Forgotten series: J.D. Blackfoot – The Ultimate Prophecy (1970)

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Born Benjamin Franklin Van Dervort, J.D. Blackfoot had been around the block quite a few miles by the time The Ultimate Prophecy materialized in 1970. Prior to investing his energy into music, the Ohio native worked as a driver, pest controller and insurance salesman. He eventually joined a local band, the Ebb Tides, followed by a solo career, which resulted in the name change.

Hooking up with former members of the Ebb Tides, a deal with the Mercury label was then struck. The summer of 1969 saw the arrival of a single, “Who’s Nuts Alfred” backed by “Epitaph For A Head” that met with little interest. Nevertheless, Mercury Records allowed J.D. Blackfoot the opportunity to put together a complete album. Along with his pals from the Ebb Tides, which included guitarist Jeff Whitlock and drummer Don Waldron, bassist Kenny May and future Pure Prairie League guitarist Craig Fuller were recruited into the fold, and “The Ultimate Prophecy” was created.

The title cut of the album is a suite, and a spiritual one at that as it examines the universal cycles, from birth to death to rebirth. Leapfrogging back and forth between heavy duty riffing and acoustic arrangements, The Ultimate Prophecy takes the listener on a challenging, thought-provoking and inspiring roller coaster ride of both maddening and mystical moods. Framed of swerving melodies, shifting patterns, sunny psychedelic harmonies and intense vocals reflecting the impassioned lung power of an evangelist, here’s a piece of music trembling with mind-numbing complexity.

Elsewhere on The Ultimate Prophecy, there’s the bubbly country rock of “One Time Woman” that bears impressions of the Byrds having a hoedown with Creedence Clearwater Revival, while “We Can Try,” the mild-mannered “I’ve Never Seen You” and the sweet and gentle “Angel” further disclose J.D. Blackfoot’s Southern-fried code. Had Lynyrd Skynyrd been influenced by West Coast acid-salted folk pop rather than the blues, they probably would have sounded something like what The Ultimate Prophecy involves.

A 2008 Fallout Records reissue of this legendary album additionally includes a bevy of bonus tracks. J.D. Blackfoot’s aforementioned debut single, the hysterically kooky “Who’s Nuts Alfred” and the greasy space rocking “Epitaph For A Head” stand among a couple of extra treats on the disc, as well as growling blues battered tunes such as “Savage” and “Wonderin’ Where You Are.” Punctuated with a celestial chorus, the piano based “Almost Another Day” is papered to the ceiling with pretty textures, and the galloping, hard-edged rhythms of “Every Day-Every Night” percolates to a primal garage rock urgency.

Slipping and sliding with diverse styles, The Ultimate Prophecy is fascinating and enchanting. Running the table from country pop to airy psychedelic fairydust to whirly twirly progressive rock figures, the record stuns and excites on a variety of levels.

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