Randy Holden ‘Population II’
Album Review By Adam McCann
RidingEasy Records/Psychedelic Rock/Proto-Metal
The world has been somewhat unkind to Randy Holden; the man cut his teeth in the early 60’s rock scene before becoming a behemoth of the burgeoning psychedelic scene playing with the likes of Sons of Adam, The Other Half and of course Blue Cheer on their seminal ‘New! Improved!’ album in 1969. Holden left Blue Cheer following the conclusion of this tour to concentrate upon his own music culminating in the 1970 album ‘Population II’.
‘Population II’ has had a troubled history; it was an album which bankrupted Holden and throughout the years it has been bootlegged to death whilst Holden complains that the original mastering of the album flattened the dynamics. Thankfully, this year has a fantastic re-release of ‘Population II’; what the listener gets here is a ground up remaster of this proto-metal gem contemporary with Black Sabbath’s debut album that now sounds amazing; just the way it was intended to with its heavy fuzz blues driven patterns laying the foundations for later heavy metal and in particular doom. Because of this, tracks such as ‘Fruit & Iceburgs’ and ‘Between Time’ have all the appeal of Cream at their most primal, particularly the former bringing back memories of ‘We’re Going Wrong’, whilst the latter has all the energy and drive of ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ by The Stones.
In fact, primal is a good way to describe this album; it is a primordial slab of proto-heavy metal that demonstrates its formation was not just about Black Sabbath and that there were equally gifted, hard-working musicians who history forgot. Fans of this early style of metal should check out this 2020 remaster of this 1970 diamond; ‘Population II’ is beautiful and presents Randy Holden with the credit he so sorely deserves.
Rating : 80/100
MHF Magazine/Adam McCann