Drywater – Backbone of the Nation (2017)

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For the past 20 years, the Gear Fab label has been reviving obscure discs from the late ’60s and early ’70s, and one of the Colorado based imprint’s most recent endeavors is Backbone of the Nation by Drywater.

Hailing from the Northeastern region of Pennsylvania, Drywater entered a local studio in September 1973 to wax what would be their lone album. Pressed on the RPC label, Backbone of the Nation was recorded in a mere three hours for the unbelievably low cost of $100. Only 25 copies of the platter were cut, making it a real rarity.

Sounding like nothing happening on the airwaves, or even in underground music circles at the hour it was created, Backbone of the Nation was either several years behind or a few years ahead of its time. Both the performance and production are wildly primitive, firing off remnants of scruffy garage rock as well as futuristic punk impressions. Toss in some folk pop and country and western numbers, and Drywater’s Backbone of the Nation is indeed an eclectic and eccentric affair.

Aside from following their own rules, Drywater deserves additional applause for including all original material on their album. The band was certainly motivated, and had energy to spare. There’s enough curious and interesting hooks and tempos here to keep the listener alert, not to mention hissing fuzz guitar pickings to please axe afficianados.

The title track of the recording features a catchy chorus, shouting “backbone of the nation,” amid heavy riffing and chugging drums, and “The Stones You Throw” carries a spookily enigmatic vibe. Another notable Drywater tune is “Airplane Rider,” which lopes along to a raw repetitive rhythm.

I suppose the closest comparisons to Drywater’s Backbone of the Nation would be to imagine Buffalo Springfield or America minus the polish and professionalism. There’s a definite charm to this record, which promotes the true spirit of not only rock music, but music in general.

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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