Rick Luther - Gary Marker) - 2:36 

2.) Time Of The Ostrich Head   (Rick Luther - Gibson) - 3:53

3.) Cajun Two-Step    (Rick Luther - Gary Marker) - 3:02

4.) News Of Salena    (Rick Luther - Gary Marker) - 2:50

5.) Erebus   (Harvey Lane) - 6:25

 

Marker appears to have retired from music, living in Northern California.  

 

Matzkin also lives in California having gained some recognition as an accomplished sculpture.  He apparently still plays in local groups and has a nice website at:

 

http://matzkinstudio.com/ricframe.html

 

 

 

 

 

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