Harlowe, Ray (and Gyp Fox)

Band members               Related acts

Wayne B. Case -- drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Dan Hall -- keyboards, guitar

- J.D. (John Dean) Hall -- guitar

- Ray Harlowe -- vocals, guitar, keyboards

- David Mott -- guitar

- Chuck Musselman -- bass



Ghostdance (Gyp Fox, John Dean Hall and 

  Chuck Musselman)





Genre: psych

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  First Rays

Company: Water Wheel

Catalog: WR 711

Year: 1978

Country/State: Winona, Minnesota

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 5270

Price: $150.00


The first time I heard this Winona, Minnesota-based outfit I mistook them for the mid-1970s Dead.  ‘Course I’d had a couple of beers that evening, but the lazy, stoned communal vibe, the Garcia-styled twangy guitar, the Pulitzer Prize winning lyrics (just kidding), all had me wondering which Dead album I was hearing.  So let that be a warning to any of you expecting to hear a much hyped psych treasure …  


Written and produced by namesake singer/guitarist Harlowe, 1978’s “First Ray” was apparently a vanity project released on the band’s own Minneapolis-based Waterwheel imprint.  Judging by these nine tracks, Harlowe and company weren’t the most accomplished band you’ve ever heard. As lead singer Harlowe had a decent, if limited and occasionally out of tune voice (check out his performance on ‘Cryin’ Shame’), while the band (including three guitarists) were competent, if seldom awe inspiring.  In spite of the obvious Dead-influence, the album was actually quite diverse with ‘Earthy Delights’ and ‘Cryin’ Shame’ featuring modestly discordant jazzy feels (maybe it was just too many drugs), ’My Lucky Star’ found the group taking a stab at country-rock, ‘Some Sweet Day’ was an attempt at being commercial (I’m using a broad definition here), and ‘Danny’s Blues’ offered up an entertaining set of stoned bar band blues before degenerating into a weird Allmans-styled jam segment where each member appeared to be playing a different tune.  Technically labeling this an aural disaster wouldn’t be that far off.  Ironically, while that description wouldn’t exactly be a ringing endorsement, the band’s earnest, if highly stoned approach tended to grow on you.  After a couple of spins you became acclimated to the set’s low-keyed, amateurish charm.  Imagine your teenager playing in a local band (hopefully not as chemically impaired) and you’ll get a feeling as to what to expect.  Standout track in terms of material, stoned effects and performance was the rocking closer ‘Getting Keyed’.   Bet they were fun to see in a small club …


"First Rays" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Go Ahead and Dance   (Ray Harlowe) – 4:10

2.) Be Away   (Ray Harlowe) – 3:00

3.) Earthy Delights   (Ray Harlowe) – 3:29

4.) Danny’s Blues   (Ray Harlowe) – 4:48


(side 2)
Cryin’ Shame   (Ray Harlowe) – 4:31

2.) Run   (Ray Harlowe) – 2:37

3.) Some Sweet Day   (Ray Harlowe) – 4:28

4.) My Luck Star   (Ray Harlowe) – 2:25

5.) Gettin’ Keyed   (Ray Harlowe) – 6:23  


Hopefully someone else out there can explain the connection …  I originally thought ‘Gyp Fox’ referred to the name of Harlowe’s backing band.  Turns out it referred to a guitarist by the same name who played on an album entitled “Ghostdance” (Root River Records catalog number 999) with James Dean Hall and Chuck Musselman.  Anyone got the story?