Tuesday, June 12, 2007


The Tripsichord Music Box was one of the many San Francisco bands managed and produced by self-styled psychedelic svengali Matthew Katz — despite a slim body of recorded work that stands among the most atmospheric and cosmic to emerge from the Bay Area scene in the post-Summer of Love era, they are sadly best-known as one of the so-called "fake Grape" units unleashed on unsuspecting audiences after Katz lost control of his former protégés, the legendary Moby Grape. Originally dubbed the Ban, Tripsichord Music Box formed in Lompoc, California in 1963 — the group was founded by singer/guitarist Tony McGuire, bassist Frank Straight, keyboardist Oliver McKinney, and drummer Randy Guzman (sometimes credited as Randy Gordon to avoid conflict due to his parents' management of the act). According to the book Acid, Fuzz & Flowers, the Ban signed to the Brent label to release their lone single, the garage rock stomper "Bye-Bye," splitting soon after when McGuire was drafted to serve in Vietnam; the remaining threesome then recruited singer/bassist David Zandonatti, with Straight moving to lead guitar. Rechristening themselves the Now, they relocated to Los Angeles, sharing Sunset Strip stages with local acts including the Seeds and the Strawberry Alarm Clock before signing to Milton Berle's Embassy label for the 1967 effort "I Want." The single attracted little attention, however, and the Now relocated to San Francisco. There they connected with Katz, who essentially discovered Jefferson Airplane along with Moby Grape — Katz soon signed the band to his San Francisco Sound label, rechristening them the Tripsichord Music Box. In late 1967 the group recorded three tracks — "You're the Woman," "It's No Good" and "The Family Song" — later included on the Fifth Pipedream: The San Francisco Sound, Vol. 1 compilation. When Moby Grape severed ties to Katz, he laid claim to their name, forcing Tripsichord Music Box to play a series of live dates under the Moby Grape aegis — the deception ultimately prompted McKinney to quit the band in 1969, with guitarist Bill Carr signing on in his place. Around this same time, Zandonatti's high school friend Ron McNeeley also began sitting in on vocals, and after a 1969 single, "Times and Seasons," Tripsichord dropped the "Music Box" from their name in time to cut their sole full-length, a self-titled cult classic issued in 1970. Their dark yet ethereal music found few takers, however, and the band relocated to Utah, splitting when Zandonatti and McNeely joined the Sons of Mosiah, a Mormon musical troupe managed by future U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch. Ironically, Guzman later played drums in a legitimate incarnation of Moby Grape.

1 On the Last Ride 4:42
2 We Have Passed Away 2:45
3 Black Door 2:55
4 The New Word i 4:40
5 Son of the Morning 5:34
6 Short Order Steward 5:04
7 The Narrow Gate i 3:35
8 Fly Baby r 6:26
9 Everlasting Joy 4:19
10 You're the Woman / It's Not Good 6:45
11 Family Song 8:26
12 Times and Seasons 3:23
13 Sunday the Third 3:18


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Anonymous said...

Thanks for making this available. I've been wanting to hear it since I read the recommendation on the Lysergia site.

Otiselevator said...

Thanks for this and all your other superb posts!

Otiselevator said...

Great record, a real discovery, thank you!