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White Lightning

Thunderbolts Of Fuzz

    Standout favorites of Riding Easy Records’ Brown Acid compilation series, White Lightning’s stellar discography of rare and under-appreciated heavy psych, proto-metal rock gets a vital revival for new generations to learn how swinging, swaggering and often blazingly fast rock’n’roll is done.White Lightning was formed in Minneapolis, MN in 1968 by guitarist Tom “Zippy” Caplan and bassist Woody Woodrich after leaving garage psych band The Litter (themselves popular standouts from the Nuggets and Pebbles series of garage rock rarities.) Originally a power trio, the band later expanded to a 5-piece in 1969 while shortening its name to Lightning. The quintet’s brilliant and rare 1970 self-titled album on Pickwick International’s P.I.P. imprint provides 6 of the 10 tracks on Thunderbolts of Fuzz.The original White Lightning trio only released one 45-rpm single “Of Paupers and Poets” during their existence (on local Hexagon label in 1968, later reissued by major label ATCO Records in 1969.) A long out-of-print posthumous album released in 1995 gathered unreleased recordings, 3 of which are found here. This rounds out this collection of recorded highlights from the band’s rocky history.
    Taking their name from a particularly potent type of LSD, White Lightning laid out from the start that it was not cute and cuddly 70s rock. In fact, the band’s aggressive tempos are like punk rock way before punk. However, their dirty blues groove and musical prowess shows the band was more than unrefined ne’er-do-wells, they had true versatility.

    Drummer/lead vocalist Mick Stanhope later relinquished his drum throne to take center stage as lead singer of the expanded lineup. Throughout its initial 1968-1974 run, the band had 10 different lineups, with Caplan, Woodrich and Stanhope the most consistent members — though the band points out that no one member has played in all 11 incarnations of the group. 

    Album opener “Prelude to Opus IV” is a wailing rocker with blazing double-kick drum, sizzling melodic riffs and Jim Dandy howls jam packed into an epic 4 minutes that serves enough testament to the band’s greatness, nothing more need be heard or said. However, the would-be hits keep coming as the Led Zeppelin meets Black Oak Arkansas thwack of “Hideaway” and “Born Too Rich” come screaming out of the speakers. “When A Man Could Be Free” shows the band could also reign in the fury, at least a little bit, for a warm Southern rock style ballad. “Borrowed and Blue” echoes the stately poetry of Electric Ladyland-era Hendrix with a dash of The Who’s rollicking psychedelia. “1930” is, quite simply, insane. Searing twin guitars with incredible fuzz-drenched tone, a warm and buzzing bass line bounce atop drummer Bernie Pershey’s unrelenting bass drum triplets while Stanhope ravages his lungs with soulful abandon. The album closes with the aptly titled “Before My Time” a barnstorming boogie rock instrumental the proves the band vanished long before receiving their due.


    Side A
    01. Prelude To Opus IV
    02. Hideaway
    03. Born Too Rich
    04. When A Man Could Be Free
    05. 1930
    Side B
    06. Borrowed And Blue
    07. They?ve Got The Time
    08. Riders In The Sky
    09. Fantasy Days
    10. Before My Time

    Lenny Kaye

    Lightning Striking

      An insider's take on the evolution and enduring legacy of the music that rocked the twentieth century.

      Memphis, 1954. New Orleans 1957. Philadelphia 1959. Liverpool, 1962. San Francisco 1967. Detroit 1969. New York, 1975. London 1977. Los Angeles 1984 / Norway 1993. Seattle 1991.

      Rock and roll was birthed in basements and garages, radio stations and dance halls, in cities where unexpected gatherings of artists and audience changed and charged the way music is heard and celebrated, capturing lightning in a bottle. Musician and writer Lenny Kaye explores ten crossroads of time and place that define rock and roll, its unforgettable flashpoints, characters and visionaries, how each generation came to be, how it was discovered by the world. Whether Elvis Presley's Memphis, the Beatles' Liverpool, Patti Smith's New York or Kurt Cobain's Seattle, LIGHTNING STRIKING reveals the communal energy that creates a scene, a guided tour inside style and performance, to see who's on stage, along with the movers and shakers, the hustlers and hangers-on, and why everybody is listening. Grandly sweeping and minutely detailed, informed by Kaye's acclaimed knowledge and experience as a working musician, LIGHTNING STRIKING is an ear-opening insight into our shared musical and cultural history, a carpet ride of rock and roll's most influential movements and moments.

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