Fever Tree


Band members               Related acts

  line up 1 (1967)

- Jerry Cambell -- lead guitar 

- Dennis Keller -- vocals 

- Michael Stephen Knust (RIP 2003) -- lead guitar

- Don Lampton (RIP 2009) -- keyboards 

- John Tuttle -- drums, percussion 

- E.E. 'Bud' Wolfe -- bass

 

  line up 2 (1967-70)

- Jerry Cambell -- lead guitar 

- Dennis Keller -- vocals 

- Michael Stephen Knust (RIP 2003) -- lead guitar

NEW - Rob Landes -- keyboards (replaced Don Lampton) 

- John Tuttle -- drums, percussion-

- E.E. 'Bud' Wolfe -- bass -

 

  line up 3 (1970)

- Jerry Cambell -- lead guitar 

- Dennis Keller -- vocals 

NEW - Kevin Kelly -- drums (replaced John Tuttle) 

- Grant Johnson -- keyboards (replaced Rob Landes) 

NEW - Michael Stephen Knust (RIP 2003) -- lead guitar

- E.E. 'Bud' Wolfe -- bass

 

  line up 4 (1978-79)

NEW - Kenneth Blanchet -- bass (1978-79)

NEW - Pat Brennan -- vocals, keyboards (1978-79)

- Dennis Keller -- vocals (1967-70 78)

NEW - Robbie Parrish -- drums, percussion (1978-79)

 

 

 

 

- none known

 

 

 


 

Genre: psych

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Fever Tree

Company: Uni

Catalog: 

Year: 1967

Country/State: Houston, Texas

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: original inner sleeve; sticker on cover

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 5383

Price: $15.00

 

By and large Texas-based psych is viewed with great favor within collector's circles, but for some reason Houston's Fever Tree stands as a glaring exception to the rule.  Given the band was actually quite talented, I've wondered why the disconnect and the only really answer I can come up with is that they were viewed as being early 'sell outs' via their contract with Uni Records.   

 

 

Before going any further, let me direct everyone to a pair of fascinating Fever Tree related websites.  The first is a great tribute site with one flaw - it's in German so will be of marginal value to most folks:

 

http://homeofsynonym.com/fevertree.htm

 

The second is an in depth interview that was conducted by Scott B. (I don;t know his last name) with Fever Tree guitarist Michael Knust before his September 2003 death:

 

http://www.thepsychedelicguitar.com/knust.htm

 

 

Fever Tree traces it's roots to the mid-1960s when Knust was still in high school, teaching guitar on the side.  One of his students was E.E. Wolfe.  Inspired by The Beatles (who wasn't), Knust suggested Wolfe might be interested in starting a band.  He also suggested Wolfe might want to switch to bass. Jerry Campbell was a fellow guitar teacher and was invited to join.  Dennis Keller was also taking guitar lessons at the same place.  Knust was less than impressed with Keller's guitar chops, but liked his voice and approached him about handling vocals for a band.  With the addition of kyeboardist Don Lampton and drummer John Tuttle the group began rehearsing as The Bostwick Vines, playing local school dances and clubs only to lose Campbell to the draft.  With Knust taking over lead guitar the revamped band hooked up with local newspaper writer Scott Holtzman and his wife Vivian (the pair had previously written material for country artist Tex Ritter, The New Christy Minstrels, as well as the Mary Poppins soundtrack).  The Holtzman's signed on as the group's manager, helping the band get together a repetoire of covers and original material.  Holtzman also used his credentials to line up various club dates, including an opening slot on The Jefferson Airplane's 1966 Houston date.

 

Holzman also arranged for the band to audition for Bobby Shad's Mainstream label, resulting in the Holtzman friend/keyboardist Rob Landes replacing original keyboardist Lampton and the release of their debut single on Mainstream 'Hey Mister' b/w 'I Can Beat Your Drum' (Mainstream catalog number 661).  That was followed by 'Girl, Oh Girl (Don't Push Me)' b/w 'Steve Lenore' (Mainstream catalog number 665).

