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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 34, Number 13. Somewhere-in-July. 1971



A few years back, when the jug band scene was popular, Jim Kweskin's group, the most successful contemporary jug band, released their Garden of Joy LP. By the time this was released here the N.Z. jug scene was crumbling and rapidly losing its musical credibility, what with Hogsnout Rhubarb defining the music, the folkies' Philistinism regarding The Windy City Strugglers, and plastic kazoos at Begg's for 30c. So a lot of unlucky people missed out on hearing Kweskin's freaky new fiddler, Richard Greene. Kweskin's band broke up and Richard Greene, with the banjo player Bill Keith, joined Blue Velvet Band. They released an LP (available in NZ) featuring Hank Williams numbers. At the time of recording with Blue Velvet Band, Greene was well into electric violin with a group called Seatrain.

Seatrain was recorded in London, produced by George Martin, and the sound is country head-rock. The LP is characterised by outstanding and unique violin work. Greene's double-stopping techniques and feel for the country idiom are unsurpassed by other rock violinists. His chording on viola fills the group's sound and complements the funky piano. Bass and drums should have been recorded with a little more presence to give a heavier rhythm section.

Wah-wah violin opens I'm Willin the only words of which I could catch being

I've smuggled smoke from Mexico

Song of Job is a strange biblical ballad relieved only by Job's occasional yodels and Satan's freaky fiddling. Broken Morning has a good violin break which more than compensates for the too 'bubble-gum'-type backing vocals. Home to You is a powerful number but not performed as well as it could be, mainly due to vocals. Seatrain often seems to be singing beyond the capabilities of the vocalists. Out Where the Hill features some incredible electric violin effects but lacks melodic continuity. It starts very much like a Blood, Sweat and Tears song and is broken into several sections. The sections merit more as effects than as melodic counterparts. The vocals in 13 Questions have a vaguely show tune sound (like Hair). Oh My Love invokes memories of Buddy Holly then slides into an honest grassroot version of Sally Good in an old country fiddle tune. Crepin Midnight is a sloppy, syruppy country-spiritual of the type Howard Morrison mutilates very meaningfully. OBS takes Orange Blossom Special to its logical conclusion with a very freaky electronic ending. Ervin Rouse (not House as credited) would be amazed.

Graeme Nesbitt