Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

J.D. Blackfoot
The Ultimate Prophecy

Released 1970 on Mercury
Reviewed by volehead, 03/12/2001ce

I had never heard of this band or record until I bought it from a particularly insistent stallholder at a fair in New York this summer, and it has proved to be worth every cent of the $40 we agreed on.

J.D. Blackfoot is both the name of the singer and the band. They / he were from Ohio and won a contract in a 'battle of the bands', I believe- although it is hard to believe that there was much of a battle left to fight once these boys took the stage. Think what Henry VII would have made of Bosworth if he had a nuclear missile to play with and you'll get some idea of how much better than practically anything else of its sort this album is. Prior to its release there was a 45 (in 1969), also on Mercury, called Who's Nuts Alfred / Epitaph for a Head, which isn't on the album (and which I'd love to hear if anyone has it).

What I like about this lp so much is that it contains the sound of a real BAND- consistently sparky interplay and inteligent flourishes from each musician, all within a storming selection of songs that they have clearly rehearsed thousands of times, without getting tired of.

I forgot to mention the heavy part- this is easily one of the heaviest psychedelic records I've ever heard, filled with absolutely berserk drumming and riffing and completely inscrutable lyrics wailed very tunefully by J.D. What lifts this out of the heavy rock/psych quagmire is the sensitive and very nimble playing by all on display throughout. The musicianship is excellent and each song is distinguished. The first side consists of five very memorable songs, two of which are pretty, psychedelic ballads and the remainder of which absolutely roar- in particular the mysterious 'Good Day Extending Company'. Side 2 consists of a 20-minute psychedelic opus in several linked sections, called The Ultimate Prophecy, which has to be heard to be believed. Absolutely skull-splitting drumming and scimitar-sharp guitar are present and correct throughout, and despite the absurdly pompous lyrics, this stands as one of the best 'sides' I know.

This album proves to me something I should have realised before: that psychedelia is a genre in which there is always something new and amazing to listen to. In a month or so, I have gone from complete ignorance of this album to absolute ecstasy over it.

NOTES: the lp was issued by Mercury in the UK with a different cover, but those copies are extremely rare. A nice US one is about $100, and should have an insert with it. J.D. Blackfoot moved to New Zealand in the 70s and has made 2 or 3 further lps, which are also well-regarded, if not in the same category as this. The Ultimate Prophecy came out on a private, limited cd issued by the man himself a year or two ago, and you can pick it up on ebay every now and then.

Finally, if you want to hear this, or any of the other lps I'll be reviewing, don't hesitate to ask me to burn off a cd of it for you. Music this good HAS to be shared!

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