   

Produced by the Holtzmans who also wrote most of the material with keyboardist Landis, "Fever Tree" should have been a massive commercial success.  Admittedly these guys weren't the most original band out there, but their debut featured some great material, complete with blistering Knust guitar, acid soaked lyrics ('Unlock My Door'), enough pop smarts for them to score a hit with 'San Francisco Girls', and oodles of studio sound effects (yes that was a real Houston rainstorm they recorded on 'Come with Me (Rainsong)').  Geez a couple of the band members even sported turtle necks and there appeared to be at least one Nehru jacket on the cover.  That left you to wonder why the album's been largely ignored over the ensuing years ...  Shame 'cause it is good.  The good news is that collectors can still find original copies at reasonable prices.   Alright, what about the music?   Musically the album was surprisingly diverse, bouncing all over the spectrum including a slice of Johann Sebastian Bach ('Imitation Situation1 (Toccata and Fugue)'), fuzz-propelled rockers ('Where Do You Go?) and even orchestrated pop ('The Sun Also Rises').  There were plenty of  highlights.  While it wasn't a major chart hit (# 91), 'San Francisco Girls' was probably the best San Francisco-themed song of the time.  'Man Who Painted Pictures', '' and '' were all top notch rockers.  The band also deserved credit for their good taste in covers - Wilson Pickett, The Beatles, and The Buffalo Springfield.  While lots of critics weren't particularly enamored with lead singer Keller's voice,  I have to admit liking it.  While he may not have had the greatest vocal range, Keller's ragged power was quite impressive and still sounds contemporary today (check out his throat searing cover of Wilson Pickett's 'Ninety Nine and a Half' (Won't Do').  He was certainly more talented than have of the grunge acts that clog today's tightly formatted radio stations. Yeah, it wasn't perfect.  Some of the Dave Angel and Gene Page string arrangements were a bit saccharine and the freak out 'Filigree and Shadow' was simply boring.   Propelled by the single and a national tour opening for the likes of The Jeff Beck Group, Pacific Gas and Electric, and Steppenwolf, the album peaked at # 156.  In addition to the hit single, Uni tapped the album for a follow-up in the form of a nifty Neil Young/Buffalo Springfield cover:

 

- 1968's 'San Francisco Girls (Return of the Native)' b/w 'Come with Me (Rainsong)' (Uni catalog number 55095)

- 1969's 'Clancy (Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing)' b/w 'The Sun Also Rises' (Uni catalog number 55172)

 

 

In between those two releases there was also a non-LP 45:

 

- 1968's 'Love Makes The Sun Rise' b/w 'Filigree And Shadow' (Uni catalog number 55146)

 

 

"Fever Tree" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Imitation Situation1 (Toccata and Fugue) (instrumental)    (Scott Holtzman - Vivian Holztman - Rob Landes - J.S. Bach) - 2:32

2.) Where Do You Go?   (Scott Holtzman - Vivian Holztman - Michael Knust) - 2:25

3.) San Francisco Girls (Return of the Native)   (Scott Holtzman - Vivian Holztman - Michael Knust) - 3:58

4.) Ninety Nine and a Half (Won't Do)   (Wilson Pickett - Steve Cropper) - 2:45

5.) Man Who Paints the Pictures   (Scott Holtzman - Vivian Holztman) - 2:32

6.) Filigree and Shadow   (Scott Holtzman - Vivian Holztman) - 3:51

 

(side 2)
1.) The Sun Also Rises   (Scott Holtzman - Vivian Holztman) - 2:41

2.) Day Tripper/We Can Work It Out   (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 3:27

3.) Clancy (Nowdays Clancy Can't Even Sing)   (Neil Young) - 3:00

4.) Unlock My Door   (Scott Holtzman - Vivian Holztman - Rob Landes) - 3:45

5.) Come with Me (Rainsong)   (Scott Holtzman - Vivian Holztman - Rob Landes)  - 3:45

 

 

 


Genre: psych

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Another Time Another Place

Company: Uni

Catalog: 73040

Year: 1968

Country/State: Houston, Texas

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: not yet listed

Price: $15.00

 

 

