An unburied treasure An album by talented Kiwi musician Doug Jerebine has finally been released - 43 years after he made it, writes Scott Kara.
In London in 1969, New Zealand guitarist Doug Jerebine, whose scorching psychedelic blues rock-style recalled the mighty Jimi Hendrix, recorded some songs in the hope of breaking into the big time.
Mind you, you get the feeling, that, even back then, the ever- humble Jerebine couldn't have cared less. He was encouraged to write and record songs like explosive psyche rocker Midnight Sun and bouncy blues-rock bopper Good News Blues, by his musical mate Dave Hartstone, who also gave Jerebine his rock 'n' roll alias - Jesse Harper.
But these songs never saw the light of day back then. One of the main reasons they were never re leased was because Jerebine became disillusioned with the music busi ness - and he was more interested in exploring Indian music and spiritu ality than playing rock 'n' roll.
As Jerebine told TimeOut in an interview in 2009: "Dave [Hartstone] wanted to make me into a rock star. I was daunted by that. I didn't like the idea ... I was searching for some thing higher."
In 1973 he left London for India where he became a Krishna monk and stayed for the best part of 30 years. He returned to New Zealand and started playing live again in 2009.
Some of his 1969 songs were played by New Zealand psychedelic rock heroes Human Instinct in the early 70s, and bootleg copies were released as an album, without Jerebine's permission, by British label Kissing Spell in the mid-90s. But Doug Jerebine is Jesse Harper is the real deal, being released on vinyl and via download by Chicago record label Drag City (home to harp- playing folkie Joanna Newsom and prolific country folk musician Will Oldham).
It's only taken 43 years - and about time too because this is classic stuff. Yes, Jerebine's style, voice, and sound can be a dead ringer for Hendrix, who was one of his greatest influences. But what makes him unique, apart from his fearless and wild will to experiment, is the influence of everything from Indian raga to jazz, and there are even hints of a country twang (more correctly, "cowboy music" according to the album's excellent liner notes) on the thigh-slapping stomp of Fall Down. And Jerebine's guitar playing - and musicality in general - is a masterful mix of natural ability, conviction, and most importantly, unbridled soul.
There are two particularly wild songs at the start of each side of this record. Opener Midnight Sun is one, especially when it breaks out into a fuzzy, frenzied lather near the end, but it's Ain't So Hard to Do (also known as the Jug-a-Jug Song) on the flip side that will make you collapse on to your knees a la Hendrix and play that air guitar so hard it catches fire. Honestly, it will. The song is that good, in its own cool and swaggering way. Elsewhere there's Reddened Eyes, which starts out as sunny 60s pop-rock before intensifying into heavy rumbling blues, then the shimmying love song Thawed Ice and the ethereal beauty of Circles. Last track Idea (Keep Cool) is a sauntering primal stomp.
It may have been an eternity since these tunes were recorded, but they still sound fresh and potent. The fact is, they don't make much music like this any more.
Album: Doug Jerebine is Jesse Harper (Drag City)
Verdict: A long- lost Kiwi classic finally gets (officially) released, four decades on