Howard Wales & Jerry Garcia
I just found out last Friday that Jerry Garcia buys his comics from the same little shop in Mill Valley that I purchase mine at. As I was searching through some old Marvels, looking for a few that I'd missed last summer, John (the cat that runs Village Music) strolled in and lazily noted that he's been selling more comics than records lately (which didn't overly surprise me) and then off-the-cuffly remarked that he'd just sold ninety dollars worth of old EC's to Jerry Garcia a couple of days ago. Which did surprise me.
So where is Garcia getting all the bread from (for ninety bucks you get six or seven EC's)? From all that he's been doing lately. The recent New Riders of the Purple Sage disc didn't count for much; it seemed to me to suffer from a musical lifelessness and from John Dawson's mostly uninspired vocals - Garcia plays some pedal-steel and banjo on this one. Maybe next time they should be recorded live. However, Garcia's also-recent outing with keyboard man Howard Wales is an unqualified success.
Wales has been around for a while - I believe he was the original piano-player for Commander Cody, but I could be wrong - and it really matters little as far as this record goes. With more-than-able assistance from Garcia, a couple of drummers, Ken Balzall's trumpet with Martin Fierro's saxophone (another fellow who has also been around a while), Wales delivers one of the most expert and exciting rock cum folk cum jazz albums of the year.
Pass over BS&T, the Nice and Emerson Lake & Palmer, and steer toward the instrumental magic of Hooteroll - to my jaded ears it is packed with all the streamlined rigor and abandon that all those old Robbie Basho and John Fahey Takoma albums were full of. Whether it's the super-charged intensity of a "South Side Strut" or a "DC-502" or the laying-low, mandala qualities of a "One A.M. Approach" or "Da Bird Song," Wales, Garcia and companions (who is Doris Dynamite?) prove that there definitely is something worth listening to before the just-around-the-corner massive Christmas releases are upon us once more. "A Trip To What Next," and the elusive "Up From the Desert" are also rewarding - "A Trip" particularly demonstrates the volatile rock organ prowess of Mr. Wales.
Back to the comics. There are probably a hell of a lot more EC's that Jerry would like to have - how about a Volume Two of Wales' compositions, entitled Jazzerock or whatever, to pay for them.
(by Gary von Tersch, from Rolling Stone, November 11 1971)