One Track Mind: Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger, “Long Gone” (2014)

Charlotte Kemp Muhl and Sean Lennon’s Ghost of A Saber Tooth Tiger guested on WNYC’s Spinning On Air last month and played some songs from the newly-released Midnight Sun album, but perhaps revealed more of themselves with the cover they also performed on the show.

The band, which incorporated the members of Invisible Familiars, made a reverb-drenched run at “Long Gone,” Syd Barrett’s acid pop number from The Madcap Laughs. Barrett’s version, as it was with all of his overlooked post-Pink Floyd nugget, is fragile and thin, relying only on an organ and his acoustic guitar, charming in its delicacy but also possessing this dark undercurrent not so obvious on the rest of Madcap.

The Ghost of A Saber Tooth Tiger brings the full band to bear on the song, busting out of the tune’s seams with heavy tones from guitars, Muhl’s organ and Tim Kuhl’s discriminating drums as the song descends into the metal bombast waiting at the end the chorus. That’s something that wasn’t envisioned by Barrett but could have easily been the kind of treatment of the band he left behind during its 70s heyday. Lennon’s austere vocal approximates Barrett’s, which keeps this modern-day version tethered to the humble original.

The GOASTT’s murky, mystical and sometimes baroque brand of rock did much to bring late-sixties psychedelia to the 21st century, and it’s logical to think that the inspiration for this didn’t need to go any further than Lennon’s immediate family. As enough inspiration as that might be, that notion simply sells Sean short. Nearly all rock made since 1970 or so owes some sort of debt to the Beatles, but this band draws from other creative sources, as the Barrett cover makes abundantly clear.

The other takeaway from this live-in-the-radio-studio performance? As tangled as their sonic tapestry sounds on Midnight Sun, the Ghost of A Saber Tooth Tiger can convincingly take that show on the road. See dates and places below to find out when they take it to your locale.

Monday 5/5/14 – U Hall, Washington, DC (w/ Jeffrey Lewis)
Wednesday 5/7/14 – Terminal West, Atlanta, GA (w/ BRONCHO)
Thursday 5/8/14 – One Eyed Jacks, New Orleans, LA (w/ M. Ward)
Friday 5/9/14 – Club Dada, Dallas, TX (w/ BRONCHO)
Saturday 5/10/14 – ACM @ UCA Lab, Oklahoma City, OK (w/ BRONCHO)
Monday 5/12/14 – Red 7, Austin, TX (w/ BRONCHO)
Wednesday 5/14/14 – Club Congress, Tuscon, AZ (w/ Fever The Ghost)
Thursday 5/15/14 – Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix, AZ (w/ Fever The Ghost)
Friday 5/16/14 – Casbah, San Diego, CA (w/ Fever The Ghost)
Saturday 5/17/14 – El Rey, Los Angeles, CA (w/ Fever The Ghost)
Tuesday 5/20/14 – GAMH, San Francisco, CA (w/ Syd Arthur)
Thursday 5/22/14 – The Crocodile, Seattle, WA (w/ Syd Arthur)
Friday 5/23/14 – The Imperial, Vancouver, BC (w/ Syd Arthur)
Saturday 5/24/14 – Mississippi Studios, Portland, OR (w/ Syd Arthur)
Tuesday 5/27/14 – Bluebird, Denver, CO (w/ Syd Arthur)
Wednesday 5/28/14 – Waiting Room, Omaha, NE (w/ Syd Arthur)
Thursday 5/29/14 – Wooly’s, Des Moines, IA (w/ Syd Arthur)
Friday 5/30/14 – 7th Street Entry, Minneapolis, MN (w/ Syd Arthur)
Saturday 5/31/14 – High Noon Saloon, Madison, WI (w/ Syd Arthur)
Sunday 6/1/14 – Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL (w/ Syd Arthur)
Tuesday 6/3/14 – The Hoxton, Toronto, ON (w/ Syd Arthur)
Wednesday 6/4/14 – La Sala Rossa, Montreal, QC (w/ Syd Arthur)
Thursday 6/5/14 – Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY (w/ Syd Arthur)
Friday 6/6/14 – Johnny Brenda’s, Philadelphia, PA (w/ Syd Arthur)
Saturday 6/7/14 – Brighton Music Hall, Boston, MA (w/ Syd Arthur)
Sunday 6/8/14 – Mountain Jam Festival, Hunter, NY

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is a CPA and mid-level data analyst for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. Contact him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews.com.