Fever Tree…The Lost Tapes!
If you lived anywhere along the I-10 Corridor from Austin to Baton Rouge, you've at least heard of Fever Tree.
Their history is one of "Murphy's Law As it Applies to Rock Music". Fever Tree was a very accomplished group and their live performances were quite often flawless. Their personal lives were, on the other hand quite flawed.
Now, for hard core Fever Tree fans...tapes of a live performance have been unearthed and made into a CD. No...not those awful "Live in Lake Charles" tapes the someone had the audacity to release..but a "live" recording of the original Fever Tree back in 1969..
For the Houston Chronicle story...
fever tree live 1969: Something old is new
About three years ago, Rob Landes left SugarHill Studios with a time capsule. He plugged it into his car’s CD player and out of the speakers came Michael Knust’s guitar and Dennis Keller’s voice from 1969, wailing Grand Candy Young Suite. After that came Ninety-Nine and One Half (Won’t Do), Don’t Come Crying to Me Girl, Hey Gyp and San Francisco Girls (Return of the Native).
“I was overcome with every emotion you can imagine. Hearing that music come out of my car speakers just overwhelmed me,” Landes said last week. “I had to pull over to the side of the road. It was just overwhelming.”
Landes experience came after he found some Ampex tapes in a box in his closet, where it had been sitting for the past 17 years. On the package holding the tapes was Scott Holtzman’s handwriting that said “Fever Tree live.”
“I thought, ‘This doesn’t make any sense. We never did a live session,’ ” Landes said. He had no recollection of Fever Tree’s manager ever giving him the tapes.
Landes’ said he had no way to play the tapes, so he took them out to SugarHill, where he was doing some work. SugarHill’s owner, Andy Bradley, processed the old tapes and burned Landes a CD.
“When (Bradley) downloaded these tapes for me … he called me and said, ‘I think you’re going to like what’s on these tapes.’ He said, ‘I’m just going to give it to you and let you listen for yourself,’ ” Landes said. “So I went out there and picked them up, stuck them in the player on my car on the way home from the studio and out through the car speakers came Fever Tree.”
Hearing the music, Landes remembered that Fever Tree had gone out to play one last time out at Mount Carmel High School. “Somebody wanted to record this for posterity,’” he said. “Somebody had the forethought to think this may be the very last time. And it was indeed the last time the original group played together.”
Landes sent the original tapes to Sundazed Records and they turned them into a CD and vinyl album called fever tree live 1969. It officially goes on sale on July 26.
Memories of that last gig were not good ones.
Fever Tree was no longer a band when they got together that last time in 1969. “We weren’t even speaking to each other,” Landes said.
But Fever Tree had a commitment to UNI records for one more album. “We ended up out there at the high school simply to fulfill this obligation to UNI records and we were not happy about it, Landes said.
“When they got these tapes back to California, they didn’t like what we were doing,” Landes said. UNI shelved the live album and put together a package called For Sale, which was made up of outtakes from other recording sessions. “We didn’t have anything to do with it. And we hated it. We hated that album. I listened to it one time and just didn’t believe what they had done.”
The live album contains extended versions of five songs — way longer than Fever Tree had done on any studio recording, Landes said. Each song runs 10-12 minutes, he said.
Dennis Keller has heard the clips, also, but he’s not very happy with what he heard. To him, the sound was just not good enough to be turned into a record. “I don’t think it represents Fever Tree as well as the other albums,” Keller said.
He said he remembers that the concert was not set up very well for a live recording and that if a live album had been the goal, the record company should have taped multiple shows and taken the best cuts.
“If it were up to me, the tape would have remained in the closet,” he said.
However, Landes, whose days as a rock musician are decades behind him, is happy with what he heard. “When I listened to this, I thought, ‘My God, this is good.’ I couldn’t believe it was as good as it was because we literally were not speaking to each other,” he said. “As good as it was, I wonder how good it could have been if we were all on the same page.”
Landes said he finds this amazing that people are still interested in Fever Tree today. “I’m proud of what we did,” he said, “but, God, that was a long time ago.”
Meanwhile, Keller is enmeshed in his first album in many years with his Fever Tree Rising project, which is taking shape. Recorded in Austin and Friendswood, the basic tracks are down and Keller’s still working on the final vocals.
For a look back at the history of Fever Tree, see Fever Tree was here.