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Parish Hall - My Eyes Are Getting Heavy / Skid Row Runner / Lucanna / We're Gonna Burn Together

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Published on Aug 20, 2011

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Imagery for this video is sourced from photos/scans of my original vinyl pressing of Parish Hall - "Parish Hall" (1970) Fantasy Records F-8398.

Very little is known of this superb hard blues-rock trio, whose sole LP appeared on the Fantasy label in 1970. Based in San Francisco's Bay Area (like labelmates Creedence Clearwater Revival), they were led by Garrison Wagner, who'd released a rare garage 45 on the tiny Major Sound label in 1965, with the Gary Wagner Blues Group (I Can't Go On Without You / Save Your Love). Wagner is also thought to have participated in the rare I Think It's Time / Nobody But Me 45 released by San Francisco's Chosen Few on Autumn Records subsidiary North Beach in 1965. He certainly wrote it, and it has been suggested that an earlier incarnation of the band went under the name of Gary Wagner And Thee, though this has not been confirmed. What is for sure is that this Parish Hall are not related to Sacramento's Parish Hall Blues Quintet, who released another rare 45 (Smokestack Lightning / I Can Never Say) on the tiny Ikon label in 1966.

At some point towards the decade's end, Parish Hall came to the attention of Ray Shanklin, a veteran R&B arranger who'd overseen a string of superb singles for Fantasy subsidiary Galaxy throughout the 1960s, for artists including Little Johnny Taylor and Big Mama Thornton. He recorded the band raw and live in the studio, it seems, for their album is notably lacking in smooth edges. Propulsive, tight and peppered with memorable guitar solos, it is never excessive -- barely any of the songs exceed three minutes -- and could have sold very much better than it did. Though the album was also issued in territories including the UK, France (with a different cover) and Australia, however, it didn't catch on anywhere, and the band faded back into undeserved obscurity almost at once.

Gary Wagner -- guitar, piano, lead vocals
John Haden -- bass
Steve Adams - drums

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