Says Merrell about Ed Cassidy, “We started on the first one I think in 1994 and he and I were friends for years. We met back in 1969 in passing back stage at a concert but never really had a conversation. Then we bumped into each other again around 1990 and the band Spirit was kind of in a lull then, and he said, “Hey we ought to do some recording together.” At the time I was doing a national satellite TV show called California Music and so I had him on that show and then Randy said, 'Oh I'd like to be on that show', so I interviewed Randy and then I ended up jamming with them all. And then Cass decided he wanted to move further out of the Los Angeles area and he moved up here to the central coast, and I helped find him a house not even a mile from my house, so it was perfect and he wanted to do something blues oriented. So I started writing a bunch of tunes and then we did some classic covers of songs like 'High Heel Sneakers' and the Muddy Waters song 'Going Down To Louisiana' and 'Walking The Dog', and then I wrote a bunch of songs that were in a similar vein that was perfect for me to play slide on. I loved it.
I think in about four-and-a-half/five months we cranked out the first album, 'On the Blue Road' and my son Tim was singing and playing on a few tunes and we had a regular bass player Leroy Richards at the time who did all of the bass. So we finished that first album and I sent it to Alligator Records in Chicago and they loved it, but they were full up with releases and I made a deal with D-Town Records from Detroit at the time, and they put out groups like the Ohio Players and Lee Rogers, and even one on the football player Rosey Greer. And they loved it and released the CD and and it started getting a lot of airplay all over the place, even in Australia. Then it was nominated for a Memphis Blues Award which surprised me. We didn't win but it was just great to do the nomination!”
In closing Merrell had this to say about Ed Cassidy, “Cass was my musical guru, to be able to play drums the way he did into his late '80s was amazing! I miss his drumming and also his wit and wisdom...we were close friends for nearly 25 years until his passing a year ago. I think this release is a fine tribute to him.”
Tracks: Disc 1-1. Further On Up The Road 2. 32/20 Blues 3. Bright Lights Big City 4. Excited (M. Fankhauser) 5. Walking The Dog 6. Louisana Blues 7. High Heel Sneakers 8. Tale Of Misty Mountain (M. Fankhauser) 9. Possession over Judgment Day 10. On The Blue Road (M.Fankhauser)11. Nickys Song (M.Fankhauser) 12. Psychedelic Dreams((M. Fankhauser) , , Disc 2- 1. Hot Night In Louisville (M.Fankhauser) 2. Milk Cow Blues 3. Who Shout The Lightnin (M.Fankhauser) 4.Goin Back To Delta(M. Fankhauser) 5.Stolen Guitar Blues (M.Fankhauser & E.Cassidy) 6. Brian Berry Blues (M.Fankhauser & E.Cassidy) 7. Cosmic Lady (M.Fankhauser & T. Fankhauser) 8. Voodoo In The Jungle (M.Fankhauser) 9. Cassidys Big Beat (E.Cassidy) 10. Long Rifle ( T. Fankhauser) 11. Papa Told Me (Larry Willey) 12.Ed Cassidy Interview.
Other recent releases by Merrell Fankhauser on Gonzo Multimedia:
Rainbow Bridge Revisited: 'Rainbow Bridge' was a peculiar 1972 film featuring Jimi Hendrix (who had died two years before) and a cast of local eccentrics using Hendrix’s music and a whole slew of UFO sightings to explore their spirituality. 41 years later, musician and filmmaker Merrell Fankhauser revisits the film to explore its message more fully. The 'Rainbow Bridge Revisited' documentary was really Maui journalist Steve Omar's idea, and Merrell and Steve produced it together. The two had fun looking up and interviewing the original cast of the 1972 Jimi Hendrix movie 'Rainbow Bridge' that was filmed on Maui. It was interesting to hear what they had to say about hanging out with Hendrix making the movie. The one-hour DVD documentary also features some great surfing and music by Merrell Fankhauser, The Space Patrol and Omar and The Wavespies. The package includes a 12-song soundtrack.
Area 51: Now for 2013 comes a new project – Area 51. This is a collection of exquisitely produced and finely played instrumentals inspired by the UFO mythos. The title track, which features a fine video by yours truly, and which nearly got me arrested for filming outside GCHQ at Morwenstow in North Devon, is inspired by the legendary Area 51 in Nevada; a (not very) secret American military installation where – it is rumoured – alien artifacts and even bodies, including the craft and occupants from the 1947 Roswell, New Mexico incident are kept. One of the most amazing things about this collection of songs is that although it is an exercise in a genre which is popularly thought to have its heyday over half a century ago, it doesn’t sound dated, and is full of rich, vibrant and exciting music for the 21st Century and a new millennium. Merrell has done it again, and produced the latest exciting gem in a long and satisfying career full of them.
Return To MU: Return To Mu is a seven years in the making album featuring a cast of famous guest artists including with Jay Ferguson and Ed Cassidy of Spirit, Dean Torrence of Jan and Dean, John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Nicky Hopkins, John Cipolinna both of whom played for Quicksilver Messenger Service and many others. The album is considered a masterpiece amongst friend's critics and fans and was produced by award winning movie and record producer, William E. McEuen. Originally released in 2003 to many good reviews this album has had limited availability until now.
The Best of Merrell Fankhauser: The Best of Merrell Fankhauser is just that the best tracks selected from Merrell’s entire career and across a two CD set and more than thirty tracks you can track the progress of Merrell Fankhauser’s career. All the tracks have been selected personally by Merrell and the album covers the period from 1964 right through to the present and covers all the bands Merrell was involved with including his early band Merrell and The Exiles. Tracks include: Too Many Heartbreaks, She’s Gone, I’m Flyin’ Home, Goin’ South and also a number of previously unreleased tracks. Merrell Fankhauser has a long and varied career and also a proven sales track record and this double Best Of compilation will act as not only a primer for new fans but also a good cross section of tracks from his career for long term fans.
Recently, Merrell has mastered some unreleased songs from 1964 to 1967 from reel-to-reel tape. He visited the high desert area of Lancaster, CA and acquired the tapes from Glen MacArthur Jr, son of Glenn Records owner, Glenn MacArthur senior, who passed away in 1999. The tapes sat in storage for nearly 50 years! The recordings feature several pre-members of HMS Bounty, MU and Captain Beefheart playing on them. Also included are tracks from the instrumental surf group The Velvetones, who Merrell produced in 1965. Scheduled for release in 2014, 'The Lost Desert Tapes' featuring Merrell And The Exiles, Fapardokly and The Velvetones, will be a must for all fans of Merrell Fankhauser!
For more information: http://www.merrellfankhauser.com/
Progressive Rock & Progressive Metal - E-Zine