Recorded in an around the band's first national tour, 1968's "Another Time, Another Place" found the group continuing their partnership with the Holzmans who again produced and wrote most of the material.  Reflecting growing confidence and comfort in a recording environment, the sophomore album was far stronger than their debut, material like 'Man Who Paints the Pictures, Part 2', 'Don't Come Crying To Me Girl' and '' avoided the debut's already somewhat dated pop and psych-flavored outings in favor of a heavier rock sound.  That was a smart move since Keller's gruff delivery (he occasionally recalled a less coarse Jim Morrison), was perfectly suited for their more rock oriented repertoire.  Having listened to the album for the first time in a couple of years, The Doors comparison wasn't half bad - anyone doubting the comparison need only check out 'Grand Candy Young Sweet'.  The shift to a more rock oriented attack also played well to the band's instrumental strengths.  Knust turned in a series of nice performances - check out his fuzz solo on their surprisingly effective cover of the old chestnut 'Fever'.  That said the album wasn't perfect.  Supposedly written in the wake of an acid trip and featuring a vocal from Knust, 'I've Never Seen Evergreen' served as the LP's psych number, while 'What Time Did You Say It Is In Salt Lake City' was a bland blues number, and the jazzy 'Jokes Are for Sad People' served as a needless showcased for the band's instrumental prowess (including a Landes flute solo). In spite of some flaws (notably on side two), well worth checking out.)  While the LP proved a decent seller hitting # 86, the pressures of touring, business issues that left the band stuck with some massive touring bills, and personality conflicts saw Keller quit in late 1968.  The band subsequently called it quits with Knust returning to Houston where he briefly formed the band Ark.

 

"Another Time Another Place" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Man Who Paints the Pictures, Part 2   (Scott Holtzman - Vivian Holztman - Michael Knust) - 

2.) What Time Did You Say It Is In Salt Lake City   (Scott Holtzman - Vivian Holztman) - 

3.) Don't Come Crying To Me Girl   (Scott Holtzman - Vivian Holztman - Rob Landes) - 

4.) Fever   (Cooley - Davenport) - 

5.) Grand Candy Young Sweet   (F. Davis) -

 

(side 2)
1.) Jokes Are for Sad People (instrumental)   (Scott Holtzman - Vivian Holztman - Rob Landes) 

2.) I've Never Seen Evergreen   (Scott Holtzman - Vivian Holztman - Michael Knust) - 

3.) Peace of Mind   (Woods) - 

4.) Death Is the Dancer   (Scott Holtzman - Vivian Holztman - Rob Landes) - 

 

 

 


Genre: psych

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Creation

Company: Uni

Catalog: 73067

Year: 1969

Country/State: Houston, Texas

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: --

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: not yet listed

Price: $

 

After a year long separation, Uni management convinced the band to regroup and relocate to California.  Again produced by husband and wife team of Scott and Vivian Holzman, 1969's "Creation" was actually far better than circumstances should have allowed.  Reuniting in the wake of earlier and ongoing personality issues, the fact they were actually able to complete an album was quite an accomplishment.  The fact that so much of the LP was worthwhile was even more impressive.  With the Holzmans again responsible for the majority of the nine tracks, musically the set was far more diverse and commercial than the sophomore set.  That was particularly true for three songs penned by Jancy Lee Tyler (anyone know who she was?).  Complete with female backing vocalists, the opener 'Woman, Woman' spotlighted Keller doing his most commercial Jim Morrison vamp, while 'Wild Woman Ways' and 'Run Past My Window' would have sounded fine on top-40 radio.  Sporting a pretty melody and a string arrangement, the Holzmans' 'Love Makes the Sun Rise' was even more radio-friendly.  In case anyone was under the impression the group had completely sold out '' and '' were more conventional rockers, while 'Fever Glue' provided the mandatory blues number.  Uni apparently did little in the realm of promotional support, though they tapped the album for a pair of singles in the form of: The Doorsy 'Catcher In the Rye' b/w 'What Time Did You Say It Is In Salt Lake City' (Uni catalog number 55202) and 'Love Makes the Sun Rise' b/w 'Filigree and Shadow' (Uni catalog number 55146 ).

