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PH Factor - Merryjuana (1968)


A group who mixed up elements of jug band, folk-rock, blues, and psychedelia, PH Phactor was based at various points in both Portland, OR, and San Francisco. During their lifetime they recorded just one single, "Minglewood Blues"/"Barefoot John," released in 1967 on the Piccadilly label. The A-side, an update of a blues song from the 1920s, was one of the best of the relatively few jug band/blues/folk-rock combinations to be released in the 1960s, while the B-side was raw, bluesy folk-rock. An entire album of material recorded by the band, Merryjuana was released in 1980 on Piccadilly. This LP (now very hard to find) showed more range than the single had, with excursions into good-time jug band music, Country Joe and the Fish-like psychedelia, and blues-rock.

On the evidence of this rare LP, PH Phactor were a band that, like the Lovin' Spoonful, Country Joe & the Fish, the Charlatans, and Kaleidoscope, linked jug band folk to psychedelic rock in their versatile repertoire. PH Phactor, alas, weren't as notable as any of those prior acts. But their music on this 1980 release (recorded during the 1960s, although only two tracks, the single "Minglewood Blues"/"Barefoot John," came out at the time) was respectably enjoyable. As was the case with all of those like-minded groups, they sounded worst when they were trying to do comic jug band material. At other points, though (as on "Suzy"), they had an engaging, ragged blues-rock-psychedelic looseness and quizzical humor reminiscent of San Francisco bands like Country Joe & the Fish and, less closely, the Charlatans. Strange as it might seem, one of the singers -- the guy who takes the lead on "Jelly Roll" and "Barefoot John" -- sounds a heck of a lot like Jonathan Richman, though there seems no way Richman could have been influenced by such an obscure group. They do a surprisingly good blues-rock cover of Howlin' Wolf's "Three Hundred Pounds of Joy" (here retitled "200 Pounds of Heavenly Joy"), and get into eastern-influenced jazzy psychedelic improvisations on the seven-minute "Rain Island." ~ Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide

Paul Bassett ~ Drums, Washboard
John Browne ~ Guitar, Harmonica
Davy Coffin ~ Guitar, Mandolin
John Hendricks ~ Mandolin, Mandola, Banjo, Guitar, Kazoo, Jug, Vocals
Dennis Long ~ Drums
Steve Mork ~ Bass, Jug
Nick Ogilvie ~ Guitar, Banjo, Harp, Vocals
Chris Robinson ~ Guitar
Mike Rush ~ Drums 

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