Strange Haze

Blinderman & Freeman

Strange Haze
Performed By Blinderman & Freeman
Album UPC 888295183529
CD Baby Track ID TR0001003468
Label Robar Records
Released 2014-12-08
BPM 98
Rated 0
ISRC QM9AA1452715
Year 2014
Spotify Plays 5
Writers
Writer Barry Blinderman
Pub Co Barry Blinderman
Composer Barry Blinderman
Clearance Sync & All Media Uses
Rights Controlled Master and Publishing Grant
Rights One-Stop: Master + 100% Pub Grant
Original/Cover/Public Domain original
Country United States - United States

Description

Two veterans of 60s psych-rock reunite to create new arrangements of their songs from that wondrous era. Driven by penetrating vocals, searing keyboards, and soulful guitars, this duo's irrepressible melodies and lyrics bespeak innocence and experience.

Notes

In an increasingly disposable world, Rob Freeman and Barry Blinderman have maintained their close friendship for over four decades. Their love of music brought them together as teens in the Lehigh Valley of eastern Pennsylvania. Barry had gotten his first guitar not long after seeing the Beatles perform on Ed Sullivan and was singing and playing in a folk duo, while Rob, a self-taught accordionist and pianist, already had his own sound-on-sound recording rig with original songs in the can. This album’s title, also the name of its closing tune, alludes to their frequent practice of staying up all night—whether at the end of a deserted country road or in the den of Rob’s split-level house—strumming songs, playing four-handed piano, and waxing philosophical. In their junior year of high school, they formed a band, Bleu Grass—recently described in Rocktober Magazine as a “Jewish garage psyche teen band.” Using the prize money they won in a local battle-of-the-bands competition, they recorded their first (and only) single, “What I Know” b/w “Strange Haze.” In the summer of ’69, the two friends attended Woodstock together and reveled in the sounds of The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Mountain, Janis Joplin, and so many others.

The next year, hitchhiking back and forth between Syracuse University (Barry) and Penn State (Rob), they laid down their first tracks as a duo, including “Are We Lost?,” rerecorded for this collection. In the mid 1970s, while Rob was in New York engineering records for such luminaries as The Ramones, Richard Hell, and Blondie, and Barry was pursuing his M.A. in Art History at University of Pennsylvania, Rob would bring Barry into Plaza Sound Studio in Radio City after hours to record newly composed songs. Although they never recorded together again between that time and the beginnings of what would become Music for the Sunrise, they’ve maintained a musical dialog over the years via email, Soundcloud, and CDs sent by snail mail.

After many years as a successful record producer/engineer in New York, Rob moved to Miami in 1989, refocusing his sound production skills toward recording sound for feature films, television shows, commercials, and documentaries. Barry ran contemporary art galleries in New York’s Soho and East Village from 1980-1987 and then moved to Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, where he is Director of University Galleries of Illinois State University. Over the past few decades he has organized the first U.S. museum exhibitions for Keith Haring, Michelle Grabner, Martin Wong, David Wojnarowicz, and other prominent artists.

The yearlong recording fest that culminated in Music for the Sunrise was prompted by a spring 2013 feature on Bleu Grass in Ugly Things issue #35 written by Zak Boerger, who contributed electric guitar tracks to this album. The unexpected attention this story received online led the five former band members to discuss a possible reunion concert in Allentown, PA, scheduled to occur in the fall of that year. Unfortunately, that reunion never took place, but as part of the process of compiling a set list of songs Bleu Grass had performed “back in the day,” Barry sent Rob a quickly recorded demo of “Fly Bird,” the second song he ever wrote, with voice, guitar, and organ so Rob could relearn it. Rob responded just as swiftly with a lilting keyboard part that gave the plaintive tune its wings. They liked the new mold for the old song and began swapping more sound files via Dropbox from Florida to Illinois and back again to recreate a second Bleu Grass song, Rob’s incantatory “All Around Me.” Next came Barry’s “Can You Read Lips?”whose title was inspired by a line of graffiti spotted on a Philly underpass and which was first recorded in 1979 by his power-punk trio, Ice Nine.

With momentum building, they committed to the creation of a full album. Rob suggested they create redux versions of both sides of the 1968 Bleu Grass single, adding an accordion part to the new version of “What I Know” as a nostalgic nod to his earliest days as a musician. Rob was also working on a new arrangement of his haunting “Are We Lost?” based on a harrowing series of events the two weathered at the 1971 May Day antiwar rally in Washington. Then followed “Autumn Song (Comin’ Home),” a hopeful song of love and foliage Rob composed in his head while zooming across Interstate 80; “It’s Not in Me,” the album’s ballad, Barry’s disillusioned account of the end of an affair; and Rob’s “Music for the Sunrise,” originally entitled “I Have a Friend,” an ode to special places, times, and thoughts shared by a pair of soul-searching youths. [“Yes, we could have told them all what there was to living, if there was anything at all.”] The last song they undertook was Barry’s “Tell Me Another Story,” an upbeat number stacked with poker-room references that was originally recorded on a 4-track reel-to-reel in Rob’s 4th floor Manhattan walkup in 1976. The new version closes with a melodica line played note-for-note per the original on the actual instrument used years before.

Lest the listener assume that Blinderman & Freeman have no newer songs to record, in fact, over the years the two have penned over two hundred songs between them, many recorded as solo projects, some covered by other artists or placed in movie soundtracks. The decision to limit this collaboration to their nascent songwriting years from 1968-79 was based on a mutual desire to bring to fruition words and melodies from a turbulent and exhilarating era that might have otherwise been lost.

____________________

Produced and arranged by Rob Freeman
Recorded June 2013-August 2014
Recorded by Rob Freeman at Titlewave Productions, Hollywood, Florida
and by Barry Blinderman at Normal Sound Studios, Bloomington, Illinois
Mixed by Rob Freeman
Mastered by Zach Ziskin
Post mastering curve by Michael “Mac” McNamee
Photography by Caitlin Cox
Cover artwork: Vacation from the Self, 1986, by Walter Robinson
Album package designed by Rob Freeman

Barry Blinderman: lead vocals, vocal harmonies, electric bass, electric guitar, acoustic guitars, harmonica, organ
Rob Freeman: vocals, background vocals, drums and percussion, keyboards, key-bass, key-guitars, key-strings, melodica, mellotron, accordion
Joe Cady: electric guitars
Zak Boerger: electric guitars
Zach Ziskin: electric and acoustic guitars, ebow
Tommy O'Donnell: electric guitars
Mickey Freeman: acoustic guitar
John Hollis: saxophone
John Fretz: sampled bass slides
Gregg Smith: sampled guitar slide

Although created digitally, this album's sound is distinguished by the classic analog recording sensibilities of producer Rob Freeman, whose work in the 70s and 80s with such luminaries as Blondie, Ramones, Go-Go's, and Kiss earned him many gold and platinum album awards.

Tambourine presence on each song was highly encouraged.
Best when listened to in stereophonic headphones.

____________________

"Blinderman & Freeman have put their own modern spin on one of the most fertile periods of musical experimentation."
— Jeff Southworth (Hall & Oates guitarist)

"MUSIC FOR THE SUNRISE may have been forty years in the making, but it only takes a few moments to get hooked. A lifetime of experience has been transformed into catchy sounds that will have you entranced."
— Denny Somach, Grammy award recipient and author of the book "Ticket to Ride."

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