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Merrell ankhauser- The Maui Album

Merrell ankhauser- The Maui Album

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Genre: rock
Rating: 4 stars ****
Title:  The Maui Album
Company: Reckless
Catalog: R.E.C.K.10
Year: 1988
Country/State: Louisville, Kentucky
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: --
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 306
Price: $30.00

Best time to play: This'll sound weird, but it's a great album to listen to when doing yard work.

So here's what the liner notes had to say about this 1988 compilation :

"In 1974 Merrell Fankhauser was living in a jungle shack on the island of Maui with his group MU and his girlfriend Mary Lee, an accomplished violin player. Their lifestyle was mystically oriented and ascetic; they followed a vegan diet with no drugs of alcohol. Later that year guitarist Jeff Cotton and drummer Randy Wimer left for the mainland to become Christian ministers. Merrell and Mary Lee retreated further into the depths of jungle continuing their research into the lost civilization of Lemuria. Occasionally they emerged to play club dates as a duo. Late in 1975 they visited L.A. and recorded "The Maui Album". Popular locally [released on Fankhauser's own Maui Music Company label], it sold 12,000 copies but was not subsequently re-pressed. The Reckless version of "The Maui Album" contains four extra tracks recorded by MU before they disbanded."

original 1976 pressing on Maui Music Company catalog number M-101

Hard to believe, but the story's apparently true and much of the music sounded like it had been inspired by an off-the-grid tropical lifestyle. And that's going to make "The Maui Album" an acquired taste for lots of folks. If you're into the '70s hippy vibe then you'll probably love these acid-tinged paeans to love, peace, and harmonic convergence (I know Fankhauser and company supposedly abstained from such vices).. If that worldview wasn't something you can easily condone ... well, you better run away as fast as you can. I'll readily admit I initially found about half of the collection to be truly cringe inducing - it was particularly difficult to get through the sappy ballads like 'Lovely Lady', 'Waterfall', and 'Sail It Over the Ocean'. For goodness sakes, 'Love Is All There Is' actually sounded like a David Gates and Bread outtake. Things did get better. Given a couple of spins, the album started to reveal some of it's charms. Fankhauser had a wonderful voice and a knack for charming melodies (check out the closer 'Make a Joyful Noise'). As mentioned in the liner notes, the album also included four previously unreleased MU tracks - 'It's Love That Sings the Song', 'In Mu', 'You and I', and 'One More Day'. As a big fan of the MU LP, I'll tell you these were every bit as good as the earlier MU material; particularly the atypical rocker 'One More Rocker'. The album was probably worth buying just for those four tracks.

"The Maui Album" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Lovely Lady (Merrell Fankhauser) - 
The fact of the matter is Fankhauser had a wonderful voice. Yeah, he may have wasted it on slushy ballads like 'Lovely Lady', but the guy was certainly talented. rating: ** stars
2.) I Saw Your Photograph (Merrell Fankhauser) - 
- A breezy, old-fashioned sounding acoustic ballad, 'I Saw Your Photograph' was one of the nicer mainstream efforts with Mary Lee providing mandolin and a violin solo which actually improved the song. Goofy, but in an intriguing fashion.   rating: **** stars
3.) We Were All Free (Merrell Fankhauser) - 
Yeah, the lyrics were hopelessly naive, but there was something charming in Fankhauser's optimistic outlook and the song had a lovely melody. rating: *** stars
4.) On Our Way To Hana (Merrell Fankhauser) - 
My pick for Fanhauser's best solo effort, the autobiographical 'On Our Way To Hana' was a completely serious description of his brush with aliens. A seriously beautiful song though the subject material was definitely a bit offbeat ... YouTube has a clip of Fankhauser and band performing the track in front of a small and seemingly stoned crowd: rating: **** stars
5.) It's Love That Sings the Song (Merrell Fankhauser) - 
As mentioned in the liner notes, ' It's Love That Sings the Song' was one of the four previously unreleased MU songs. Technically it was a bit on the raw, under-produced side, but the song itself was quite stunning, with Fankhauser and company turning in a simple, but hypnotizing ballad, Once again Mary Lee all but stole the show with a stunning violin solo (and I don't even like violin). rating: **** stars
6.) In Mu (Merrell Fankhauser) - 
Another unreleased MU track, 'In MU' was a pretty acoustic ballad with some of Fankhauser patented UFO lyrics. Jeff Cotton turned in a wonderful slide guitar solo. rating: *** stars
7.) You and I (Merrell Fankhauser) - 
Hum, MU does CSN&Y ... Maybe not a perfect comparison, but the breezy melody and close knit harmonies certainly bore at least a passing resemblance to CSN&Y. rating: **** stars
8.) One More Day (Merrell Fankhauser) - 
The liner notes indicated 'One More Day' was recorded in 1972 before Fankhauser and company headed off to Maui. That made perfect sense given the track's hard rocking sound (Fankhauser actually sounded a bit like Black Oak Arkansas' Jim Dandy Mangrum), sounded completely unlike the rest of the collection. That wasn't meant as a criticism since the track was actually a killer ... rating: **** stars

(side 2)
1.) Gardens In the Rain (Merrell Fankhauser) - 
Another pretty ballad, 'Gardens In the Rain' literally sounded like Hawaii ... The ultimate hippy track ? rating: **** stars
2.) Waterfall (Merrell Fankhauser) - 
'Waterfall' was one of the tracks I've never been able to warm up to. A sappy and fey ballad, about the only nice thing I can think of to say is that it was short. rating: ** stars
3.) La La Does the Boo Ru (instrumental) (Merrell Fankhauser) - 
One of the weirder tunes, the instrumental 'La La Does the Boo Ru' sounded like a mash-up of country, Irish folk, and traditional Hawaiian slat key influences. rating: *** stars
4.) Sail It Over the Ocean (Merrell Fankhauser) - 
If David Gates and Bread had decided to ditch LA for Maui, I bet the results would have sounded like 'Sail It Over the Ocean'. Way too sappy for its own good, the song was still quite commercial ... geez it really was like a bad Bread song. rating: ** stars
5.) Love Is All There Is (Merrell Fankhauser) - 
And in case you missed the David Gates comparison, there was always the ballad 'Love Is All There Is'. Dreadful. rating: ** stars
6.) The Source (Merrell Fankhauser) - 
More aliens surrounded by a pretty acoustic melody ... I hate to admit it, but this was a great track. rating: **** stars
7.) Make a Joyful Noise (Merrell Fankhauser) - 
Picking up the tempo while espousing their back-to-nature-lifestyle, 'Make a Joyful Noise' was a nice way to end the album. It started out slowly, but picked up considerable energy as it went along and before you knew it, you were humming the giddy refrain. Add in Mary Lee on mandolin and violin (wonder whatever happened to her) and it was another album highlight ... rating: **** stars

Assuming you can locate a copy, an original copy of "The Maui Album" will set you back over $100 bucks so this is a great backup plan.
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