THOMAS STONE – Born Again Stoned
Thomas Stone may have just released the surprise feel-good local CD of the summer. Chock full of flashbacks, Born Again Stoned includes an array of psychedelic pop and rock songs that effectively mix the Doors, Jefferson Airplane (read: not Starship), the Mamas and the Papas, and the Beatles. This is a toxic potion that will take you right back to the days of acid pop, just as the sixties were becoming revolutionary. Flighty melodies and the multiple male/female vocal blend harkens back to the days when rock ‘n’ roll bands were called vocal groups. The band doesn’t ask you to take them too seriously either, as they never get too heavy or preachy.
Tim Wedeward wrote most of the material here, at times with his wife and percussionist Robyn Davis. (Wedeward’s distant relative was Thomas Stone, a signer on the Declaration of Independence.) Second guitarist Jeff Marcus also pitches in, co-authoring and recording three of the album’s tracks. The best of these is “This Old Town,” which is reminiscent of Dream Academy‘s “Life in a Northern Town.” Recording was done in three sessions: in Marcus’ studio, with Randy Green at Randy Green’s Recording and at Sean Michael Dargan’s studio. Green’s recordings sparkle the most with punchy guitars and a pretty decent drum mix. All the songs flow seamlessly, however, and unless one were a pro, or reading the liner notes, the use of different studios would not be real apparent, save for Marcus’s tracks which reflect a few more home-recording characteristics. Lacking a full-fledged drumming member of the band, those chores are handled by Eric Drummer on Green’s tracks and Michael Brenneis on Dargan’s tracks. Dargan also adds some additional guitar and bass.
Wedeward’s guitar playing is full of fire and quite often his playing launches the songs from the mundane to attention-grabbing. He really lets ‘er rip on “Sleep Now,” an interesting mix of Robert Plant’s “Big Log” verses and a nearly Fifth Dimension chorus. Here Davis takes the lead vocals on a tale of love gone astray. She reprises the sentiment somewhat on “The Peggy Song,” a swinging and humorous take on a man-stealing best friend that is pure sixties pop. The best song is the opener, “Still,” that takes a hot, familiar blues lick and heaps on enough reverb to challenge a Ventures recording. Crank that one up, baby. “Just for a Moment” perfectly captures that spooky, folky sixties sound and will have you digging through the closet for your surrealistic pillow. Only the Beatles cover, “Tomorrow Never Knows,” sounds forced with an attempt to bridge the decades by adding scratching.
Just as current events of the day bring back images and feelings of turbulent times from decades ago, Born Again Stoned quite naturally transports the listener to a place that is as eerily reminiscent as it is relevant. This is a fun recording that might put the haze back into your hazy summer days.