"Creation" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Woman, Woman  (Jancy Lee Tyler) - 

2.) Love Makes the Sun Rise   (Scott Holtzman - Vivian Holztman - F. Davis) - 

3.) Catcher In the Rye   (Scott Holtzman - Vivian Holztman - Rob Landes) - 

4.) Wild Woman Ways   (Jancy Lee Tyler) - 

5.) Fever Glue   (Scott Holtzman - Vivian Holztman) - 

 

(side 2)

1.) Run Past My Window   (Jancy Lee Tyler) - 

2.) Imitation Situation 1 (complete and unabridged)   (Scott Holtzman - Vivian Holztman - Rob Landes) - 

3.) Time Is Now   (Scott Holtzman - Vivian Holztman - Michael Knust) - 

4.) The God Game   (Scott Holtzman - Vivian Holztman - Rob Landes) - 

 

The band began touring in support of the LP, but the recently married Keller decided he'd had enough of it and opted out, returning to Houston.  The band subsequently called it quits another time though that didn't stop Uni from releasing a posthumous single:

- 1969's 'I Am' b/w 'Grand Candy Young Sweet' (Uni catalog number 55228)

 

 

 


Genre: psych

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  For Sale

Company: Ampex

Catalog: A-10113

Year: 1970

Country/State: Houston, Texas

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: minor corner wear

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 5369

Price: $25.00

 

Though credited as a Fever Tree release, 1970's ironically-titled "For Sale" was little more than a collection of the earlier Mainstream sides (which may have been rerecorded) and leftover Uni-era odds and ends.  A quick glance at the liner notes indicated the band had basically collapsed with keyboardist Rob Landis and drummer John Tuttle credited as 'formerly of Fever Tree'.  Their places were taken by former Byrds drummer Kevin Kelley, keyboardist Grant Johnson, and various members of the Wrecking Crew and The Blackberries on ill thought out backing vocals.  In an online interview guitarist Michael Knust expressed few memories of working on the LP.  In fact the only track he seemed to have any recollections of were putting lead guitar on the group's cover of Love's 'She Comes In Colors'.  Most of the material was less than impressive with Keller sounding particularly uninspired (on a couple of tracks like You're Not the Same Baby'' he actually sounded like he was singing with marbles in his mouth).  As for the side long 'Hey Joe' cover - well ...  it was long.  For his part lead guitarist Michael Knust was all but absent from the proceedings.  That left the two Mainstream songs ('Hey Mister' and 'Girl Don't Push Me') and the Love cover as the album highlights.

 

"For Sale" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) I Put a Spell On You   (Slotkin - Hawkins) - 3:23

2.) You're Not the Same Baby   (Scott Holtzman - Vivian Holtzman) - 3:46

3.) She Comes In Colors   (Arthur Lee) - 3:04

4.) Hey Mister    (Scott Holtzman - Vivian Holtzman) - 2:06  

5.) Come On In   (Sean Bonniwell) - 2:50

6.) Girl Don't Push Me   (Scott Holtzman - Vivian Holtzman) - 2:39

 

(side 2)

1.) Hey Joe   (Billy Roberts) - 12:56

 

The band's brief Ampex affiliation also saw a pair of singles released:

- 1970's 'She Comes In Colors' b/w 'You're No the Same Baby' (Ampex catalog number A-11013)

- 1970's 'I Put a Spell On You' b/w 'Hey Joe, Where You Gonna Go' (Ampex catalog number A-11028)

 

 

 


Genre: psych

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Return

Company: Buttermilk

Catalog: 711X4779-102

Year: 1978

Country/State: Houston, Texas

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG+

Comments: 4 track 7" EP

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 5

Price: $35.00

 

Prodded by former manager Scott Holtzman, in 1978 guitarist Michael Knust returned to Houston and resurrected Fever Tree with with singer Dennis Keller.  Fronted by Keller and Knust with support from new members Kenneth Blanchet (bass), Pat Brennan (keyboards/vocals) and Robbie Parrish (drums), the group began playing around Houston and the Gulf Coast club circuit.  Unfortunately personality issues reared themselves and within a year both manager Holtzman and Keller been fired.  Keyboardist Brennan stepped into pick up the vocals.  The resurrected line up managed to struggle through a four track EP "Return" and a live set (see below), before collapsing.  

