Bad Rice (CD Reissue)
Omnivore Recordings 2015
Review by David Bowling
Ron Nagle is a noted American ceramic sculptor who has a number of pieces in the Smithsonian American Art Museum. He is currently a professor of art at Mills College.
In his other life he was a member of the 1960’s San Francisco rock band Mystery Trend, has recorded as The Durocs with musical cohort Scott Mathews, and authored songs for the likes of Barbra Streisand, Sammy Hagar, The Tubes, Dave Edmunds, and Leo Kottke.
The subject of this review is one of the great lost albums of the psychedelic era. During 1970 he released the solo album Bad Rice, which has been out of print for decades. It included guests Ry Cooder and Sal Valentino of the Beau Brummels and was produced by Jack Nitzsche. The new CD reissue includes the original release, bonus tracks, radio spots, a booklet which presents a comprehensive history of the album, and a second disc of alternative mixes and outtakes.
The music can best be described as psychedelic pop. Some of the tracks just plain rock with roots centered on the west coast music scene of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. There are some Beach Boy harmonies layered in for good measure. The lyrics are incisive and contain humor in places to lighten the overall effect of the album.
“Marijuana Hell” and “Party In L.A.” fit into the San Francisco scene of the early 1970’s. Understanding the lyrics is always just out of reach. “61 Clay,” “Sister Cora,” and “Capricorn Queen” are all-out rockers. “Family Style” has a raw feel due to Nagle’s honky tonk piano style.
This is the first time Bad Rice has officially been reissued on CD. As a sculptor, Nagle has an eye for detail and this album benefits from that fact. It may be grounded in an era that has passed away but it remains a timeless classic of its time period. It is a difficult to find collector’s album that is now back in circulation.