Well further gifts abound, as this 1976 concert on Galactic Zoo Disk/Drag City will attest. Clearly, the explorations of Sandy Bull were not lost on the far-out audiences of the Bay Area, and though the heady days of the '60s have gone, the Berkeley heads are still in full force, hanging on Sandy's every note with a clearly expressed delight as they wait for headliner Leo Kottke to take the stage. Even though there were no further albums after 1972's Demolition Derby (a candidate for unhinged, bottom-of- the-barrel brilliance), we can now hear that Sandy had expanded his sound even further than we could have imagined in the lost post-Vanguard silence. Rocking the then-pretty-new rhythm ace drum machine and utilizing pre-recorded tracks of bass and fuzz guitar (simulating how he'd do mad overdubs in the studio really) and adding some pedal steel at one point, Sandy conjures whole new inflections over his classic sound. Of course, the performance is book-ended by classic electric loud workouts in pure, golden Sandy Bull form. There's some pretty hilarious stage banter as well, with Sandy leading the audience through the wonders of his beat-box (and almost getting lost exploring the settings!) and then introducing the song 'Alligator Wrestler' by discussing childhood memories from Florida recalled while witnessing serial masturbation during his recent stint in drug rehab. Too much! Sandy runs through his entire instrumental palette while performing a set of songs that never made it to vinyl (but recall some of his classic themes). The show is captured warmly on the tapes (recorded by veteran music biz man Hillel Resner, who also supplies fantastic notes that take us back to his 1976 frames of reference); a vital performance and a rare glimpse into the previously-unheard 1970s progressions of Sandy's music. It's like being there yourself (albeit with a few between-song edits in your tape/memory) and we are damn grateful for the experience! If you are even a casual fan of guitar music or artists like John Fahey, Jack Rose or Robbie Basho, you owe it to yourself to delve into Sandy Bull & the Rhythm Ace, Live 1976.
Recorded Live at the Berkeley Community Theatre, May 2, 1976.
Special thanks to Candy Bull and Cassandra Bull.