Thursday, October 2, 2014
My introduction to Plan 9 came one afternoon in 1984 when I showed up at my guitarist's house to load our gear into the car for a show that evening. When I went into the kitchen there was this bear of a man sitting at the table. He had hair halfway down his back and a full beard, looking totally badass. I thought for a minute that our manager might have borrowed money from a loan shark to pay our studio time and this giant biker was here to collect. My fears were assuged as he introduced himself as Eric Stumpo from Plan 9 and handed me a copy of the album Dealing With The Dead. He told us that he really like our single and while driving through NJ he saw the exit for our town on the Garden State Parkway and decided to look us up. Little did I know that day would mark the beginning of a 25 year plus run where Plan 9 would become one of my all-time favorite bands and stay in heavy rotation on my turntable.
Plan 9 is a psychedelic commune from Rhode Island. During their heyday in the 1980's they toured extensively as an eight or nine piece band with anywhere between 3 and 5 guitars. They are led by guitar guru Eric Stumpo, a man with a Roky Erickson snarl whose encyclopedic knowledge of 60's garage/punk/psychedelia is legendary. With a 15 album discography, Plan 9 has been following their collective muse since 1979, when they first burst onto the east coast's paisley underground.
I would say that there are three characteristics to Plan 9's music. The first is an almost scholarly approach to the Pebbles/Nuggets era of American garage/punk/psychedelic music. Eric Stumpo and Debora DeMarco approach that music with the same reverence American and British artists like Eric Clapton approached the music of the Mississippi Delta. Not only do they know the complete history of bands most of us have never heard of, but they expand upon that music the same way Clapton and Page expanded upon the music of Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and Son House. The second characteristic of Plan 9 is the layering of anywhere between three and five guitars and the interweaving of Deborah DeMarco's swirling organ lines. The band solos as an ensemble and the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. Guitar solos are not intended to draw attention to the virtuousity of the player, but the the overall trancelike groove that brings the listeners mind to the outter limits of psychedelia. The third characteristic is the solid, energetic bottom groove provided by bassist John Florence. John was barely taller than the Fender bass slung across his hips and, legend has it, was still in high school during the early years of the band. But John Florence was definately one of the best bass players of the entire 1980's US indie rock underground. While most fans of Plan 9 give props to Eric's guitar and Debora's organ playing, John Florence is the person who held down the rhythm section as the band went through a number of different drummers.
During the early to mid-1980's there was a thriving psychedelic scene in the northeastern United States. Boston gave us The Prime Movers and The Lyres. New York was home to bands like The Fleshtones, The Fuzztones and The Vipers. The manicured suburbs of New Jersey spawned The Smithereens, The Db's and Mod Fun. Most of the psychedelic bands of the northeast combined the punk ethos with pop sensibilities. The songs were raw, catchy and rarely broke the three minute mark. Stylisticly the bands were clean shaven, had medium length hair and dressed like they were part of the swinging London of Austin Powers' heyday. Plan 9 was different. They were hippies who waved their freak flags proudly. They were one of the few bands in that scene where the males sported super long hair and beards. Live, it wasn't unusual for their extended jams to pass the ten minute mark. This was super radical in the early to mid-eighties and the complete opposite of what most bands were doing to gain "indie cred." Plan 9 was heavy and trancelike. At their best their jams sounded like a cross between "In a Gadda DaVida" and Ted Nugent's "Stranglehold." The band recorded most of their records at Wallingford, Connecticut's legendary Trod Nossel studios, the studio where much of the Connecticut and Rhode Island garage/punk/psychedelic underground of the 1960's cut their records.(By RevMatt - http://www.threedimesdown.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=340)
A1- Try To Run (2:54)
A2- It's One Thing To Say (3:24)
A3- Flashback (2:48)
A4- Echoing Sunshine (3:30)
A5- 5 Years Ahead Of My Time (7:47)
B1- Where Is Love (2:30)
B2- Hideaway (4:50)
B3- You Don't Want Me (2:30)
B4- Green Animals (4:10)
B5- Lookin' At You (8:52)
Guitar, Vocals – Eric Stumpo
Guitar – Evan Williams , John De Vault, Tom Champlin
Guitar, Percussion – Michael Ripa
Keyboards, Organ – Deborah De Marco
Bass – John Florence
Drums – Michael Meehan
Producer, Arranged By – Plan 9
Engineer – Richard P. Robinson