San Francisco Sound – Fifth Pipe Dream – Volume I
all the wonderful artifacts shared from his archives; to Psych Trail Mix for invaluable information retrieval;
and to members of Tripsichord and WCNG for some invaluable fact verification.
|Original greyscale cover artwork for Fifth Pipe Dream – Volume I|
|Original colored cover artwork for Fifth Pipe Dream – Volume I|
... though I'm admittedly partial to the colored version, which "pops" a bit more than the lifeless grey print. The album's title is of course a play on the phrase "pipe dream," which means something fanciful or unrealistic. The origin of this phrase is more revealing: the Oxford English Dictionary writes that the etymology is "apparently with reference to the kind of visions experienced when smoking an opium pipe." The red flowers on the cover are probably poppies.
"Fifth Pipe Dream" was in fact one of several names that producer Matthew Katz had invented, copyrighted, and forced upon his unsuspecting musicians when they signed with his label. Owning the name of the band gave Katz (who insists his name is pronounced like "Cates") full legal control of any performances or recordings which bore it. When Jefferson Airplane split from Katz to pursue a major-label contract, an action that was soon followed by Moby Grape and It's A Beautiful Day, endless legal pursuits ensued. These groups had already spent considerable time and resources building a following under those monikers, so they could not simply change names, but they had no right to perform or record without permission from the original copyright holder.
After the departure of Moby Grape and a subsequent legal ruling that the name was still owned by Katz, a new band was assembled under the same name for touring purposes, which consisted primarily of members from Tripsichord Music Box, West Coast Natural Gas, and others. This assemblage played Moby Grape songs under the Moby Grape name, and sometimes even dressed like Moby Grape did on their debut album cover, but none of Skip Spence/Jerry Miller/Don Stevenson/etc were present. Although Tripsichord guitarist Frank Straight remembers that this was "well-accepted within the crowd," there are several accounts of disappointed or enraged fans demanding refunds for their tickets. Katz seems to remember this somewhat fondly: "Tripsichord made a great job of it. They did a better job than the original guys. They were disciplined, they worked better together, they liked each other and they listened to each other and they sang better (except for Bob Mosley, of course – he was an excellent singer). When Frank Straight played the Moby Grape stuff, he played it as well as Jerry Miller did, but he added his own flavor to it – it was actually better. They went over well, but the audience gave us a bad rap – the people with the attitude."
Katz has become a controversial figure over the years, and he has been the subject of much scrutiny for his production approach, and for being a "vexatious litigant" – a description apparently assigned to him by a presiding judge – which sadly impacts his artists even today. One can simultaneously imagine, however, how disheartening these developments must have been for Katz, who gave these unknown bands a jump-start into a new worldwide sensation, yet was slowly abandoned by those he had originally fought for, not against.
While Katz was the sole originator and proprietor of San Francisco Sound, he is joined in production by Mark Uzilevsky a.k.a. Marcus a.k.a. Rusty Evans, the infamous acidhead bandleader behind The Deep, The Third Rail, The Freak Scene, and other studio groups. In fact, Uzilevsky also appears here as a songwriter and performer, as Pat Craig recalls:
"Aquarian Dream is a song that Katz put together after It's A Beautiful Day split with him so that he would have a B-side and could release Bulgaria as a single. I am playing on the cut along with Mark Uzilevksy (Rusty Evans), who is the singer and guitarist and producer, and June Richards (Katz's girlfriend). I think Jeff LaBrache may have been playing drums, but I'm not sure. Frank [Straight] from Tripsichord did the lead guitar."
|Original San Francisco Sound "It's A Beautiful Day" sticker on red-orange DayGlo paper. Design by Donna Wallace-Cohen|
|Original greyscale gatefold design, with photo montage of the bands and several uncredited others|
|The colored cover featured largely the same design, save for the purple hue and an additional design credit|
Gently spoken words deliver
Message of the sea...
Looking out, we realize
All is as it seems
|"Merry Christmas" S.F. Sound sticker, which may have been included with some promo copies of the Fifth Pipe Dream LP|
|Article in Billboard Magazine, 26 Oct 1968|
Dynamic Range: DR12
Vinyl condition: M-
– Audio-Technica VMN40ML stylus on AT150MLx dual moving-magnet cartridge
– Audio-Technica AT-LP1240-USB direct drive professional turntable (internal stock preamp/ADC removed)
– Pro-Ject Phono Box S2 Ultra preamp with dedicated Zero Zone linear power supply
– Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 MkII (96kHz / 24bit)
– Adobe Audition CC 2020 (recording)
– iZotope RX 7 audio editor (manual declicking, EQ subtraction, additional adjustments)
– Audacity 2.3.3 (fades between tracks, split tracks)
– Foobar2000 v1.5.1 (tagging, dynamic range analysis)
|West Coast Natural Gas lighting up (source)|