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Sam Esh and the Hard Black Thing - Montezuma Baby Duck (1994)
HBTs side is a stumbling, white-knuckled barrel ride through myriad soundscapes as diverse as Amon Dl, Kalacakra, Portsmouth Sinfonia, Steve Marcus & Door & The Window, sometimes all at once! (Siltbreeze press release)
I can't imagine how this record released by Siltbreeze, but I guess that's why these labels are great: they don't try to built a trademark sound, they put out whatever they like.
Press releases are overexagerating usually and this is no exception. But I can tell you that you'll wonder if you're listening to some Magic Band session (rather warming up) from 1965. Mike 'Rep' Hummel is the producer of this (and he provides a primitive rhythm by banging on assorted things he calls percussion), Stu Sinn plays the horn (and he's apparently the one to blame for this record) and Roger Time plays lead guitar (well, don't expect any riffs). And there's Sam Esh - former Woodruff Ave. block captain, now mayor of a small unnamed hamlet near Savannah, Georgia (as Siltbreeze informs us). He's providing some vocals that you're definately regognize the next time you hear him growl, shout and mumble in his unknown language. In the B-side we're treated with two tracks from Esh's "Jack Of Diamonds" cassette and excerpts from the unreleased "The Sam Esh Comedy Album", in which Sam provides the jokes AND the laughs - as well as the songs.
"Hard Black Thing was a Columbus, Ohio, quartet featuring Sam Esh (former Woodruff Ave. block captain, now mayor of a small unnamed hamlet near Savannah, Georgia), Mike Rep (Quotas, True Believers, etc.) Stu Sinn & Roger Time (both from the Harry Patt Band). Soundwise, HBTs side is a stumbling, white-knuckled barrel ride through myriad soundscapes as diverse as Amon Dl, Kalacakra, Portsmouth Sinfonia, Steve Marcus & Door & The Window, sometimes all at once! Side 2 begins w/ excerpts from the unreleased Sam Esh comedy LP. The sound is not unlike one might expect if one expects to find the likes of Tubby Boots channeling Jack Mudurian at a volunteer fire department turkey raffle. The laughs are on you, friend! Then its a down n dirty steel string strum & coarse vocal hum that is capable of reducing even the most erudite Alan Lomax sycophant to nothing more than a human tear box lost in Porch Swing, USA. Label art by Graham Lambkin. An LP that definitely needs to heard to be conquered." - Siltbreeze.
...The best thing this record has going for it is Sam Esh's vocals which consistently fail to become recognizable as any language spoken on this planet. Honestly, he's far weirder SOUNDING than anyone from the stable of more celebrated crazy rock'n'roll troubadours (Syd Barrett, David Koresh, etc.) And since Sam has probably left Columbus for good, I guess this record is the only document you're likely to come across of this local cult celebrity. Call it an underground classic, I guess. - Nathan Weaver via CRINGE
Since its inception several years ago, the Hard Black Thing has undergone a variety of personnel changes, yet band leader and co-founder Stu Sinn's unique and slightly bent musical vision has never strayed far from his original intentions to create a band stylistically different from any other. The group is a revolving door of musicians, some who have never even played together until they set foot on the stage. One former member even went so far as to say that he was going to make a shirt that read: "I played in the Hard Black Thing and all I got was this lousy t-shirt".
The constant of the group is Stu Sinn, who plays his horn in what he calls "the key of X" and recites lyrics in between puffs on his cigarette. Behind him, a slapdash ensemble of musicians plays some sort of wild improvisation. Make no mistake about it, this band is not for every taste, although they have developed a small but loyal cult following of fans. An independent record label from Philadelphia, Silt Breeze, even released a full length record of one of the group's initial lineups, which included street musician and Columbus folk hero, Sam Esh, as well as record store mogul, Mike Rep. One recent incarnation featured Nelson Slater, who is best known for recording an album in the mid 1970's which Lou Reed produced.
Besides leading the Hard Black Thing, Sinn also heads a grass roots record label, Belly Fu Oh Happy Whale, and works tirelessly to promote his literary journal, Happy Whaler. To contact the movement labeled "Happy Whale" or Stu Sinn, write to: P.O. Box 10692 Columbus Ohio 43201. - J.Drenik (Oct 27, 1997)
Side A-Hard Back Thing Session A1 The First Thing A2 The Girl Got Off Weak From Snakebite A3 Gas Planets A4 Faro Goddamn
Side B B1 Bonnie And Clyde B2 Northsoutheastwest B3-B6 Excerpts from "The Sam Esh Comedy Album" featuring the songs Pony Express/St.Louis St.Loo/Dirty Girls and Dirty Boys
Note: in the rar file you'll find that tracks A1 & A2 have different titles than the above tracklist. The tracks are the correct ones, only the titles are wrong - please rename them according to the tracklist.
Long before 'weird-folk' there was the 'weird blues' of Sam Esh and Hard Black Thing.