Merrell Fankhauser
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Merrell Fankhauser (born in Kentucky, but raised in the Los Angeles area) is one of rock's true originals. He debuted with the surf band Impacts, whose album Wipe Out (Del Fi, november 1962) was one of the first instrumental surf albums. Fankhauser wrote the title-track, which became a hit for the Surfaris. Then he moved on to form the Exiles, whose material would later be collected on Merrell and the Exiles (Ocean), a folk-rock combo with Captain Beefheart's cohorts Jeff Cotton and John French that recorded about 20 Fankhauser songs for Glenn Records, initially in the style of folk-rock (Lila, Supermarket) but later in a more "acid" vein. A few of the 1963-66 singles were collected on Fapardokly (Universal, 1966), which is an Exiles album despite the fact that the label forgot to print the band's name on the cover.

Fankhauser's next project was the HMS Bounty, which actually was simply most of the Impacts. Their Things (1968 - Cherry Red, 1985) contains mellow garage-rock and folk-rock songs (Drivin Sideways On A One Way Street).

Fankhauser briefly jammed with Captain Beefheart. In 1969 Beefheart's guitarist Jeff Cotton and Fankhauser formed Mu (basically a reunion of the Exiles). Their first album, Mu (RTV, 1971), reissued as The Maui Album (Reckless, 1988), contains the mystical/tribal suite Eternal Thirst, the exotic novelty Mumbella Baye La La, a spastic blues number a` la Beefheart (Ain't No Blues), the ethereal psychedelia of Blue Form and Brother Lew. Mu released three singles before disbanding: Ballad of Brother Lew/ Nobody Wants To Shine (Mantra, 1972), One More Day/You've Been Here Before (MU, 1972), On Our Way To Hana/Too Naked For Demetrius (MU, 1973). Cotton moved back to Los Angeles and became a priest.

The material recorded in 1973-74 for Mu's second album would eventually surface on The Last Album (Appaloosa, 1982), reissued as End Of An Era (Reckless, 1988). This material is less psychedelic and more exotic, laid-back, spiritual. The double-disc MU (Sundazed, 1997) contains a selection of both albums and the singles. Children of the Rainbow (Blue Form, 1985) collects some unreleased 1975 sessions. They all pale compared with Mu's first album.

Fankhauser had already (1973) moved to Maui (Hawaii) and recorded his first solo album, Merrell Fankhauser (1976), a collection of acoustic vignettes (Make A Joyful Noise). Calling From A Star (1983), A Day In Paradise (Source 2 1985) and Doctor Fankhauser (1986), recorded in 1982, returned to acid-rock, and were followed by one of his masterpieces, Message To The Universe (One Big Guitar, 1986), a metaphysical rock opera.

The autobiographical concept Psychedelic Dreams (1988), whose songs "tell the story of Merrell's musical career", Back This Way Again (1989), Flying To Machu Picchu (1991), Jungle Lo Lo Band (Legend, 1994) kept the legend alive.

Fankhauser and drummer Ed Cassidy of Spirit also recorded the bluesy On The Blue Road (D-Town, 1995).

Eventually, Fankhauser resurrected the Impacts to make albums of instrumental surf such as Eternal Surf (Ocean, 1997) and Sex Wax And Surf (Ocean, 1999), thus returning to his origins.

Fankhauser worked seven years on the epic 73-minute Return To Mu (Captain Trip, 2000), that includes remakes of Waterfall and On Our way To Hana, and its follow-up Man From Mu. (It is not true that the albums contain old material that were lost in the jungle of Maui, etc etc: the story was made up by the USA distributor).

Rockin And Surfin (Ocean, 2004) is a solo instrumental surf album.

