Baldwin, Gary (& Mass Murder)
Band members Related acts
- Gary Baldwin -- lead guitar, flute
- M. Erannan - lead guitar, rhythm guitar
- H. Neal -- bass
- R. Parker -- bass
- Maurice Toich (aka Dick Beet) -- drums, percussion
- Dick Beet and Donna Caird
- Phantom 57 (Dick Beet)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: If I Could Only Play Piano
Country/State: Campbell, California
Grade (cover/record): VG / VG
Comments: original pasted on cover
GEMM catalog ID: 5328
Anyone got the scoop on this bizarre album? The cover credits it to 'Gary Baldwin and Mass Murder'. The inner label credits 'Gary Baldwin and Wombat Suicide'. Personally I kind of like the latter name ... Also interesting to see that the back label carried a thanks to the Bay area public radio station KKUP FM.
Yeah, 1979's "If I Could Only Play Piano" stands as one of the stranger albums in my collection. Produced by Maurice Toich (aka Dick Beet) who also played drums, flute and co-wrote all of the material with namesake Baldwin, the first couple of minutes were a pretty good indication of the aural mania the permeated this collection. Exceptionally raw and apparently recoded live, the album leaches the concept of homemade garage. Looking for sophisticated production, virtuoso playing, and complex songwriting - don't stop here. The cleverly titled 'Intro' started with some new age-ish flute and wind chimes, before ease dropping on what sounded like a cocktail party. The party ends abruptly with some lunatic screaming out the title track line and then exploded into roughly 19 minutes of free form guitar freak-out jams spread across three instrumentals 'The Whatt', 'Idaho Magic' and 'The Drain'. As lead guitarist Baldwin clearly had a thing for wah wah pedals and while his technique was somewhat rough, he made up for some of the shortcomings with a certain degree of manic enthusiasm. The flip side was equally eclectic divided between nine minutes of Eastern-influenced acoustic folk ('Fifty Years of It and I'm Still Trying To Get Back In') and ten minutes of silence fittingly entitled 'Silent Madness'. Yes - literally ten minutes of silence. I have to admit that it was kind of calming ... It's not exactly enlightening, but has kind of a curiosity factor that might well appeal to some of the more adventuresome collectors out there. Curiously while a couple of references indicate only 300 copies were pressed (according to Toich), but the LP seems to be readily available so there may have been subsequent pressings.
I Could Only Play Piano" track listing:
1.) Intro (You Wish, You Were) & (Gary Baldwin - Maurice Toich) - 2:30
2.) The Whatt (instrumental) (Gary Baldwin - Maurice Toich) - 8:55
3.) Idaho Magic (instrumental) (Gary Baldwin - Maurice Toich) - 5:30
4.) The Drain (instrumental) (Gary Baldwin - Maurice Toich) - 3:28
2.) Silent Madness (Gary Baldwin - Maurice Toich) - 10:00
Toich/Beet remains active in music having recorded some solo material, as well as worked with a number of California bands including Chris Crockett & the Homemade Band, The Retorts, and with former Harper's Biizarre front man Dick Yount.
So out of sheer curiosity I decided to see if I could track any of these guys down. I didn't have any luck with namesake Gary Baldwin, but I did find Maurice Toich who was kind enough to respond to an email query.
"Gary Baldwin was from Idaho and unfortunately I've lost contact with him. If you ever ran into him you'd know it because he had a black musical note tattooed on his cheek.
Anyway, back to the album. At the time I owned and operated the Airhole, Retna and Tetrabox record labels out of Campbell, California. I used my old band name Wombat Suicide on the "Baldwin" album labels and put a different name on the cover. As you can probably tell, the opening bass line was inspired by Pink Floyd, but the rest of the album featured all original material. I use to carve my own flutes out of bamboo and the results showed up on side two's 'Fifty Years of It and I'm Still Trying To Get Back In'. The ten minutes of dead time 'Space Silence' was meant as a test for your stereo system. Turn up you volume during the song and see if your system has hum or any other problems. By the way, the album was recorded live in the studio on a Magnacord 1/2 track, 2 channel 15 I.P.S. machine. It's simply amazing to see that The "Baldwin" LP is selling in Japan for over $125.
There's also some non-Gary Baldwin material. On Tetrabox I put out a single entitled 'Ultra Starz'. On Retna I released something credited to 'The Wooden Horse Band' [named after a bar owned by one of the band members]. There was a single that had four songs on it. I also put out a single entitled 'Tortsnomore'. I played drums on all of these and sang on some too. There are a couple of other items. There's a cover o 'Louie Louie' credited to 'The Loutons' and another version credited to 'Wendy and Those Guys'. I was also a member of the band Phantom 57. We recorded a CD of original songs and sold them at shows around the Bay area.
Anyhow, you got most of the information in there pretty good. If you ever get an e-mail from Gary Baldwin please let me know. Did you like the list of people who inspired the music? If you read it in cadence at a party out loud it's kind of funny when people are loaded."
M Toich (aka Dick Reed)
By the way, Toich/Beet has a small myspace site at:
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