Kapt Kopter and the (Fabulous) Twirly Birds
Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1972-73)
- Randy California -- vocals, lead guitar
supporting musicians (1972-73)
- Charlie Bundy -- bass
- Larry Knight -- bass
- Henry Mchovitz (aka Leslie Sampson) -- drums
- Tim McGovern -- drums
- Clit McTorrius (aka Noe Redding) -- bass
- Cass Strange (aka Ed Cassidy) -- drums
- Janet Wolfe -- backing vocals
- Robin Wolfe -- backing vocals
- Randy California (solo efforts)
- Spirit (Randy California)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Kapt. Kopter and the (Fabulous) Twirly Birds
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: cut lower right corner
Catalog ID: 3297
When it came to interpersonal relationships, Spirit wasn't the most easy-going group of musicians you've ever encountered. Having finally enjoyed a measure of commercial success with 1971's "The Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus" the band exploded with singer/guitarist Randy California heading off for a solo career. Over the next year California spent a much of his time jamming in small Los Angeles clubs, while finding the time to have a brush with nervous exhaustion and a serious accident falling off a horse. Signed by Epic (which happened to be Spirit's label), in early 1972 California finally started his solo career with the release of a promotional single:
- 1972's 'Walkin' the Dog' b/w 'Live for Today' (Epic catalog number 5-10927)
The 45 did nothing, but Epic went ahead and financed a follow-up album. Produced California, "Kapt. Kopter and the (Fabulous) Twirly Birds" made for an interesting, if inconsistent early-'70s artifact, The album had a rushed, unpolished feel which didn't always frame California in the best light. Tracks like 'Mother and Child Reunion' and and extended 'Things Yet To Come' literally sounded like an in-studio jam session. Those criticisms were reinforced by the album's haphazard mixture of original material and cover tunes. There wasn't anything wrong with his choices in cover tunes - The Beatles, James Brown, Paul Simon ... but when you were such a talented writer, why waste the space? The three California originals were all far more impressive, even if the blazing opener 'Downer' and 'Devil' both reflected an apparent Jimi Hendrix obsession (understandable given the two had briefly played in Jimmy James and the Blue Flames). Anyhow, most of the highlights came in the form of California's lead guitar. If you wanted to pick up an album with aural storms of feedback, fuzz, wah-wah, backward tapes, and other effects, this was a great place to start (check out the remake of 'Rain'). Shame it was sooooo inconsistent, but it's an album that's continued to grow on me over the years.
Epic did little to support the album, though California gathered up a band featuring Spirit drummer Ed Cassidy and bassist John Fine (replaced by Larry Knight ),to play a couple of Los Angeles dates. Under pressure from Epic and booking agents, he also agreed to a European tour under the Spirit nameplate.
Kopter and the (Fabulous) Twirly Birds" track listing:
1.) Downer (Randy California) - 5:36
Easily the album's standout performance, with an assist from former Jimi Hendrix bassist Noel Redding (credited as Clit McTorrius), the hard rocking 'Downer' found California showcasing some of his best Hendrix and band of Gypsies moves. Okay, the last 30 seconds went of the rails into needless studio excess, but so what. YouTube has a nice clip of California and a reformed Spirit playing the tune on the German Rockpalast television show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JADcJb-o0jk
1.) Devil (Randy California) - 4:13 rating: **** stars
Sonically 'Devil' was another track that bore more than a passing resemblance to the work of California'srecently passed-on buddy Jimi Hendrix. That said, it was more than than just a carbon copy of Hendrix's sound ... loved the backward guitar effects which made for a lovely tribute to Hendrix and one of the album's highlight.
3.) I Don't Want Nobody (James Brown) - 4:25 rating: **** stars
Of the xx covers on the album, his remake of James Brown's 'I Don;t Want Nobody' was probably the most interesting tune. Imagine James Brown transformed into the Jimi Hendrix Experience ... Squeeze out the funk and inject some Hendrix-styled fuzz guitar and the results were ... surprisingly good.
4.) Day Tripper (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 3:00 rating: *** stars
Okay, California roughened up the song's edges, but he really didn't mess with the melody, or original arrangement which left you wondering why bother? I you felt a need to hear this one, why would you stray from the classic original?
5.) Mother and Child Reunion (Paul Simon) - 2:51 rating: ** stars
Geez, imagine the Paul Simon tune being run through a a slightly stoned, competent garage band and you'll no what to expect from this one. It sounded like a spur of the moment studio jam, but I can't say roughening up the song's edges made it any better. Wonder if Simon's ever heard this version ...
1.) Things Yet To Come (Victor Keith Philips - Lenny Lee Goldsmith) - 8:12 rating: *** stars
Another tune that sounded very much like an in-studio jam session, but with the exception of California's vocals which sounded like they'd been miked at the bottom of a well and the fact it went on way too long, actually came off pretty good. No idea what the sped up backwards vocals at the end are about - though I'm sure someone out there has taken the time to figure it out. = )
2.) Rain (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 8:38 rating: *** stars
Hum, if you've had the desire to hear 'Rain' transposed into a country hoedown, then I'd suggest check out the first minute of this one. If you want to hear a lysergic tune go into hyper-overdose, then listen to the rest of this one. Definitely different, though I'm still not sure if I like it of not.
3.) Rainbow (Randy California) - 3:30 rating: **** stars
His guitar work was stellar and 'Rainbow; was the most outwardly commercial track on the album. Awesome way to end the album.
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