Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Although formed in Davis, California, Kak were based in San Francisco for a good part of 1968, when they recorded their only album. Lead singer, guitarist, and primary songwriter Gary Lee Yoder and lead guitarist Dehner Patten had been in the Oxford Circle, an obscure early Northern Californian psychedelic band that had cut one garage/psych single ("Foolish Woman"/"Mind Destruction") and played some shows on the San Francisco psychedelic circuit, while bassist Joe-Dave Damrell had been on a 1965 single on Scorpio Records with Group "B".
The self-titled Kak LP was minor-league San Francisco psychedelic rock colored by a lot of influence from bigger Bay Area bands, particularly Moby Grape; the vocal harmonies and curling guitar work on tracks like 'Disbelievin'" and "Everything's Changing" in particular sounded like a more pedestrian Moby Grape. There were also more distant echoes of Quicksilver Messenger Service (in the guitar work) and the Grateful Dead (in faint traces of country-blues-rock). Kak were best, and least derivative, at their quietest, as on the gentle country-tinged rocker "I've Got Time, " the good-time wistful psych-folk-rock of "Lemonade Kid, " and the harpsichord-decorated ballad "Flowing By, " which was as derivative of Donovan as much of their other songs were of Moby Grape.
Kak's album was barely promoted and sold little. It didn't help that the band played less than a dozen shows before breaking up in early 1969, Damrell having already quit prior to the split. Yoder did a single for Epic and and then joined Blue Cheer. The Kak album eventually became a pricey collector item, and was reissued on CD by Big Beat (with the new title Kak-ola) in 1999 with plenty of bonus cuts, including previously unreleased acoustic demos and Yoder solo tracks from the late sixties. - Richie Unterberger