3 out of 5 stars
San Francisco’s Mother Hips seem to garner more attention in retrospect than they generally do with their regular releases. When the four disc rarities compilation Days of Sun and Grass made its belated appearance in 2011, it went a long way towards introducing the masses to the band’s backstory, a feat that had yet to be accomplished by the group’s earlier official LPs.
Consequently, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether Chronicle Man, yet another collection of heretofore unreleased recordings, might be that perfect primer for the uninitiated. If nothing else, its mix of vague psychedelia and a ‘60s sensibility should provide enough incentive for anyone with an appreciation for those frequent retro references to consider getting on board.
Moby Grape, the Beau Brummels and Buffalo Springfield immediately come to mind in Mother Hips’ music, but it’s also the seamless harmonies, insistent grooves and over-all sense of rock reliability that provide plenty of potential to instill a quick connection.
Credit archivist and super fan David Dolger Schwartz for rescuing the eleven songs contained herein from the lying fallow in the vaults, and for also having the persistence needed to convince the group to finally consent to their release. It was clearly a wise decision, and with only a couple of exceptions, any one of these tracks might have fit neatly on any of the official Hips album for which they originally intended. Songs such as “Desert Song,” “Rich Little Girl” and “You Can’t Win” clearly bolster the accessibility factor, thanks to a sweeping sound that all but begs immediate engagement.
As a result, these “Other Hips” (the nickname Schwartz dreamed up to describe these rarities) were well worth reviving. Ultimately, that makes the aptly dubbed Chronicle Man not only an ideal introduction for the novice, but an essential acquisition for the faithful as well.