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    Saturday, July 4, 2015

    Fraction - Moon Blood 1971 / The Holy Grail Of Christian Rock Psych

    Heavy Psych mega monster of the best quality imaginable. This is a $2000 mega rarity. It's been said to be the album The Doors had wished they had recorded. If you take The Doors and a way wasted beyond belief Jim Morrisson sounding vocalist and some heavy duty amplification and a dark eerie vibe of say Iron Butterfly or Black Sabbaths debut you will be close to what this monster is all about. Strange apocalyptic lyrics (virtually indecipherable without the lyric sheet) that are not your typical Christian fare by any means. 

    There are very few albums in the psych/punk/hard rock/private presses strata that garner the sort of universal awe and accolades that Fraction’s almighty Moonblood LP does, and even fewer records in the world that could be dubbed ‘Christian Rock’ incur such fierce devotion. Indeed some records just meteorically lift themselves out any genre tag with brilliance and sheer defiance–and Moonblood is surely one of them.
    Robert Meinel: Rhythm Guitar

    Based in LA, Fraction was a ragged collection of working-class musicians–the line-up was ringleader Jim Beach–vocals; Don Swanson–lead guitar, Curt Swanson–drums, Victor Hemme–bass, and Robert Meinel–rhythm guitar. Beach himself describes those early days: “The guys met through various acquaintances that we had in LA. All of us had been in bands before, but were seeking something with more teeth. We had a small studio in an industrial complex in North Hollywood and started practicing sometimes as early as 4:30 AM. We all had day jobs, so we did what we could.” Amazingly the recording sessions for the album were recorded similarly on the fly, as Beach further states: “The Moonblood recording took place at Whitney’s Studio in Glendale, CA, early in 1971. On a strict budget, these songs were recorded in less than three hours””all of them “one takes.” at the Whitney Recording Studio in Glendale California back in 1971, and released on a tiny Christian music label named Angelus. We played, all 5 of us, simultaneously– there were no studio effects, no overdubbing or any additional sound effects added. Basically what you hear is considered ‘old school’ recording.”

    This workmanlike description in no way prepares one for the pure tortured genius the session wrought. Particularly noteworthy is Beach’s vocals””as commonly stated, the spirit of Jim Morrison is conjured in his deep baritone, which gives way to unparalleled pained howls, at times bathed in delay which trails into the abyss. Fascinatingly enough, Beach cites the much punker Love as his fave LA band over the Doors, and also gives influence-nods to proto-everything rockers The Yardbirds and to Dylan, whose dark word tapestries surely inspired Beach’s lyrics (though lines from The Doors’ “L’America” pop up on the LP) Whatever the case, the man clearly has a vision, as even the stark sleeve concept is Beach’s own.

    Equally as integral to the Fraction sound is lead guitarist Don Swanson””his blown-out fuzz riffs set a template for what is now commonly known as “stoner rock” or “acid punk,” and his solos consist of jagged, wah-wah-ed shards of notes, with his amplifier clearly pushed to the limit. Beach says: “Don’s guitar was always my driving force and he did everything he could to keep it over the top. You’d never know that (his sound) was coming from an old, broken down Esquire. Don kept it alive!” The other members contributions shouldn’t be underappreciated though– drummer Curt Swanson keeps things at a constant simmer, and then boils over when the whole band launches into snarling glory. The band and LP as a whole equals something indescribably intense from start to finish””comparisons to the Detroit late 60s high-energy bands like The Stooges and MC5 abound, as well as the sort of late 60s damaged spirit lurking in biker clubs and disgruntled Vietnam vets. The song cycle on side 1 of the LP in particular cuts to the emotional core, with severely charged dark lyrics like “Extend your thumbs and burn the darkness out of her.”

    Assembly line production of the Fraction reissue, handmade with love at the Mexican Summer headquarters.
    After numerous bootlegs over the years, an official reissue with a bonus 10-inch disc has been issued through Mexican Summer. More people probably hear Fraction on one day in 2012 than did during their entire run in the early 70s. It was even playing as I walked into a bar in Helsinki last year.

    An original Fraction Moonblood LP, with the red celophane covered moon emblem album cover still in-tact, with a mint LP, is worth about $3500+ depending on how bad the collector wants it.

    This is generally considered the Holy Grail of all Christian psychedelic rock LPs. 

    Guitarist Don Swanson passed away in May 2013, Jim Beach reported on May 26, 2013 via facebook: "Don Swanson passed this week; One of music's Most creative and forceful guitar players, ever. He was a loyal friend and influenced most everything I ever sang. I will miss him dearly; Until we play again. Don God speed!"

    FRACTION MEMBERS:
    • Jim Beach: Lead Vocals
    • Don Swanson: Lead Guitar
    • Curt Swanson: Percusion
    • Victor Hemme: Bass Guitar
    • Robert Meinel: Rhythm Guitar 
    Mike Hodges: Cover Artist






    1971 Original Version:


    1. Sanc Divided - 3:52
    2. Come Out of Her - 4:57
    3. Eye Of The Hurricane - 8:55
    4. Sons Come To Birth - 5:26
    5. This Bird  - 4:38
    6. Sky High - 3:24








    CD Version
    1. Sanc Divided - 3:53
    2. Come Out of Her - 5:02
    3. Eye Of The Hurricane - 9:07
    4. Sons Come To Birth - 5:32
    5. This Bird (Sky High) - 8:16
    6. Prisms - 4:23
    7. Dawning Light - 4:40
    8. Intercessor's Blues - 3:58
    Bonus Tracks 6-8







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    Item Reviewed: Fraction - Moon Blood 1971 / The Holy Grail Of Christian Rock Psych Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Anthony Martinez
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