Tag Archives: Copper Records

Let’s Kickstart Kontiki!

The Holy Grail just came into view again.

Back in 1997, Robert Harrison, Whit Williams, George Reiff and Dana Myzer crafted Kontiki, possibly this generation’s Big Star album. You know…the one that didn’t sell well upon release but is revered by everyone who was lucky enough to grab it; a generation later everyone will claim to have owned a copy, only to lose it to an ex-wife or a klepto roomie.

Liars!

But now they don’t have to be. Harrison, on behalf of his band Cotton Mather, has just popped for a moderate goal on Kickstarter. He’s looking to raise $12,500 to create and market a deluxe two-disc edition, featuring a remastered original and a full disc of outtakes sure to thrill fans of the band. A diverse and rich blend of powerpop, rock and psych, Kontiki has often been compared to Beatle albums, usually Revolver, thanks to the uncanny vocal resemblance to John Lennon. But this is a deep, rich, original work that has only grown stronger in time. (You know…like Revolver?)

Video: “Password

Here’s Robert, from the project’s banner page:

 In 1997 my  band Cotton Mather recorded our second record, Kontiki,  on 4 track cassette and ADAT in an old house about 30 minutes outside of Austin. It was released in the US without much fanfare on a little label called Copper.  But when the record made its way to the UK a year later on the Rainbow Quartz label Kontiki was quite the hit with the press and music fans. 

Now Kontiki, the “lost classic” has been out of print for years.  I (Robert Harrison) have been busy readying a re-release of Kontiki which will include an entire second disc of bonus tracks. Not just a few out-takes but an entire discs worth of extras because when I dug back into the archives I found some real treasure… I do think there is something undeniably magical about Kontiki. It was a special moment in time we landed on back there. All of us from Cotton Mather would love more people to hear it. So let’s get Kontiki in the hands of the people and help Cotton Mather at long last shed the mantle of rock cult obscurity. 

The money we raise will pay for mixing an 11 track bonus CD (the first one will remain as it was), mastering, new artwork with extensive liner notes about the making of Kontiki and the history of Cotton Mather, manufacturing, publicity and if we go past the target a good ways- a vinyl pressing. Then of course if somebody goes for the grand prize….. look out!

Video: “She’s Only Cool

I know that anyone who has heard “My Before And After“, “She’s Only Cool“, “Vegetable Row“, “Password” and “Spin My Wheels” likely had their mind blown much like I did. Hell, even Oasis knew enough to pluck these guys out of Austin, Texas and get them onto stages in England. Musically, vocally, sonically…Kontiki is a first-rate classic.

I was resigned to the fact that I had their small but vital output to savor, but the thought of more Cotton Mather to enjoy has me jumping for joy. (Not literally…the needle will jump. But damned close!) So while you continue to enjoy the work of this group in their next bands (Future Clouds and Radar, Stockton, Farrah) let’s do the right thing for Cotton Mather, shall we?

Sign up for this project on Kickstarter. (The video is hilarious!)

Listen to clips on Amazon.

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Blast From The Past: Dwight Twilley

Dwight Twilley fans are no doubt salivating over the recent avalanche of rarities, live cuts and demos that Dwight has decided to release to the market. Priced reasonably on tactile media and even cheaper via digital download, it’s a clear reminder of why Twilley (with and without partner Phil Seymour) holds a special place in pop history. Sincerely still ranks among the best pop debut albums of the rock era, a breath of fresh air with timeless songs, heartfelt vocals and engaging musicianship. Hard to believe that the Twilley/Seymour “band” lasted only two albums, although both recorded more classic pop on their own.

This wealth of material reminds me the excitement I felt ten years ago, when both a Twilley collection and a new Twilley album dropped virtually at the same time. Sure, there was always the occasional bootleg to savor, but now there was authorized product that we hoped would reinvigorate his career and bring the accolades he deserved. But neither Tulsa nor Between The Cracks broke out, and ten years later I still have the same wish for him.

At least I got my other wish – that open vault I pined for.

Here’s my original take from 1999 on Between The Cracks, Volume 1:

between cracks

A collection of fifteen unreleased tracks from across Twilley’s career, Between The Cracks is a godsend to fans (along with Tulsa, a brand new release on Copper Records). From his mercurial beginnings with partner Phil Seymour through the frustrations of trying to succeed against tides of indifference and just plain bad luck, Twilley’s history is spotted with brilliant work that is criminally underappreciated. Thanks to releases like these, Twilley might enjoy another well-deserved shot at the brass ring.

“Black Eyes,” the leadoff track, could well have fit on any of his releases, especially the first two. With trademark quavering vocals and the always-stellar Bill Pitcock IV on guitar, this sounds like the perfect follow-up to “I’m On Fire,” although it was recorded years later. Susan Cowsill’s harmony vocals graced many Twilley tracks at the time and she sounds almost as good as Phil Seymour. Similarly, “No Place Like Home,” recorded in 1990, could and should have been radio smash.

Some of the early tracks like “Living In The City” and “Too Young For Love” have that same primal pulse that many tracks on Sincerely do, and “Round And Around” is a stark, Lennon-esque balled (played on an out-of-tune piano) with a great vocal from Dwight. Despite the cloudy production (or perhaps the horrible shape some of these tapes might have been in) they are fascinating glimpses into Twilley’s early era. And if songs like “Why You Wanna Break My Heart” are more your speed, “Reach For The Sky” and the amazing “Oh Carrie” (maybe the best song on this set) will give you the two follow-up hit singles that never happened.

The whole package is first rate – Kent Benjamin’s heartfelt liner notes are excellent and Dwight contributes song-by-song comments that are informative and witty. As much as I look forward to his revived career and new material, I also hope Twilley continues to mine the vault to share his past with us. Oh, what might have been…

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