One St. Stephen


Band members                              Related acts

- One St. Stephens (aka Don L. Patterson) -- vocals, guitar

 

  supporting musicians:

- Charles Bleak -- bass

- Bill Blechschmid -- 
- Terry Finneran -- flute, keyboards, harp
- Danny Lawson -- 
- David Pierce --
- Franklin Reynolds -- drums, percussion
- Bruce Roberts -- 
- Charles Squires -- 


 

 

- none known

 

 

 


 

Genre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  One St. Stephen

Company: none listed (Austrian bootleg)

Catalog: 710

Year: 1975

Country/State: Cincinnati, Ohio

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: bootleg copy; price sticker residue on the cover; # 96 out of 385 pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1035

Price: $100.00

 

Don L. Patterson was the mastermind behind One St. Stephen. Interestingly, Patterson's original artistic focus wasn't music, rather film. Accordingly, the mid-'70s found him working on a film project tentatively entitled "The Devil's Reservation". As part of the project in 1975 he went into Columbus' Owl Studios, writing and recording an album's worth of material.  He also handled lead vocals, lead guitar, produced and designed the album cover.  Word of mouth interest led Patterson to finish the project and finance a limited pressing (reportedly some 2,000 copies) for friends and acquaintances. Patterson's subsequently claimed that he made his money back within three months. 

So tell us about this sought after classic ... First off, lots of reference works draw comparisons between Patterson and Jim Morrison and the Doors. Unfortunately, if you're looking for The Doors, "One St. Stephen" probably won't do much for you. True, on a couple of tracks ('November' and 'Nightly Drift'). Patterson's mannered vocals bore a mild comparison to Morrison, but that was pretty much where the comparison stopped. Exemplified by original material such as 'November Edgar', 'Without You', and 'In Your Mind' most of the album had a fairly mainstream rock sound. Blessed with an attractive and versatile voice (check out the second side where he displays his versatility), Patterson also proved an impressive guitarist and synth player. Personal favorites, the proto-punkish 'You Maybe Religious' and the psych-influenced ballad 'Silver Children'. Unlike many rarities, this one clearly lives up to the hype (though you may not want to shell out $600-$700 for an original copy). Consistently appealing, the album also exhibited a level of production that is far above most contemporary independent sets. The album achieved considerable attention throughout Ohio and the Midwest leading to a contract offer from at least one major label. Interested in painting and film, Patterson reportedly turned the offer down.

 

As a quick postscript, this Austrian pressed bootleg included four bonus tracks that weren't actually One St. Stephen material.  All four bonus tracks were supposedly tunes recorded by the Boston based '60s band The Front Porch Review, or band member Steve Cataldo's subsequent Saint Steven album (so you can see where the confusion may have originated)..  'Without You', 'Silver Children' and 'Valley of Eyes' were in Fact Front Page Review tunes, but 'In Your Mind' is a mystery not showing up on either the Front Page Review or Saint Steven LPs.  Who knows.

"One St. Stephen" track listing:

(side 1)
1.) November Edgar   (Don L. Patterson) - 7:28

The oncoming storm, parking car, and opening door sound effects were a curious way to start the song, but once 'November Edgar' got going it was worth the wait.  Clearly inspired by Edgar Allen Poe, the track had  a slightly ominous feel (it would be a great Halloween tune), this mid-tempo rocker served as a wonderful showcase for Patterson's whispery vocals (which reminded me a bit of an American version of Donovan) and first rate lead guitar.   Icing on the cake, you even got a short cheesy synthesizer solo.   rating: **** stars
2.) November   (Don L. Patterson) - 2:35

'November' was one of the tunes where I could kind of understand the Jim Morrison/Doors comparisons.  Musically the resemblance was vague, but Patterson's gravelly vocal and hysterically pretentious lyrics actually did sound a bit like the late Morrison.   Docked a star since Morrison's always irritated me.   rating: *** stars
3.) You Maybe Religious   (Don L. Patterson) - 2:15

