Merrell Fankhauser – Maui

Here’s yet another one of those countless examples of a privately pressed could’ve-been-classic albums [Maui Music/1976], selling a few thousands back in the day, before disappearing in the mists of time.

Thankfully, that same sort of small independent labels, being run “by collectors for collectors”, or should I say record geeks (in both cases … myself included); keep reminding us of such examples from time to time. Of this one, some were already “reminded” of (me excluded) almost ten years ago, by Reckless records’ vinyl reissue, and this one’s an expanded, chock-full of bonuses, CD version, coming from Sweden.

Being inspired by the mystical tradition of the environment of his Maui based “Tarzan style jungle house”, Merrell’s early ‘70s output with MU, as well as his solo recordings that followed, all share an equal doze of mysticism and an almost transcendental vibe about it, most often being reminiscent of a kind of a more spaced out Buffalo Springfield or CSN and especially Y.

As heard in the orchestrated folk-baroque hippy chants such as On Our Way To Hana, Make A Joyful Noise, We Were All Free, Garden In The Rain, or in the jazzy swing of I Saw Your Photograph as well as Lovely Lady, which seems to recall some of Richie Furay’s most sophisticated countryfied Buffalo moments.

Just occasionally, as with Sail It Over The Ocean and Oceans Of Intelligence things get almost classic country, though still in an equally spiritual way. The overall laid back atmosphere rarely gets interrupted with a bit more upbeat full band approach, which is when Fankhauser’similiarly fragile vocal delivery, still keeping it all pretty close to Young-like kind of a (not too hard) rawking in a free world, takes it more towards the sound of Neil’s solo releases, and another one more than worth the mention must be The Source, with a Lennon-at-his-most-gospel-like vibe about it.

Just put on your Hawaiian shirt, and let the “joyful noise” of Maui make you “sail over the ocean” where there’s still “peace in the world” and “we are all free”.

[Released by Subliminal Sounds 2006]

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