$27 SNAP ON FACE - Heterodyne State Hospital (Heterodyne 0001-002-00001) USA 1977 LP
Blue vinyl / original / vinyl: VG++ | cover: VG++ (gatefold, aged)
Sonoma County weirdos, $27 Snap On Face, rank among the strangest of west coast cult acts from the 70's. Formed sometime early in the decade by guitarist Bob O'Connor and vocalist David Petri, the lineup was soon complete with the addition of bassist Steve Nelson, guitarist Jim Doherty, keyboardist Frank Walburg and drummer Ron Ingalsbe. Almost immediately, O'Connor and Petri knew they wanted to create something truly bizarre. Though the other members were resistant at first, soon the band were making waves in Sebastopol and its surrounding cities. With over the top performance art integrated into their shows, the band seemed destined for cult status from the get go. The band's history goes blurry from this point onward, though I am aware of at least one single issued in 1975, prior to the "Heterodyne State Hospital" album.
As for this album, well, let's just say it's an acquired taste. Some get it and others don't. I suppose I'm with the latter, though I can appreciate the band's desire to do something unusual. With Zappa flourishes penetrating the music presented here, the album comes across like an inside joke that only a select few were intended to understand. This being said, the listener might often feel a bit alienated by the material here. Sounding like an early Frisco hippie act fronted by Frank Zappa, the focus here is sublime and not so much about musicality as it is lyrical content. The band self-issued 1,000 copies of the album in 1977, though it sounds like it may have been recorded considerably earlier. The band continued for a short time, doing mostly union gigs in the Sonoma County area before eventually calling it a day. O'Connor now lives in Hawaii, Petri is a realtor in Cobb, Walburg runs a vacation community in Santa Rosa and Ingalsbe's whereabouts are unknown. Doherty passed away in 1993.
If weird cult bands are your thing, then you'll surely find something to love about $27 Snap On Face. This elusive piece of west coast psychedelic is, if anything, something you're not likely to ever forget. Enjoy this re-up from 'Gumby'!