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Merrell Fankhauser - Area 51 Suite (2CD)

Genre: Space Pop
Release Date: 4th March 2013

Label: Gonzo
Catalogue Number: HST101CD
Price: $10.49
Available: In Stock

Merrell Fankhauser - Area 51 Suite
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Merrell Fankhauser has for the last half century been a giant in several of the strands of what the late Gram Parsons described as ‘cosmic American music’, the indigenous North American music. Merrell was one of the founding fathers of surf music in the late 1950s and early 1960s as the post-war economic expansion of California made it even more of a epicentre of the American dream that it had been during the gold rush a century or so before. It is even argued that Merrell was one of the composers of Wipe Out, one of the undoubted anthems of the genre.

In the incredibly incestuous music scene of California in the early 1960s, Merrell was also involved with the musicians who would later become Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band, and Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, and so successfully crossed the great divide between surf music and the nascent avant-rock of Don Van Vliet and his chums, whose warped world view did so much to propel the dance hall pop music of the ‘60s into the art rock of the ‘70s.

He also played with Ed Cassidy of Spirit and other luminaries of the psychedelic and hippy scene, and some of his own records in this particularly arcane genre are undoubted classics. Whether playing within the fairly strict limits of surf rock or producing cerebral soundscapes to dazzle and entrance the psychedelicised listener, Merrell is the undoubted maestro. He could play like a man possessed, making his guitar scream like a whirling dervish, or coax the most delightful seductive and sultry sounds from his instrument.

In later years his cable TV show The Tiki Lounge became a cult hit and he showed again and again not only that he was an inventive and clever musician, but that he was also an adept and insightful interviewer.

Then for 2013 came 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 popularly thought to have had 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. Well done, mate; may the force be with you!        

1. Area 51
2. Signals From Zoran
3. Stardazed
4. Bimini Road
5. Catalina USO
6. Crash Landing
7. Aliens In The Mist
8. Shadow People
9. Cocktails In Space
10. Lost Continent Blues
11. Alien Talk
12. Calling From A Star

Disc 2
1. Area 51
2. Vitina Marcus: Interview
3. Alien Talk
4. Dr. David Jungclaus: Interview
5. Out on the Desert
6. The Little A'le'inn
7. Beyond The Rainbow
8. Calling From A Star
Click above to watch video


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