Lowell George & the Factory-LIGHTNING-ROD MAN CD (Bizarre)
I'll bet this one's going for a lotta dollars on the OP Cee-Dee market along with the rest of those "Bizarre"-label rarities that sorta came and went back in the early-nineties. However, unlike Alice Cooper and Tim Buckley these Factory guys never got the opportunity to release any of their wares during their lifetime. In fact, I doubt very much that they made it out of the Southern Californian freak scene alive, heading into the seventies under the guise of Little Feat and not quite chilling these bones the way these '67 El Lay folk rockers continue to to a good fortysome years after the fact.
You heard and even saw 'em on GOMER PYLE (although they have been so cleverly edited out of the DVD package along with Gomer singing "The Impossible Dream" and "Thoroughly Modern Millie") but if you'd like to hear what an actual Factory album might have sounded like had Zappa the nerve to release this on Bizarre/Verve along with Sandy Gurvitz well snatch it up! The title cut's the same one that pops up on all of those Mothers bootlegs (credited to Gail Zappa of all people!) which don't surprise me given that Beefhearty sound, while the rest is dang good power folk West Coast rock located somewhere between the Byrds before they gave David Crosby the heave-ho and San Francisco at its high-end shock best. (Think '67 Grape as opposed to '69 'plane and you'll get the idea.) Overall this would have been an atypical release for the fledgling Bizarre label but then again it was a tax loss company anyway so maybe them cutouts woulda been comin' at us at a faster rate than any of us'd expect!
Songs might have this air of sameness but just when you think you're gonna get candy-cane bored outta your mind along comes a real surprise like the "Hey Joe" homage "Hey Girl!" It's the stuff I think of when I think teenage and late-sixties. Pop yet smart, West Coast yet not silly or show biz. Surprise production tricks can also be espied with such niceties as Lowell George tackling dulcimer and woodwinds as well as Emil Richards adding his typically exotic/spooky percussion to "No Place I'd Rather Be" (and yeah, that is Zappa himself adding those boo-boo's on "Lightning Rod Man as if we couldn't guess!).
Biggest surprise of all is the way the tone of the disque changes from folk rock to nasty blooze within the span of two years of recordings. Dunno exactly when the Factory transformed from flower children into the country bloozers Little Feat but you can hear it plain and clear right here. Never did give a listen to those early Little Feat albums and I know that they eventually became too much a part of the seventies Joni and Linda laid back ROLLING STONE set for me to give two whits, but Mark Jenkins did like those early-seventies releases so perhaps the Feat had something on the ball for them. (And I sure remember a CREEM piece from the mid-seventies nailin' 'em as a punk rock group perhaps due to George's time as a post-Dick Dodd Standell!) Judging from these tracks I don't think I would be that much induced into heading straight for the Cee-Dee Supermarket to find out if Little Feat's early platters are that good even with that Neon Parks painting resplendent on the front cover of SAILIN' SHOES, but these tracks, including a standard late-sixties white-hard version of "Framed", do seem to be a good tag-on roundup of things to come especially for those of us who kinda shudder at a lotta the things that went.
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