Chris Darrow may not be a household name — yet. But throughout the history of Southern California country-rock, folk, surf, psychedelic and world music, he has cast a welcome presence. His trail-blazing, country-rock-leaning pair of solo albums, Chris Darrow (1973) and Under My Own Disguise (1974), soon will be released by Everloving Records, the home of Inara George & Van Dyke Parks, Cornelius and Herman Dune . The Darrow collection, titled Chris Darrow/Under My Own Disguise, will be available as a deluxe two-CD, two-LP (180 gram vinyl) with a 48-page 12" x 12" photo book. Street date is March 3, 2009.
The music will also be available through digital retailers without all the fancy stuff.
The Chris Darrow story begins with Kaleidoscope, a late '60s L.A.-based band cited by Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page as his "favorite band of all time." Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman wrote in his book Follow the Music that the first Kaleidoscope album, Side Trips, is his favorite album of all time. Why this cult mania? Kaleidoscope was the first to blend country, rock, folk, blues, psychedelic and world music and have been called the first "world beat" band. They were also precursors to the Flying Burrito Brothers. Singer/songwriter/guitarist David Lindley was also a member.
But the Chris Darrow story did not end with Kaleidoscope's dissolution. He joined the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and then followed the band's Jeff Hanna into the Corvettes on Dot Records. The Corvettes (sans Chris) went on to become Linda Ronstadt's band. Later the Dirt band reformed with Bernie Leadon, who soon became a Flying Burrito Brother. (Is this saga Southern California enough for you?) Darrow later recorded and toured with Hoyt Axton, John Stewart, James Taylor, Sonny & Cher, Gene Vincent, John Fahey and Helen Reddy. As the Chris Darrow reputation continued to develop, he crafted a pair of legendary solo albums for the United Artists label: Chris Darrow and Under My Own Disguise.
The story goes on and on — Darrow went on to record with Nesmith, Kaleidoscope briefly reunited, he recorded with Chris D's Divine Horsemen, formed an unlikely working relationship with colorful producer Kim Fowley and an even less likely collaboration with the Surf Punks' Dennis Dragon. As Darrow continued his 40-year (so far) career in the music business, a new generation of artists discovered him.
Ben Harper, who grew up in Darrow's long-time roost of Claremont, Calif., covered the song "Whipping Boy" from Chris Darrow. The Dust Brothers later remixed it. Mudhoney's Steve Turner has come to idolize Darrow, writing: "It's these solo albums that keep finding their way onto the turntable around my house They have slowly, through the years, wound up in the hands of the right people. People like you and me. And that's no accident."
Likewise, many authors have cited Darrow's contribution to the development of Southern California rock. He is invoked in such volumes as Barney Hoskyns' Waiting for the Sun and Hotel California, Chuck Crisafulli's Are You Ready for the Country, Richie Unterberger's Wayfaring Strangers: Overlooked Innovators and Eccentric Visionaries of '60s Rock.
Enter Everloving Records, the esoteric label from L.A.'s Loz Feliz, known for its relationship with the Claremont musical community that begat both Darrow and Ben Harper. The LA Weekly's Randall Roberts described Everloving as "globetrotting this year, putting out thrilling music by Germans, French, Japanese and Angelenos. The label since 2003 has delivered hot music action from wherever it arrives. They cherry-pick choice little records from across the globe and deliver them stateside."
Everloving Records is noted for their innovative packaging. The Darrow package is an objet d'art. But how will the label create widespread demand for a double album reissue by an artist from the '60s and '70s whom — if you're under a certain age — you've likely never heard of til moments ago? Glad you asked. That's where you come in.