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Relatively Clean Rivers

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Album Review

Many American rock LPs of the mid-'70s given very small pressings on tiny or vanity labels had something of a time warp hangover feel, as if the trends of hippie rock from about half a dozen years earlier were still in vogue. Relatively Clean Rivers' self-titled album is one such rarity, with an easygoing California folk-rock-psychedelic feel in which light-to-strong traces of Neil Young, the countrified Grateful Dead, and Quicksilver Messenger Service can be heard. It's different than the vast majority of such LPs, however, in that it's actually a fairly good collection of tunes with some decent songwriting and strong, professional playing and harmonizing. No one should investigate this under the illusion that it's nearly as good as the aforementioned influences, mind you. But it's quite alright, and also not as imitative as many artists from numerous eras were who claimed Neil Young and the Dead as influences. There's an attractive resigned, almost addled melancholy to the vocals and melodies that set this apart from the usual such fare, though some of the songs could certainly have benefited from more structured composing and arranging. There's some variety to the proceedings (and from the general folk-rock-psychedelic prototype) too, with some extended instrumental acoustic passages and a Middle Eastern influenced number, "The Persian Caravan," that recalls exotic early Country Joe & the Fish psychedelic excursions like "Section 43." Overall, the album almost gives the impression of documenting the dying embers of a band of hippies who've found refuge in one of the last safe places for souls of such a mindset, clinging to their credo as their species awaits oncoming extinction. The album became much easier to acquire following its CD reissue in the first decade of the 21st century.

Relatively Clean Rivers, Relatively Clean Rivers
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