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Merkin - Music From Merkin Manor (1972)


Music From Merkin Manor is a strangely interesting album, as might be expected from a group of young longhairs playing a combination of psychedelic, country, and hard rock in smalltown Utah in the early 1970s. The album opens up with "Ruby," a song on which Merkin sound something like the Association on acid singing harmonies that sound slightly off-kilter while being backed by Blue Öyster Cult. Odd, to say the least. There are many recognizable influences on the album, but many of the influences wouldn't seem as if they should be within miles of each other. As a result, a song such as "Take Some Time" has the druggy ambience of early-'70s stoner rock moving into pop verses, before it somehow evolves into a jazz jam. "Todaze" again sounds not unlike the Association (a comparison that consistently holds throughout the album) in terms of the vocals, but only if that pop act was backed by a groovy hard rock band fronted by Carlos Santana that was capable of shifting rhythms at the drop of a dime. "Sweet Country," just as the title implies, tries on country-rock without batting an eye, and many of the songs graft similarly across-the-board influences together, and somehow generally do so in a tidy pop song framework of three to four minutes. It is terribly intriguing to listen to at least once, but unfortunately, the influences simply do not jibe well enough most of the time to sustain any sense of enjoyment or appreciation for the music. The album showed promise, but was far too haphazard to make much of an impression. Rocky Baum showed a nice flair for quirky songwriting, and when it worked, it worked well, but sonically Music From Merkin Manor is only half-baked.---Stanton Swihart


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