Day Blindness

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1967-70

- Felix Bria -- vocals, bass, keyboards 
- Dave Mitchell -- vocals, drums 
- Gary Pihl -- vocals, guitar 


  line up 2 (1970

NEW - Roy Garcia -- vocals, drums (replaced Dave Mitchell)
- Gary Pihl -- vocals, guitar 

NEW- Johnny Vernazza -- guitar (replaced Felix Bria





- The Elvin Bishop Band

- Boston (Gary Pihl)

- Crossfire (Gary Pihl)

- The Fox





Genre: psych

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Day Blindness

Company: Studio 10 Records

Catalog: DBX 101

Year: 1969

Country/State: San Francisco, California

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring, edge and corner wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4

Price: $100.00

Cost: $66.00


In the wake of the commercial successes enjoyed by San Francisco-based bands such as Country Joe and the Fish, The Grateful Dead and The Jefferson Airplane, big and small record labels went into a corporate feeding frenzy, determined to find another act that could bolster their profit and loss statements. As you'd expect, the results of their search were mixed, with lots of marginal acts getting a brief shot at the spotlight. 

One of the bands that apparently benefited from that corporate talent search was Day Blindness.   Singer/keyboardist Felix Bria, drummer Dave Mitchell and guitarist Gary Pihl started out in 1967.  Within a year they'd made a minor name for themselves on the city's club circuit, where they became fairly regular performances at Bill Graham's Fillmore, the Avalon Ballroom, as well as a regular featured at free concerts at Golden Gate Park.  Along the way Mitchell was replaced by Roy Garcia, with Bria being replaced by Johnny Vernazza. 

Recorded at San Francisco's Studio 10 with Tom Preuss producing, 1969's "Day Blindness" seems to fall in the latter category. While I've seen it garner some fairly high sales prices on recent lists, musically their album isn't anything to get real excited about.  Recorded as a trio in the wake of Vernazza's departure (he reappeared as a member of the Elvin Bishop Band, followed by a stint with Norton Buffalo),  the remaining trio were certainly competent musicians, but none of their material was particularly original. Tracks such as 'Young Girl', 'Middle Class Lament' and 'I Got No Money' offered up a fairly standard mix of pedestrian electric blues, harder rock numbers and modest psych moves. That lack of originality, coupled with the absence of a strong or distinctive singer didn't exactly help the proceedings. If you had to pick a couple of highlights, go with the bouncy 'Live Deep' (which also sported a nice Pihl solo) and the weird, 12 minute plus Doors-influenced 'Holy Land'. 

"Day Blindness" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Still Life Girl - 6:22
2.) Jazz Song - 2:18
3.) Middle Class Lament - 3:38
4.) I Got No Money - 4:28
5.) House and a Dog - 1:58

(side 2)

1.) Live Deep - 2:45
2.) Young Girl Blues - 4:20
3.) Holy Land - 12:30

The band subsequently morphing into The Fox. Pihil reappeared as a member of Crossfire (with future producer Mitchell Froom) and in the mid-1970s became a member of one of Sammy Hagar's bands.  In 1985 he joined Boston.




A typical description of Day Blindness involves references to the theoretically similar but inherently antithetical West Coast bands the Doors and Iron Butterfly, and it does in fact play something like a cross between those two groups, though with none of the musical nuance and aesthetic vision -- and none of the existential considerations -- of the former and with all the unrelenting bombast and sonic pretension of the latter. What it does have in common with the Doors is its organ-heavy, acid-touched moodiness and its dense blues underpinning, though it is unable to do anything significantly innovative with either element. And like Iron Butterfly, Day Blindness draped their music in a sometimes smothering, cerebrum-numbing blanket of quasi-metal guitar. The band, indeed, took their hard rock very seriously, and that leads to a good number of earnestly overblown moments. It also causes the nearly 40 minutes of music to drag as a whole and to dull one's appreciation for their more enticing aspects. And such aspects, though few, do indeed exist here. "I Got No Money" and "House and a Dog" aren't songs so much as chances to jam on blues changes, but each has some commanding moments. And the 12-minute "Holy Land" is less atmospheric or disorienting than "The End" (seemingly its model), but it has some worth nonetheless, though in a vaguely ham-handed way. This band must have undoubtedly provoked some gut-thumping excitement for their live audience, blasting from ballrooms with an accompanying swirl of smoke and a kinetic surreality. The fact that it has been bootlegged attests to the fascination it still elicits. The album has not, unfortunately, worn particularly well (though considerably better than "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida"). Still, it provides an interesting glimpse into the heavier, more straight-ahead side of San Francisco acid rock.


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