RTV 1976 / Out-Sider 2015
Also known as “The Maui Album”: a spiritual journey from twang to nirvana via Hana.
Away from Californian buzz, the Hawaii became a home from home for Merrell Fankhauser once the ‘60s turned into the next decade. Minor surf hits such as “Wipe Out” were gone with the wind, and bands like THE IMPACTS and FAPARDOKLY had been almost forgotten when Merrell set upon a spiritual quest, for the lost continent of Mu and inner peace, and for domestic bliss with violinist Mary Lee. Both turned out to be unattainable, yet inspired this record – quiet and beautiful as Maui itself – which George Harrison reportedly found to be lacking sentiment, save for the stinging “On Our Way To Hana” that he expressed a wish to play slide on but never got down to it leaving it to the song’s writer to deliver a stellar guitar job.
Yet the ex-Beatle was wrong, as “Lovely Lady” with its ebbing piano, raining strings and delicate strum gets to the high emotional plateau, where Fankhauser’s soft voice builds up romantic stanzas, and “Waterfall” flows so delicately it pulls the listener in. The drift may get too mellow on the dewy-eyed melodies of “We Were All Free” but this piece provides such a perfect marriage of country and chamber music that, when it dissolves in silence before two minutes are over, there’s longing for more, and “Make A Joyful Noise” quenches the thirst by pouring West Coast notes into the mix. Yet while instrumental “La La Does The Boo Ru” spills into the prairies, the vibe of “Love Is All There Is” rings universal and is akin to The Quiet One’s own output, thus standing out as Merrell’s minor masterpiece.
Read all about its background here.