Take Me Home (vinyl)
This vinyl is very hard to come by, usually $200+ on Amazon, Ebay or Discogs. Numero Group has licensed but not yet pressed a vinyl reissue, in the meantime a digitally re-mastered CD from Big Pink can be found on collector sites for much less, and you can stream all the tracks on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube etc.
Self-released with only 1000 discs pressed, this album has been kept alive for almost 40 years by vinyl collectors. The late Patrick Lundborg was kind enough to include it in "The Acid Archives", his definitive guide to 60s and 70s vinyl. As a result, clean copies occasionally trade among collectors, and reviews like this one continue to pop up from around the world.
Part of what attracts collectors to an album like this is how it was crafted. My own dive into the equipment of the time was included in the liner notes, recounted below. But I think the biggest attractor is what Patrick pinpointed in his Introduction to the Acid Archives:
"The connection between talent and success in pop culture is sporadic, at best. Sometimes the relationship may appear to be almost inverted...Some of the obscure albums listed here display talent, commitment and resources to match the most championed artists, yet coming from the wrong place or time, they made no impact. The curiosity of record lovers has rescued them from oblivion, and some of these works have seen a belated recognition even greater than the artist might have hoped for when they were made, several decades ago".
Take Me Home was a snapshot when I was finishing up at Stanford and trying to choose between med school, silicon valley, and moving to LA to make a start as a studio musician. We started by recording the acoustic guitars and vocals of Mari's Song in an isolation booth at KZSU (the radio station housed under Memorial Hall on the Stanford campus). Wanting a more hands-on approach, I was lucky enough to have met a Music Composition major named Larry Good with a generous spirit and a 4-track reel-to-reel tape deck he let me borrow. I worked out how to control the deck myself while playing one part at a time. Having listened to a lot of Allman Brothers, I loved how electric guitars could build into a rave, so I began recording a cover of Greg Allman's Sweet Melissa, overdubbing the three electric guitars straight into the deck, and relying on its preamps and the tape itself to create distortion and sustain. Liking the music (not the politics) of Dixie, I launched into that epic southern theme and marched Jeff Fraass Pera's snare drum back and forth across the stereo image, finishing with wah-wah bomb blasts and tapering to a lone acoustic guitar in the aftermath. The process was a solitary one, but it hinged a sonic gate wide open for me.
Now I knew I could engineer a whole album, Sergeant Pepper style (bouncing multiple instruments onto one track, backing vocals onto one more, then combining those with additional instruments and finally laying down the percussion and lead vocal on their own tracks). Mixing from this four-track tape onto a different stereo deck is how I created the final two track master.
The title song Take Me Home was superbly written by my acoustic duo partner at the time - John Triska, now an elementary school principal. It inspired my brilliant classmates Bruce Charronat and Lex Passaris to shoot the album cover at the newly opened BART station in San Francisco.
Triska's timeless lyrics and strong minor structure led me to try Take Me Home as a period piece (I see flappers trying to Charleston their way through the crash of 1929). When I played this version for John, he expressed utter confusion. He was much happier when I played him the version my son Brandon arranged twenty five years later to play with my daughter Megan on vocals. Megan and Brandon have since made four albums of wonderful music together, which you can find through MeganKeely.com