Set over a howling, fuzz guitar powered melody, 'You Maybe Religious' was interesting for Patterson's punkish vocal delivery - he didn't so much sing this one as shout the lyrics out.  This one should wake you up, though the 'welcome to hell' ending might make you giggle.  rating: *** stars
4.) Nightly Drift   (Don L. Patterson) - 6:00

Another track where Patterson's clipped delivery and floral lyrics recalled Morrison.  Probably the album's prettiest melody, the song also boasted some of Patterson's best guitar work.  The backwards tape segment wasn't really necessary.    rating: **** stars

5.) Without You

As mentioned, the original release featured nine tunes, while the bootleg included four bonus tunes; none which were actually One St. Stephen compositions. Recorded by The Front Page Review, 'Without You' was a pretty, '60s tinged acoustic ballad that really didn't sound much like the earlier tunes, making you wonder how closely the compilers were paying attention to their work.  For consistency, I won't rate any of the four bonus tracks.

6.) In You Mind  

'In Your Mind' was an up-tempo, mildly lysergic-tinged number that again didn't sound anything like Patterson's work.   Enjoyable enough performance with a cool, driving. '60s beat and lots of jangle guitar work.  Shame it faded out just as it was beginning to jam.

 

(side 2)
1.) Old Man   (Don L. Patterson) -2:08

With the flute introduction, I can remember wondering if I'd slapped on a Jethro Tull tune by mistake.  The funny thing is this English folk-rock flavored tune was actually one of the album's highlights.  Amazingly catchy tune and the flute solos are good too boot.  rating: **** stars
2.) Junkie's Lament   (Don L. Patterson) - 2:03

Well, with his ravaged vocal delivery, 'Junkie's Lament' literally did sound like a strung out addict wailing away on his last couple of breaths.   Iggy Pop on steroids ?   Seriously disturbing tune.   rating: **** stars
3.) Twelfth St. Shuffle   (Don L. Patterson - Bill Blechschmid) -3:30

The album's most conventional rocker ?   Nice wah wah guitar throughout and I've always loved Patterson's breathless delivery on this one.   rating: **** stars
4.) Richer You Get   (Don L. Patterson) - 4:00

If you've ever heard the late Root Boy Slim, 'Richer You Get' is liable to strike a chord of familiarity.   Like Root's best material, the song was simultaneously tuneful (loved the horn arrangement) and funny as all.   Another album highlight.   rating: **** stars
5.) Dash In the Rocks   (Don L. Patterson) - 4:36

I'm a sucker for sleazy '70s synthesizers which means 'Dash In the Rocks' won me over from the opening.   Patterson shows he can churn out pop as easily as proto-punk, psych, or rock tunes.   Probably my pick for the album's best tune.  rating: **** stars
6.) Silver Children

Unlike the other three bonus tracks, 'Silver Children' can be tracked back to the band  Front Page Review.  This one was a pretty, harpsichord powered ballad with great, acid-tinged vocals and a wonderful fuzz guitar solo.  Real charmer that makes me anxious to check out the rest of The Front Page Review catalog.

7.) Valley of Eyes

The final bonus track and another Front Page Review performance, 'Valley of Eyes' was an attractive, fuzz-powered heavy rocker.  Only complaint with this one was that it was simply too short.


In the ensuing years the album's become a high priced collectible, explaining why it's been bootlegged several times.  Hey, at least my copy's affordable !!!

 

Got this email related to the group:

Hello I don't know if you are interested but I played flute, piano, and blues harp (if there was any harp) on the One St. Stephen album way back then. A couple misprints on the website: The studio where we recorded (most of us are from the Columbus OH area) was Owl Studios in Columbus Ohio (not Cincinnati). It was located on Sunbury Rd. I believe the actual pressing of the album was done in Cincinnati. Charles Beak is misspelled. It should be "Bleak" (pronounced Blake). I'm still playing in a blue-jazz trio (or 4 piece) with some excellent musicians. Charles Bleak is also actively playing and writing some really good music. Thanks for keeping up the One St. Stephen site. Although the studio work was done over a very short period of time (just a day or 2 for me as I recall), I still like much of what was done. 

Terry Finneran (January 2015)


 

 


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