 

left to right

Robbie Parris - Pat Brennan - Michael Knust - Kenneth Blanchet

 

"Return" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Mama Hang On   (Scott Holtzman - Vivian Holtzman) - 2:40

2.) Nowdays Clancy Can't Even Sing   (Neil Young) - 2:22

 

(side 2)

1.) Rhythm Fix   (Keith Blanchet - Mike Palmer) - 2:25

2.) You Don't See Me   (Al Jarreau)

 

 

ee Me


Genre: psych

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Live At Lake Charles 1978

Company: Shroom

Catalog: 98004
Year: 1999

Country/State: Houston, Texas

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: --

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 5

Price: $

 

"Live At Lake Charles 1978" captured the final performance of the resurrected late-1970s era Fever Tree (Robbie Parris - Pat Brennan - Michael Knust - Kenneth Blanchet).  According to an interview with Fever Tree guitarist Michael Knust, the idea for a live set was his and he was responsible for contacting Charly Bickly of Buttermilk Music in arranging for the live recording.  Ironically ensuing issues with respect to ownership of the resulting master tapes kept the album shelved for some 20 years.  Essentially Knust with a cast of backing musicians, the album featured a mixture of revamped Fever Tree numbers and more recent Knust compositions.  Several of those newer numbers reflected an unexpected jazz-rock fusion edge which was apparently a reflection of where Knust's personal interests had led him during the mid-1970s when he lived in Southern California.

 

"Live At Lakes Charles 1978" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Mama Hang Around   (Michael Knust) - 

2.) San Francisco Girls (Return of the Native) 

3.) Don't It Burn   (Michael Knust) - 

4.) The Man Who Paints the Pictures

5.) Cruzzin'   (Michael Knust) - 

 

(side 2)

1.) Puppetmaster   (Michael Knust) - 

2.) Angelina   (Scott Holtzman) - 

3.) Party Time Anytime   (Michael Knust) - 

4.) Know I Care   (Michael Knust) - 

5.) Spirit   (Al Jarreau)

 

Following the album's release Knust moved back to Houston where he bought a home, built a small studio (Airtight Recording Studio) and began playing in local bands, including Special Forces.  In the early 1990s he relocated to Austin where he continued his production work, as well gigging as part of the Michael Knust Band and The Knightsnakes.  Unfortunately a pair of nasty car accidents severely damaged his playing hand, forcing him to undergo multiple surgeries and essentially re-learn the guitar.  Sadly Knust reportedly died from a drug overdose in September 2003.  He was only 54.

 

I'm not sure what Dennis Keller is doing.

 

Rob Landes was teaching at Florida's St. Thomas University, but appears to have moved on as of 2007 (I didn't see his name on the faculty listing).

 

Drummer John Tuttle got out of music and found work in construction.

 

Bassist John Wolfe also got out of music and found his calling in photography.

 

Band managers Scott and Vivian Holtzman have also both passed on. 

 

There are a slew of posthumous 'best of' compilations.  Some are legitimate, some questionable.  

 

 

1985 saw the US Backtrac label release "The Best of Fever Tree" (Backtrac catalog number MSP-30003).

 

1986 saw the French Era label release "San Francisco Girls: The Best of Fever Tree".  A 16 track compilation, the album featured a mix of the Mainstream singles, a heavy dollop of material from the debut, a couple of rarities, and a nice biography (ERA catalog number 5015-2).

 

1986 also saw the British See for Miles label release "San Francisco Girls".  A 17 track set, the retrospective included the debut LP in it's entirity, along with seven miscellaneous tracks, including a live version of 'San Francisco Girls (Return of the Native', a radio commercial, and a couple of forgotten late inning tracks (See for Miles catalog number 71).  The Gear Fab label reissued this one in CD format in 2001 (Gear Fab catalog number GF-199).

 

Released by the Phantom label, 2002 saw the CD format "Filigree and Shadow".  A 15 track set, it covers the same ground as the earlier retrospectives.

 

 

 

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