$27 Snap On Face

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1975-77)

- Joe Doherty (RIP 1993) -- lead guitar

- Ron Ingalshe (RIP) -- drums, percussion

- Steve Nelson -- bass, vocals

- Bob O'Conner -- lead guitar, vocals

- David Petri -- vocals, percussion


  supporting musicians:

- David -- harmonica

- Frank Walburg -- keyboards 




- none known





Genre: psych

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  $27 Snap On Face In Heterodyne State Hospital

Company: Heterodyne Records and Distributing Company

Catalog: 0001-002-00001

Year: 1977

Country/State: Sebastopol, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+ 

Comments: gatefold sleeve; blue vinyl, includes lyric insert

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2280

Price: $175.00


Some dealers have portrayed this one as a deranged acid-tinged psych classic.  Like most things in life you should take that description with a grain of salt.  Not intended to diss the album, but to my ears these guys sound much more like an above average '60s garage band with an occasional fascination for ghoulish Captain Beefheart weirdness.   


Biographically I can't tell you much about this outfit, though I'd bet my next paycheck they weren't really asylum inmates (perhaps quite a damaged crew, but not certifiable).  The liner notes credited the line-up as rhythm guitarist Joe Doherty, drummer Ron Ingalsh, bassist Steve Nelson, lead guitarist Bob O'Conner and singer David Petri.  Elsewhere some of the reference materials I've seen indicated these were from Sebastopol, California (slightly north of San Francisco).  





The group debuted with a rare and collectable, self-financed single:


1975's 'Let's Have an Affair' b/w 'Kicking Around' ((Heterodyne Record Co. catalog 0001)








Two years later the band released an independent, self-produced album.  "$27 Snap On Face In Heterodyne State Hospital featured all original material, with O'Connor, Doherty and Petri each contributing to the writing chores.  In addition to the earlier single, sonically the set was pretty basic, with much of the mix sporting a distant, kind of echo-ish sound.  'Course I'd argue that didn't really hurt the proceedings.  Petri's snarling voice (with his short blonde hair he looked like a Sting wannabe) and O'Connor's chunky guitar (love the unique $ shape - see the inner cover for a picture of it), propelled most of the album giving tracks like 'Turn To Glass', 'Kicking Around' (the most conventional and commercial song) and 'Let's Have An Affair' a unique garage-cum-punk sound.  Strange liner notes coupled with tracks like 'Tie Your Boots Tight', 'Sleeping in a Technical Bed' (don't ask since I don't have a clue what the lyrics were about) added in a healthy dose of weirdness.  Still, the results were actually quite energetic and entertaining.  Mind you, this wasn't an album you'd play all the time, but it's got a place in my 'keeper' collection (I'm selling a duplicate copy).  The band apparently pressed 1,000 copies and all were pressed on clear blue vinyl.  


"$27 Snap On Face" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Tie Your Boots Tight    (Jim Doherty - David Petri) - 6:28   rating:*** stars

How to describe this one ?  Freaked out blues-rocker ?  BeefheartZappa wanna be ?   Powered by Petri's Beefheart-styled vocals, 'Tie Your Boots Tight ' was a good example of why the album was an acquired taste.  The song actually had a likeable melody and kudos to lead guitarist Bob O'Conner  for turning in some of the album's best work, but it was ...  well, it was definitely different.  In fact, for years I wondered what the world it was about and then I stumbled on to something co-writer Petri had added to a YouTube clip of the song: "One of my favorite set of lyrics from the album. I wrote this song about a 5 year old kid who couldn't tie his own shoes. That is the chorus. The verses are about me. I taught the kid to tie his shoes and then wrote the song. Very popular song "live"."
2.) Turn to Glass   (Bob O'Connor - 3:34

Showcasing O'Connor's fluid Allman Brothers-styled guitar work and espousing kind of a surf-rock feel, 'Turn To Glass' was one of the album's more commercial tunes.  Nice.   rating:*** stars
3.) The Decadents    (Jim Doherty - David Petri)  - 6:37
   rating:*** stars

Nice slice of bar band boogie with the spotlight seemingly on drummer Ingalshe.  Have to admit that I liked  Petri's growling voice on this one.   
4.) Two Timer    (David Petri)  - 4:00
   rating:*** stars

Exemplified by the cover art, the hype surrounding the album centered on the supposed fact it had been recorded in California's Sonoma State Mental Health facility.   Seems unlikely, but if there was a tune that sounded like it might have been recorded in a mental health facility, then t was probably the echo-fillled ballad 'Two Time'.   Unlike most of the album, this one actually had lysergic element embedded in the sweet melody.   
5.) I Guess I Must Look the Type    (David Petri)  - 5:20
   rating:*** stars

'I Guess I Must Look the Type' offered up a slice of Beefheart-meets--good time country-rock.  Another set of bizarre lyrics ...


(side 2)
1.) Let's Have An Affair    (David Petri)  - 3:29    rating: **** stars

Maybe due to the song's retro-'60s garage rock vibe, or the unexpectedly smooth backing vocals, I've always thought 'Let's Have An Affair' was one of the album's highlights.  I'm usually not a big fan of the instrument, and though I'm not sure who contributed the rocking harmonica solo (the liner notes credited 'David), it was impressive.  As mentioned earlier, the song had previously been released as a single.  

2.) Kicking Around   (Bob O'Connor) - 3:55    rating: **** stars

Originally appearing as the 'B' side on their debut single, 'Kicking Around' was a relatively straightforward rocker that showcased O'Connor's rollicking lead guitar.  One of the album's best performances.
3.) Sally Hitched A Ride   (Bob O'Connor) - 4:20
    rating: **** stars

Stripped of all the goofiness. 'Sally Hitched a Ride' was a wonderful '60s tinged garage rocker.   Shame they didn't opt to go down this route more often/    
4.) Mr. John   (Bob O'Connor)    (David Petri)  - 4:08  
rating: ** stars

Like Jacques Brel styled ballads ?  Like a touch of accordion in your rock and roll ?   Well if you did 'Mr. John' might be up your alley.   If like me, you didn't, this was going to be a painful four minutes.  
5.) Sleeping in a Technical Bed   (Bob O'Connor) - 9:24
    rating: **** stars

I'm a sucker for classic '60s garage rock and complete with stabbing Farfisa organ, O'Connor's dirty guitar solo, and Ingalshe's frenetic drums, 'Sleeping in a Technical Bed' was another album highlight.   Back to '66 ... Let's go to Reno.   


From a 2016 eBay posting I learned a little more about the band:


The band continued to perform for a short time after the album was released, mostly doing union gigs in the Sonoma County area, (but also opening for a couple of Cheech and Chong shows), before eventually calling it a day. 


- Doherty passed away in 1993.

- Ingalsbe is also dead - details unknown

- O'Connor now lives in Hawaii.

- Petri is a realtor in Cobb, California.

- Keyboardist Walburg runs a vacation community in Santa Rosa.



In 2015 the German Original Music reissued the set in re-mastered CD (catalog number OM 71082) and vinyl (catalog number OM 71083-1) formats.