Friday, February 15, 2019

Mad River - Mad River (1968) [1979 German Reissue]

Mad River - Mad River (1968)
1979 German Reissue LP
Capitol Records ‎"Masterpiece" 1 C 038-85 882
~ThePoodleBites Rip in 96kHz / 24bit FLAC + Full High-Res Scans~

"A terrifying acid rock bad trip that sounds like nothing else ..." -Richard Morton Jack

"An extraordinary, groundbreaking band whose greatness has yet to be fully recognized." -Patrick Lundborg

It's hard for me to add much more to those two wonderful summaries. It's sad that this psych-rock masterpiece isn't as well-known as the band's SF-scene contemporaries, perhaps because Mad River was a little late to the party with this debut arriving in 1968. Every track is fantastic (some even hilarious: listen to the first verse in "Amphetamine Gazelle"), but the clear stand-out for me is the 12-minute epic "War Goes On," in which you'll hear rhythms as primitive as anything on Trout Mask Replica and melodies progressive as anything on In The Court Of The Crimson King, but a year before either of those records were released. If all you've ever heard is the CD reissue of this well-produced classic -- or even worse, you've never heard it at all -- you need to download this rip now. You're about to get your head blown off. 

I was turned onto this reissue by the late Patrick Lundborg, who mentions in the Acid Archives that it "is a slightly better pressing than the US original" (p. 203). After snagging a copy and comparing to a US original (borrowed from my friend M.S. -- thanks, man!), I decided to do this project. The inner grooves on the original US pressing lack in the top end, while this pressing plays evenly from start to finish. (If you don't believe me, check out "Hush Julian" from the original LP, which I've posted in the 'raw rips' folder, and hear the difference for yourself.) And this great pressing of this fantastic album can be had for less than $10!

Now, that is not to say that the original is completely worthless juxtaposed with this German reissue. Notably, this repro's cover (pictured above) is completely redesigned, and somewhat cheesy, and actually the first few tracks on each side are missing a hair of the "presence" found on the original pressing, notably in the crispness of cymbals. I'd attribute this to the German pressing likely being from a tape dupe of the original master; however, the difference is subtle and I think the improvements found on this pressing greatly outweigh the "cons."

One more note on Lundborg's Acid Archives entry for this album -- he made a mistake that needs to be corrected. He states that "the first LP recordings were accidentally sped up during the original mastering phase, which means that most releases including the 1968 original actually play at inaccurate speed" (p. 202). Lundborg goes on the say that the reissue CD (sourced from vinyl) corrects this, and indeed, it plays about 2% slower than the original LP and this German reissue. However, this speed difference was a mistake on the CD, not on the LPs! The vinyl transfer used on the CD sounds like it was played on a turntable with a stretched-out belt which caused it to play at an inaccurate speed. If you try to play along, everything is out-of-tune and in strange keys. On both LPs I've ripped, "Eastern Light" is perfectly in tune in Em, which would make much more sense to any human being that's ever held a guitar. The tunings also match that of the original Mad River EP, which has never been disputed in correctness. 

- Lawrence Hammond (vocal, bass)
- David Robinson (guitar)
- Tom Manning (guitar)
- Rick Bockner (guitar)
- Greg Dewey (drums, vocal)

Track Listing:
01) "Merciful Monks" -- 3:39
02) "High All The Time" -- 4:08
03) "Amphetamine Gazelle" -- 2:59
04) "Eastern Light" -- 7:56
05) "Wind Chimes" -- 7:17
06) "War Goes On" -- 12:24
07) "Hush Julian"  -- 1:12

Vinyl Condition: Near Mint
Dynamic Range: DR 12

– Audio-Technica AT150MLx Dual Moving-Magnet Cartridge
– Audio-Technica AT-LP1240-USB Direct Drive Professional Turntable (internal stock preamp/ADC removed)
– TCC TC-754 RIAA Phono Preamp (new regulated power supply, added LM7812 regulator)
– Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 MkII (96kHz / 24bit)
– Adobe Audition CC 2018 (recording)
– iZotope RX 7 Audio Editor (manual declicking, additional adjustments)
– Audacity 2.2.2 (fades between tracks, split tracks)
– Foobar2000 v1.4.2 (tagging, dynamic range analysis)

Google Drive:
Enjoy, pay it forward, and please leave comments below! :) 


  1. Many thanks TPB, you're always surprising me, stunning post!

  2. The tracks on the EP are different versions; they are not the same or even a remix of the ones on the LP. Consequently they are not a good reference for comparing the expected time. The easiest place to access them is the Big Beat Compilation: Nuggets From The Golden State: The Berkeley EPs

    I remember buying the Edsel reissue LP wherein the liner notes reports the band being very upset about the speed mastering of the Capital LP. Later I compared to a cassette version of the original LP. It didn't sound that different to me. I was suspicious that the person who gave me the cassette had used the Edsel version as their source and am very interested in listening to your version. I hope to finally hear the original!

