Listen – Kak – Rain (45 edit) – MP3
The end of yet another week is here and I’m just glad to get here in one piece.
In celebration of that fact, I bring you one of the awesomest, most brain bending-est, psychedelic sonic blasts ever committed to seven inches of vinyl.
The record in question is one that I chased for years, never finding one at a decent price until a few months back when I caught a copy as part of a big lot of 45s. In addition to the wondrous 45 we’ll all be hearing today, I also got a bunch of soul and 60s pop in the deal, some of which have already appeared in this space.
I first heard of Kak way back in the early days of CDs when I got two of their tracks (including today’s selection) on an import comp of 60s psyche. I bought that comp (three CDs at a relatively high price) to get one specific track, that being Love’s ‘Your Mind and We Belong Together’, which was not yet available on compact disc (anyone else here remember those days???).
Anyhoo, the comp – the title of which I can no longer remember since it was long ago lost after being loaned out and never returned – ended up turning me on to a couple of bands I later dug into deeply, namely Pearls Before Swine, and today’s artist, Kak.
Some time after acquiring those CDs, I blew a wad of cash on an import bootleg repressing of Kak’s sole Epic LP. I liked the record a lot, but was pole-axed when I discovered that the version of ‘Rain’ on the LP was a much tamer affair than the one I had grown to love on the CD comp. That this was in an era when the interwebs were in their infancy, I was at a loss as to why the versions didn’t match up, and it wasn’t until years later that I discovered that the version of the song that I loved so much had appeared only on a 45 release.
Thus began the search….
I was never able to grab a copy in the field, and seemingly every time it would pop up on E-Bay I would end up getting outbid.
As is always the case, I saved the search and bided my time. When the lot of 45s popped up (with no individual records graded) I knew I was taking a chance, but that’s part of the record game. Sometimes you have to leap before you look in the hopes that you will be rewarded when you land.
Fortunately for me, this was one of those times.
I won the auction, the box of records arrived at my door, and I opened it only to discover that the seller had packed everything in huge wads of shredded newsprint – which, since it’s one of the shittiest grades of paper imaginable – had (post-shredding) deteriorated even further, leaving my house coated in small scraps of paper, paper dust and god knows what else.
That said, the added labor of the clean up paid off in the end because the one 45 I actually wanted in the lot (the one by Kak) was in decent shape, and there was a nice stack of extras to make the value of the purchase all the better.
Now, at the beginning of the piece when I described the 45 edit of ‘Rain’ in glowing terms, I suspect (having listened to it yet again while I was writing this) that I was not quite effusive enough. ‘Rain’ is nothing less than two solid minutes of ass-kicking compressed into 45 form, guaranteed to set your hair on end, while you leap from your chair, air-guitar in hand, leaping about your house like a goofball.
It’s that good.
Where the LP version (which can be heard here) is a relaxed bit of San Francisco sunrise, the 45 edit of ‘Rain’ is a blistering and unrelenting mixture of late period garage powered, speed-freakery with just a pinch of soul added for flavor. The lead guitar by Dehner Patten is a fluid, wah-wah soaked wonder and the rhythm section is uncharacteristically powerful with over modulated drums and even at one point pushed even further by a round of handclaps, and just when it gets up to full speed, it’s over almost as soon as it started.
I listen to ‘Rain’ and the first thing that comes to mind is to question why not this wasn’t a hit, at least in the limited world of the FM underground. Perhaps it was too intense, whether for the Golden Gate Park hippies or the general AM radio audience. It’s entirely possible that ‘Rain’ may have made it’s only impact amongst the amphetamine sodden, leathered and chained motorcycle set where it provided the soundtrack for any number of nocturnal chain-whippings. Could it be that the band (or the label) witnessed the unholy explosions unleashed by the record, then changed their tune (literally) retreating into the version of the song that appeared on the LP?
The world may never know.
I hope you dig the song as much as I do, and I’ll be back on Monday.