first ever reissue of this massively cool & hideously rare 1973 rural pennsylvania private press jewel, originally released on the legendary RPC custom label in an edition of only 25 copies. this one might slip right by you on first listen, but there is a subtle brilliance buried in these grooves that’s captured the hearts of the lucky few who’ve had the chance to spend some time with the album... and once you’ve connected, there’s no turning back... like the very best of the upper echelon 60s & 70s private press benchmarks, ‘backbone of the nation’ is a crystal clear snapshot glimpse into a precise time & place, a unique moment captured, a lost reality preserved... small town working class teen ethos expressed with raw precision. zero hippie hangover or arty posturing here... the sound is essentially split between the two dominate modes of polarized male youth psyche : alternating moody, dejected, love scorned melancholy folkrock with wasted, howling, proto-punk garage fuzz brain fry... all together it’s a totally sincere lost in time vibe, delivered with gobs of naive charm & executed with almost zero resources. the album was recorded and mixed direct to tape in just a few hours, without overdubs or even the option to mixdown. you can hear the clearly unprepared recording engineer frantically flipping switches & tweaking knobs in a state of near panic as these kids tear furiously through a rapid fire album worth of original songs, always teetering on the edge of total collapse, yet never quite imploding. while the end results are, to say he least, very crude, the band pulls together a distinct and wonderful sound. underpinned by ken turcic’s dry, low, rubbery bass lines and greg cheplick’s wildly raw & cool drumming (he’s only 15 at the time) dennis cheplick (greg’s older brother) and jack sarvis trade off vocal duties, guitars licks, and writing credit. rhythm guitars chug excitedly, acoustic 12-string adds a sweet, chiming, folky texture, and sarvis switches between a great, slightly surf-tinged ringing reverb tone and frenetic fuzz figures. what really sets this one apart from the crowd, though, is a surprising sophistication lurking deep within. there’s real depth and staying power to the song writing that sneaks up on you with repeated listens, combined with the sort of subtly clever vocal and guitar arrangements that imply a band maturity well beyond their amateur exterior. a grower if ever there was one... and totally essential if the sound of “rural”, “real people”, and “garage” all in the same sentence peaks your interest...
pressed on highest quality 180gm virgin vinyl. packaged in an exact reproduction heavy weight reverse tip-on cover, with exact repro label art, a heavy double sided insert with loads of vintage color photos and extensive liner notes, plus a bonus heavy vinyl 45rpm 7inch. the 45 contains two non-lp tracks featuring both cheplick brothers and recorded in nashville, tennessee just months after the ‘backbone’ sessions, and preserved only on a single copy acetate demo disc. while due to the original format the sound quality of the 45 is less then ideal, it’s an awesome pair of songs and a wonderful complement to the lp, clearly hinting at the brooding folkrock masterpiece these guys could have pulled off had drywater ever entered the studio again... one time vinyl only pressing of 500 copies.
bonus cd version : exact same lp & 7inch as the above version, but in addition also includes a 10 track bonus cdr ‘THE NASHVILLE SESSIONS - 1974’ for the fully exhaustive drywater experience. the disc includes various post drywater oddities from dennis cheplick’s 1974 stint in nashville. included are : the two acetate tracks from the bonus 45, four acoustic demos, and four tracks from the ‘backbone of the nation’ tapes to which dennis added vocal overdubs shortly after the lp was released. beyond the two great acetate tracks, the acoustic demos are also quite good moody folk, and include one track co-written with jack sarvis and considered for inclusion on the lp. the overdubbed ‘backbone’ tracks aren’t exactly a revelation, but the ghostly layered vocals and odd low fidelity have a certain charm of their own... packaged in tri-fold offset printed b&w cover with yet another great vintage photo... available only direct from time-lag, in limited quantity, for just 3 bucks extra.
vinyl only. last few copies!
released february 2012.