Native’s Classic First Album – Side Two

We’ve got a big announcement to make next week, so we’re going to cruise through a rundown of the second side of Native‘s epic first album for ya’lls!

When we say side two, we’re talking about the cassette version. In 1994, very few people had CD players in their cars, and those that did held an honorary status of near-godliness in our primitive minds.

Sadly, Native never had a vinyl release in our ten year run. But, in your mind – imagine you are flipping over from side one of a big wax platter, dropping the stylus on the first track, and kicking back with a gigantic, freshly-packed bong, while staring at Karl Ottersberg‘s brilliant album cover…

Here’s a tune with an interesting history. Mat Hutt wrote the music, Mike wrote the indelible ear-worm riff, and I wrote the lyrics and the bridge. I’ve been asked many times about the identity of ‘Sammi in red’, and all I can reveal is that she’s the same gal who inspired Native’s first song, Something Worth Remembering, and two songs that would come later – Sweet Intensity, and December Roses. She’s even more famous in a song by a major band from our scene that specifically names her. Quite a gal, to say the least! (BTW, this was my first bridge – I love a good bridge!)

Interested Third Party

Next we have a lovely reggae by Mat featuring a heavenly harmony from the great Catherine Russell. Mike’s solo was a first-take!

Fall Away

After that, we settle into the easy city-hippie groove we were so good at. A song about getting high in the city. Our management would adopt this song-title as their business name shortly thereafter and everyone got high in the city!

Running Smooth

Native was massively influenced by The Meters, and yet there is scant evidence of that anywhere on the album. Except here. Matt Lyons’ massive bass-line is the glue that never stops holding, even after all these years.  The island in question was Manhattan.


The grand finale is this epic, co-written with our former lead singer, Anthony Ballsley. Recorded in one take, as I was suffering with a serious bout of pneumonia, and our gear was breaking down. This is one of the tunes we are best known for, and was a killer in a live setting. All praise Mike Jaimes’ heroic guitar gymnastics – they never fail to impress, and indeed, they hold redemptive qualities, in our opinion.

The Sea

Okay, you just got learned about Native’s first album! You are now officially a better person, and your grandchildren will revel in your tales of what it was like when America was not run by alien overlords!

Next week, a merry Christmas present is forthcoming from us to you! Stay tuned!


Mike Jaimes Took Us All Down to the River.

When Native was preparing our first album, we were trying on a lot of different musical styles. With Anthony Ballsley as lead singer, we had rocked hard. But with his departure, the various tastes and temperaments of Mat Hutt, John Wood, John Epstein. Matt Lyons, Mike Jaimes, and Myself all came to the forefront and many an hour was spent in our Mott Street basement studio, The Radon Room, trying to find our signature sound.

We’ve heard in the past few weeks, as we’ve reviewed side one of that album, that we were capable of spanning a lot of differing aesthetics – from the powerful rock of Carried Away, to the straight pop of Go, to the funky groove of Trying, to the candle-lit folky vibe of Shed Some Light, to the psychedelic Mood Swing – Native’s versatility was so all-encompassing that we were in danger of being impossible to categorize.

While, being uncategorizable might seem pretty cool, in the world of big record labels it is a major negative. “How the hell do we market this?,” was the feedback our management got from all quarters of those high offices.

The record never got picked up by a major, and we were plenty bummed out.

In today’s environment an album like ours would probably have a much better chance of finding an audience, so we take a bit of solace in that.

But, back then – when things were bleak – we rallied around the one song Mike had brought in. A rollicking little number, with a gentle groove, a heartfelt sentiment, and a soulful vocal. In many ways, it rallied us, and we persevered through the fallout of failing to get a deal, even as our studio-mates, The Spin Doctors, and the other bands in our scene – Blues Traveler, Phish, God Street Wine, and others all went on to have successful, multi-album runs and radio hits.

For Native, it was management upheavals, John Epstein‘s departure, and the long slog of being everyone’s opening act, but rarely the headliner.  It was a crucible, but we went through it and came out swinging.

And a major reason why we didn’t capsize was because of one song.

It would become the song we always played at every show, with requests coming in before we could get to it.

Even as I type this, I’m humming the easy-going melody and find myself smiling in the face of yet another set of dark times. The eternality of Mike’s deceptively simple invention will never cease to amaze me, and can never grow old.

Folks, in times like these you gotta go —

Down To The River

A Native Trifecta!

We here at Native Central are quite excited about an announcement we’ll be making later this month – we won’t spoil it with any clues or hints as to the whys and wherefores at this time, but if you are a Native fan — be excited. Be very excited!

The immediate upshot of the portentous occasion, though, is that the current weekly blog, examining the newly-remastered tracks from our self-titled first album, must be compressed like an accordion. Instead of the usual format we have followed, focusing on one track for each post, we’ll trot through a few of them in one happy bunch!

Previously, we examined Carried Away, and Go — tracks one and two respectively.

Now, we’re ready to tackle track three — this sprightly little number was completely written by John Epstein and it showcases his versatility.

It also departed greatly from Native’s M.O. in the way we developed our songs. Normally, we’d collaborate as a band with the main songwriter, oftentimes coming up with new material, such as lyrics, bridges, musical themes, etc. But, in this singular instance that process was bypassed, as the song was deemed studio-ready after minimal rehearsal, although John’s lyrics underwent a complete rewrite when, upon reflection, they were found to be a bit too dark.

Nice song. Not much else to say about it, since it was rarely performed by us (for reasons lost in the hoary mists of unreliable memory).

On to track four – a real beauty, and one of Mat Hutt‘s all-time best renditions. A true hippie anthem, with its heart on its sleeve and irony-free. It’s a song we would return to for solace during the dark eras that lay ahead. Like Tolkien’s ring — it would bind us, and remind us of our brotherhood and the bond we shared.

Finally, track five is one of my top personal favorites. We knew nothing of bipolar (or any other mental conditions other than being stoned, or not stoned). I guess we were channeling when we wrote it, and who would have thought this short, quirky ditty would blossom into a long, fiery Mike Jaimes-led exploration at our gigs?

I also really like the production on this one. It’s really one of Lou Giminez‘ best efforts as our producer. The reverse-reverb was a nice touch!

And with that we have nearly reached the end of side one, if we were listening to the cassette version. The final song on that side deserves it’s own story, which we’ll endeavor to tell over a heaping pile of cornbread next Wednesday.

Until then, here’s a trio of table-grade Native goodness, a winning trifecta if ever there was one!