    PS: they made (to my ears) an inferior second album called Paradise Bar And Grill and there's also Jersey Sloo - a outtakes EP The EP is definitely worth having. Apart from that, there is one track on the California Easter bootleg and a bootleg called Live 1966-67 (with shockingly bad sound) out there. I did speak to a dealer who reported a "Mad River Blues Band" boot but I've never seen this and it may well be the Live 1966-67 tracks.

    1. JohnM -- the point I was trying to make is that even though the Berkeley EP contains different versions of the tracks (and includes "Orange Fire," a non-album track) the *tunings*, specifically of "Amphetamine Gazelle" (or "A Gazelle" on the EP), are the same, that is they play in the same key. Thus the LP does not require speed correction.

      Also, I recommend revisiting Paradise Bar And Grill, which I love. If you're a fan of "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere", I think you may find new light in its strangeness, although some tracks are better than others.

      I have been wondering if there was ever any live recorded material. I will have to try and track that down.

    2. Hi

      Comments are necessarily short so apologies if I came across rude.

      I used to play in a band and while we had only guitars and bass, we tuned to each other, mainly to the lead guitar. In those days there was a only a tuning fork to help. For us musicians it only had to feel right - there was no attempt to get a "natural E". However When we added keyboards that had to change - we tuned to that. Years later listening back to tapes I was surprised that we had been playing as much as two semitones too low. No wonder the bass rattled. The point being that keyboards are properly tuned from the middle C. Consequently tracks recorded with a keyboard show the instruments in tune. Now the singer is missing the high notes.

      The point of this long anecdote is to agree that Eastern Light, a track with keyboard, is definitely in tune with Em on the LP (and on the CD).

    3. Let me quote the Edsel sleeve notes for the origin.

      "Pretty soon they were cutting their first album, but they were in the wrong studio with an old engineer who was very enthusiastic but knew nothing about rock, and a very strange thing happened. The recording and playback speeds were not the same, so everything on the album came out faster and higher than they had played it. Lawrence {Hammond} was understandably annoyed 'It just drove me nuts; when I heard the test pressings I said 'We've got to stop this' but I didn't know what you could do about it. The whole thing just sounded like a juggernaut that was out of control'. They were unable to stop it, and it came out to a barrage of negative publicity.
      - John Platt

    4. On reflection, I don't buy that story. What are test pressings for if not to catch errors?

      Moreover I note that a 2% speed error is within the error bars of a modern tuning meter. That doesn't sound remotely like the error that Lawrence is describing.
      If you want the live tracks I have, then be warned: Live 66-67 consists of 12 tracks in mp3 @ 160. California Easter Album has 11 tracks in FLAC, Love (4 tracks), Hot Sh1t (3 tracks) Mad River (2 tracks), & Blue Cheer (2 tracks). Let me know a way to get them to you.

      I don't hate Paradise.. it's just inferior. 'Leave Me/Stay' and 'Academy Cemetery' are good but Copper Plates sucks.

      Back to the debut. This LP is one of my top 10. And I have to say that your conversion is better than any of the prior versions I have heard. Thank you for taking the time.

      My request: Mandrake Memorial - Puzzle. This has had two CD outings (AFAIK). The Collectables one with bonus tracks, which has poor sound and a better sounding boot on an unknown label. No one seems able to separate the tracks correctly and the better sounding CD has clicks from the LP.

      Thanks again

    5. JohnM -- for the live recordings, please reach out to my email address on the bottom of the sidebar of this page. I'd really enjoy checking those out.

      A friend and I actually split the cost of an original sealed Puzzle, and I plan on posting it here at some point, but it has quite some groove noise so will take quite some time to bring up to the usual standard.

      In general, feel free to check out my 'General Discussion' post regarding requests. Thanks for all the comments! :)

  3. "The EP is definitely worth having."

    I mis-wrote this - I meant the Berkeley EP was definitely worth having. Jersey Sloo is interesting rather than essential.

    1. I just ripped the Jersey Sloo record and hope to post it here eventually … thanks again for all the comments! :)

  4. "The Poodle Bites.... The Poodle Chews It " ... You've done it again ! Thanks for all of the meticulous work so that we can enjoy the real deal. Thank you, masked man !

    1. Thanks for the comment Louis! :) I'm sure you know this version (over by Tom Wait's restaurant) --

    2. Oh yeah ...I know it ....and love it!!! One of my favourite eras of Frank's career ...with one of Frank's best Mothers configurations !

  5. On the google drive page I don't see the album tracks files - just foo and front and the folders above: Artwork, Lyrics from Lawrence Hammond and Working Versions. Please help. Thanks in advance!

  6. Great. Thank you. You're the best!

  7. The downloaded flac files play VERY quietly - REALLY have to crank up the volume to hear them at all??? Thanx
    What's up?

    1. Hi Mike, this sounds like it is likely a problem on your end. All my masterings maximize volume while maintaining full dynamic range. I suggest you check your equipment (probably DAC or amp) for faults.