(Tradotto da Marco Bellini)

Merrell Fankhauser (nato in Kentucky ma cresciuto nell'area di Los Angeles) è uno degli artisti davvero originali del rock. Debutta con la band surf Impacts, il cui album Wipe Out (Del Fi, Novembre 1962) è uno dei primi album surf strumentali. Fankhauser ne scrive la title track, che in seguito diventerà una hit per i Surfaris. Fankhauser forma in seguito gli Exiles, i cui pezzi saranno poi raccolti in Merrell and the Exiles (Ocean), una combinazione folk-rock con i compagni di Captain Beefheart Jeff Cotton e John French, che registrano per la Glenn Records circa 20 canzoni di Fankhauser, all'inizio con uno stile folk-rock (Lila, Supermarket) ma successivamente seguendo una vena più “acida”. Qualche singolo degli anni 1963-66 viene raccolto in Fapardokly (Universal, 1966), che è di fatto un album degli Exiles nonostante l'etichetta si sia dimenticata di stamparne il nome sulla copertina.

Il progetto successivo di Fankhauser sono gli HMS Bounty, gruppo composto in gran parte da ex-membri degli Impacts. Il loro Things (1968 - Cherry Red, 1985) presenta delle gradevoli canzoni in stile  garage-rock e folk-rock (Drivin Sideways On A One Way Street).

Fankhauser per un breve periodo suona anche con Captain Beefheart. Nel 1969 il chitarrista di Beefheart Jeff Cotton forma insieme a Fankhauser la band Mu (praticamente una reunion degli Exiles). Il loro primo album, Mu (RTV, 1971), ripubblicato col nome The Maui Album (Reckless, 1988), contiene la suite mistico-tribale Eternal Thirst, l'originale ed esotica Mumbella Baye La La, un numero blues spasmodico à la Beefheart (Ain't No Blues), la psichedelia eterea di Blue Form  e Brother Lew. La band rilascia tre singoli prima di sciogliersi: Ballad of Brother Lew/Nobody Wants to Shine (Mantra, 1972), One More Day/You've Been Here Before (MU, 1972), On Our Way To Hana/Too Naked For Demetrius (MU, 1973).

Cotton torna a Los Angeles e si fa prete.

Il materiale registrato tra 1973 e il 1974 per il secondo album dei Mu infine emerge in The Last Album (Appaloosa, 1982), ripubblicato successivamente come End Of An Era (Reckless, 1988). Il materiale di questo disco è meno psichedelico e più esotico, rilassato e spirituale. Il doppio disco MU (Sundazed, 1997) contiene una selezione di brani da entrambi gli album e dai singoli. Children of the Rainbow (Blue Form, 1985) raccoglie delle sessioni del 1975 non pubblicate. Tutti questi lavori impallidiscono di fronte al primo album dei Mu.

Fankhauser si era già trasferito a Maui (1973), nell'arcipelago delle Hawaii e aveva registrato il suo primo album, Merrell Fankhauser (1976), una raccolta di vignette acustiche (Make a Joyful Noise). Gli album Calling From A Star (1983), A Day In Paradise (Source 2 1985) e Doctor Fankhauser (1986), registrato nel 1982, segnano il ritorno all'acid-rock e sono seguiti da uno dei suoi capolavori, Message To The Universe (One Big Guitar, 1986), una rock-opera metafisica.

Nel concept album autobiografico  Psychedelic Dreams (1988) Merrell racconta la storia della propria carriera musicale, gli album Back This Way Again (1989), Flying To Machu Picchu (1991), Jungle Lo Lo Band (Legend, 1994) mantengono viva la leggenda.

Fankhauser insieme al batterista degli Spirit Ed Cassidy registra l'album blues On The Blue Road (D-Town, 1995).

 A un certo punto Fankhauser resuscita gli Impacts per registrare degli album surf strumentali come Eternal Surf (Ocean, 1997) and Sex Wax And Surf (Ocean, 1999), sancendo così un ritorno alle origini.

Fankhauser lavora per 7 anni all'epico album da 73 minuti Return To Mu (Captain Trip, 2000), che include dei remake di Waterfall e On Our way To Hana, e al suo seguito Man From Mu. (non è vero che l'album contiene del vecchio materiale perso nella giungla di Maui, etc... questa storia è stata inventata dal distributore americano).

Rockin And Surfin (Ocean, 2004) è un album solista surf strumentale.

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