Review ·

Originally recorded in 1971 by California's long-forgotten Betty, Handful is an interesting and frustrating album, but not because of any of the songs on it. The ten tracks are standard for the time period and show that the musicians were competent if not particularly imaginative songwriters. Opener "Boogie with You" has a distinct roadhouse feel reminiscent of the Doors or Canned Heat. Guitarists Mike McMahon and Anthon Davis lay down some funky guitar licks accented by Tom Jordan's piano and an able rhythm section comprising Al Rodriguez on drums and Kerry Kanbara on bass. And the other nine songs on the album are variations on this theme.

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"Blind with Shame" contains some poppy guitar hooks and a catchy chorus, and "Thank You" replaces the piano with an organ and blues riffs with Moby Grape-inspired metal chords. On "Lights Gonna Shine," the band travels the farthest afield by trading out the shouted lyrics and boogie sensibility of the other tracks for a more folk-oriented point of view. The result, by far the most interesting track on the album, sounds like a great ending theme for Soylent Green or Logan's Run. But Handful could have been recorded by any number of bands; blues roadhouse acts that were exceptional staked their claim to the music thirty years ago. Compared with more familiar records from the era, Handful isn't that compelling.

 

But listening to the album does pique an interest in the band that put them together, and in that regard Shadoks Music misses out. There was a huge opportunity here to track down the members of the band for interviews and have them put Handful into both an artistic and a historic context. It's nearly impossible not to wonder what became of Betty.

 

The real story with Handful is that thirty-five years ago a band scraped together enough money to press two hundred copies of an album to sell at shows. The intervening years are a black hole that Shadoks does nothing to fill in. In this case, music is subordinate to the unwritten history of band. Where Handful could have been a compelling remembrance of a group that once upon a time made a record, it is merely a reissue of somewhat forgettable songs.

 

***

Label: www.normal-records.com

Editors - An End Has a Start People Misbegotten Man

Back in those days, you were either in a car club or band. All of the members are alive and well. All are doing what they like and have lived great lives.

The chance to make music and have people enjoy was a wonderful reward. We never thought of success in the music, only a very great life experience. We can all look back at those years and smile.

Now our grandchildren hear our album and look at grandpa with new appreciation and hopefully respect.

It was a wonderful experience, full of memories.

Kerry Kanbara

Kerry Kanbara

We were the typical garage band of the era, right down to the gallons of Red Mountain at rehearsals in Kerry's basement. I always thought we were a dance- rather than a show band. We did get 'em dancing. We had a lot of fun not playing

Mike McMahon

This album was a lark. We were given one evening recording time in a well known studio in Van Nuys, California. Frank Fisher, later to join the sound crew for the Jacksons was the engineer (worked at the studio) on this album and a friend of the Band.
We started to record after regular hours on a week end. We layed down all of the tracks that evening. Tom the Key board wiz had never played with us before and did an amazing job. Even after a late evening and gallons of Red Mountain Wine, the tape came out so good that we tapped the wine and beer fund to press 200 copies.
There was never an intent to go comercial with this album as it was just a weekends outing and a chance to make a few copies for friends and family. We never tried to push the songs to agents or record companies as we all had other thing to do in life.

Kerry Kanbara
kkanbara@aol.com

Kerry Kanbara

This was a true labor of love. Recording the album was the easiest part, as back then all of the music had to be transcribed to musical notation for copyright purposes and this took the better part of 3 months. Anthon Davis was the force behind the band and along with (unmentioned in the credits) Lee Marks penned most of the songs. This was one of the first recording projects that I produced and was a lot of fun, especially working at Sound City with Jack Crymes and Ed O'Donnell helping out. I was a bit non-plussed that the band sold the album to Shadoks without even trying to get in touch with me, but this is still the music biz and par for the course.

Frank Fisher

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