I’m glad I’ve finally had an opportunity to hear these embryonic recordings from the Stalk-Forrest Group, but it’s unlikely I’ll ever play the set for pleasure.
Written by: Eric
ARTIST: Stalk-Forrest Group
ALBUM: St. Cecilia: The Elektra Recordings
LABEL: Wounded Bird Records
SERIAL: WOU 4046
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Eric Bloom – lead vocals, guitar * Donald Roeser – lead guitar, vocals * Andy Winters – bass * Allen Lanier – keyboards, guitar * Albert Bouchard – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 What Is Quicksand? * 02 I’m On The Lamb * 03 Gil Blanco County * 04 Donovan’s Monkey * 05 Ragamuffin Dumplin’ * 06 Curse Of The Hidden Mirrors * 07 Arthur Comics * 08 A Fact About Sneakers * 09 Ragamuffin Dumplin’ (Original Version) * 10 I’m On The Lamb (Original Version) * 11 Curse Of The Hidden Mirrors (Original Version) * 12 Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy * 13 Gil Blanco County (Original Version) * 14 St. Ceceilia (Original Version) * 15 A Fact About Sneakers (Original Version) * 16 What is Quicksand? (Mono Single Version) * 17 Arthur Comics (Mono Single Version)
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Like most GDM readers I have a good amount of Blue Oyster Cult albums in my collection but would never be considered a major fan. I don’t remember taping any live Cult radio broadcasts and never went to their gigs back in the day, yet in a small way they were very present in my surroundings.
Long Island in the late ’70s was a great place for this socially inept music dweeb and living just a short walk from the former BOC band house which shared our secluded neighborhood beach and where ‘Don’t Fear The Reaper’ was supposedly penned.
That 45 and 1977’s ‘Spectres’ spent a fair amount of time on my cheapo Radio Shack turntable but musically and like Rush I might add, I struggled to connect emotionally with much of Blue Oyster Cult‘s brainy hard rock despite their melodicism and occasional progressive tendencies.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise I have been in the dark to any pre-BOC recordings which apparently have been bootlegged extensively for years. ‘St. Cecilia: The Elektra Recordings’ represents a confusing time in the band’s history and Elektra’s carrot and stick approach didn’t help.
Dropping Soft White Underbelly for the unpronounceable Oaxaca, found the band in the sights of Columbia Records. A demo was recorded and rejected although Elektra noticed and once again the band changed their moniker to the short-lived Stalk-Forrest Group.
A full-length album was recorded in 1970 but the label was unhappy with the band for a variety of reasons and chose to release a limited press DJ only single instead. It flopped and a year later once again courted by Columbia Records and this time Clive Davis; Blue Oyster Cult was born.
Listening to these early recordings which includes the unreleased album and the Oaxaca sessions as well as Elektra’s single ‘What is Quicksand?’/’Arthur Comics’; there are definite traces of things to come and an early version of ‘I’m On The Lamb But I Ain’t No Sheep’ is fun to hear but Stalk-Forrest Group were a universe away from the pioneering metal band of ‘Secret Treaties’ and ‘Agents Of Fortune’.
The Stalk-Forrest Group sound is firmly tie dyed west coast psychedelic with nods to The Byrds, CSN&Y, Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service.
Guitarist Donald Roeser aka Buck Dharma puts down some interesting leads but also delves into jammy country rock with a Byrdsy Gene Clark-ish jangle; a sound BOC revisited for their aforementioned massive selling 1976 single but here sound incredibly dated and at times quite tiresome. This is especially true after hearing both versions which can be an aural endurance test as both the album tracks and demos are remarkably alike.
Three tunes culled from Oaxaca tapes appeared as bonus tracks on Sony’s 2001 reissue of the band’s 1972 debut and Wounded Bird’s recent issue is the same version put out by Rhino Handmade in 2001 but I can’t imagine anyone other than Blue Oyster Cult and American psych hardcores taking an interest in this release.
From a historical perspective I’m glad I’ve finally had an opportunity to hear these embryonic recordings from the Stalk-Forrest Group, but it’s unlikely I’ll ever play the set for pleasure.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)