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!

 

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Mike Jaimes — The Jazzie Hippie

Mike Jaimes wrote an instrumental piece called Jazzie Hippie around the time Native was formed. His self-recorded demo is a part of Nativology Vol. 1 and makes for an interesting comparison to the version we humbly present today.

As an arrangement, and as a showpiece for his guitar prowess, it’s up there with the band’s best tunes, but it also highlights his skill at linking musical passages that, on paper, might seem too disparate to ever work together.

Mike would employ this talent in so many songs over the next decade. Whenever you hear a musical motif, or a bit of bridging material — chances are that was Mike’s donation.

Interestingly, there is a point of pedantry associated with this song, an odd thing for an instrumental production — the spelling of Jazzie came up upon the first occasion of writing it on a tape cover. One might expect it to be spelled Jazzy, as that’s the way we normally see it used. But, (and here’s where I contributed to the final usage, although I remember it being a group-wide discussion) Jazzy Hippie looks weird in the sense that it employs two differing ways of spelling the same ‘ee’ ending.

So, my point of pedantry led to the present-day, nicely consistent title. It also offers a view into the biotelemetry of the band.

And — what a song!!!!

As a opening number (when we’d had no sound-check) it served to let the sound-technician get a working mix going before having to worry about vocals; as a middle-of-the-set number, it rocked and gave Mat and Woody a chance to rest their voices. The key thing here is — it always worked.

From day one, it was a perfect fit within the architecture of Native’s distinct persona.

Indeed, we did not record an officially-released version until And Then What in 2001, but that version is cut from the same cloth as this wonderful demo, made in the dizzying, chaotic, exhilarating year of 1995.

Recorded and mixed on analogue tape by John Fitzwater at the legendary Marmfington Farm — kick back and spend some time with —

The Jazzie Hippie v. 2

Cornbread Wednesday

Digging Holes Again

Welcome to Nativology — where, each Wednesday, we take a listen to rarities from Native’s secret underground high-security vault while enjoying a steaming hot slice of cornbread, slathered in farm-fresh butter, washed-down with generous amounts of kickapoo joy juice!

Or is that coffee with Nutrasweet and extra dried-out creamer? And the cornbread has that weird digital taste to it… mmm, jpegs!

Anyway, we are Native and we are as surprised as anyone to find such a surfeit of riches in our tape library. We were actually quite productive for a bunch of “lazy” hippies!

The studio where we indulgently delved into our every musical whim, was custom-built by our percussionist, the daring and able John Wood, a.k.a. Woody, a.k.a. Toast, a.k.a. Woodtoast, and many other variations, most of them printable.

It was not a large studio, being as it was a room within a room. But, with heavy sound-reinforced walls, and sitting on a bed of thick rubber so the neighbors were not bothered too badly by our twice-weekly rehearsals, it was sanctuary to us.

We dubbed it Marmfington Farm, named after a mis-remembered town we’d passed through on our way to a gig in another mis-remembered town, and that name would become a sort-of catch-all phrase. It meant paradise. When we issued our first (and thus far, only) live album, we named it Live From Marmfington Farm, Vol. 1. Not because it was recorded there, but because we felt that wherever we played — that place became an extension of our paradise.

The song we’ll examine today had it’s origin in that hallowed place. The year — early 1995, in the era when John Epstein was our keyboardist and Native was on fire.

I remember sitting behind my drums watching Mat & Woody working out the lyrics as Mike helped with the chords Mat was trying out, whilst Epstein kibitzed with his often inscrutable observations. At one point, they were stuck for a lyric and I chimed in, “How about — If it doesn’t kill me, it’s made me stronger?” “Nah, too many syllables — If I’m not dead, it’s made me strong. Yeah, that’ll work.”

Like many of our songs, it was born well before we put it on an album, preferring as we did to letting our songs evolve through performance. Happy accidents arising from spontaneous invention are not to be undervalued, and cannot be overstated in their importance. It was a system that worked well for us, although it must be said — it’s amazing how closely this demo from ’95 resembles the track on our ’97 album, Exhale On Spring Street.

So, here it is — one of our best-remembered songs —

Digging Holes

Cornbread Wednesday