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The Patron Saints' Proto Bohob CD cover.
The Patron Saints' Proto Bohob CD cover.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the patron saints: proto bohob
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The 30th anniversary of the Patron Saints' Fohhoh Bohob came up in July of 1999. To commemorate this, Patron Saint Records released a limited-edition CD entitled Proto Bohob, which contains early Patron Saint versions and original demos of all of the songs which appeared on the original Fohhoh Bohob release. You can check out the track listing here. Over the years, collectors and Bohob lovers have often asked me if there were any other recordings from that period. Well, amazingly, there were versions of every Bohob song in various stages of creation floating around my tape archives. The different tape decks used for recording these tracks initially varied widely in terms of fidelity and reliability (what else is new), but the sound still holds up remarkably well, all things considered.

Fohhoh Bohob globe.I set up the track sequence on the new CD so that it's exactly the same as the original LP. In many ways, Proto Bohob is much lighter, sweetness replacing the darker edge of it's illustrious predecessor. It's more positive, relaxed, spontaneous and, yes, more innocent (if that's possible). I feel that the versions of my songs on Proto Bohob convey where my head was at the time more accurately than the "produced" final LP cuts. I'll bet Jon would concur concerning his, as well.

The back of the Patron Saints' Proto Bohob CD.
The back of the Patron Saints' Proto Bohob CD.

So how do you package a prototype like this and still keep the flavor of the original? With authentic artwork and graphics, of course! The cover drawing was created by Jon Tuttle in early 1969 as a possible concept for the original Bohob LP (you can compare the two here); the background for the cover (and for everything else in the package, for that matter) is a scanned version of the actual black contact paper that was to be used for the cover of the original Fohhob Bohob "libretto" until the cost of the printing process reared it's ugly head. When I wrote the following liner notes for Proto Bohob, I  incorporated Jon's 1969 comments (in italics, below) on the recording:

Thirty years ago, three aspiring teenage rockers from the suburbs of New York City, Eric Bergman, Jon Tuttle and Paul D’Alton, decided to record an album of their own material. In a living room. They were told, of course, that such a proposition was idiotic...nothing would ever come of it! Undeterred, the boys, aptly named The Patron Saints, set up their ersatz recording studio and, using only two consumer-grade reel-to-reel tape decks and a collection of borrowed microphones, proceeded to spend about three weeks creating their home-grown "masterpiece." When they had finished it (after having to borrow money from various parents to get 100 albums pressed), they kept a few copies for themselves, used some for promotional purposes (that was the point after all, wasn’t it?), and ultimately gave away the rest, often indiscriminately.

Not a bad idea, as it turned out. Over the next 20 or so years, as the resulting LP Fohhoh Bohob somehow found its way into international consciousness, it became one of the most highly regarded and sought-after independently-released albums ever produced, often commanding huge sums of money for an original copy. The demand for this album was so great, in fact, that European bootlegs began surfacing. Patron Saint Records released a legitimate reissue using the original master tapes and artwork (with two additional bonus tracks on a 7" single) in late 1997, immediately followed by a CD version (with yet another bonus track). Fans just can’t seem to get enough of Fohhoh Bohob.

Which brings us to the CD you’re holding.

In the early months of 1969, The Patron Saints laid down various demo versions of all of the songs which ultimately appeared on Fohhoh Bohob, planning to use the tape for "getting a recording contract." Well, that never happened, but these prototype Bohob tracks have somehow managed to survive over the years, and are presented here for the first time. Jon Tuttle’s 1969 notes for the sessions sum up the situation:

Some general comments on this recording...

All material heard on this tape is original. The bulk of these recordings were done in a single 20-hour session and had to be arranged, practiced, performed, recorded, mixed and dubbed by three persons incorporating modest and occasionally faulty equipment. Hence, since not many takes of each track were possible, the technical flaws are plentiful and diverse. The raw essentials of each song can nevertheless be perceived through the maze of aberrations.

As far as the music itself is concerned, Mr. Bergman’s music is characterized by simplicity and a gratifying lack of affectation, while his lyrics examine basic humanity, sometimes colorfully, sometimes brutally, but all well. My own songs are usually experiments in progressions and harmony, while my lyrics steadfastly plead for fulfillment and joy.

We hope you enjoy our first effort.

This collection not only includes the Patron Saint prototypes, but a number of the original song demos as well. If you’re a lover of Fohhoh Bohob, we trust you will enjoy these baby "pictures."

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