allmusic: Original Recordings was Dan Hicks' initial solo effort as well as the debut of his "Hot Licks." Unlike the overamplified electric jug band music that the Charlatans had been creating during Hicks' stint as their drummer and occasional vocalist, this new band performed a refreshing blend of jazz swing with country & western. Their understated performance style stood in stark contrast to the burgeoning heavy metal and acid rock that were en vogue as the '60s became the '70s. Featured on this album is a seminal version of the "Hot Licks" that were only together briefly. Included are John Weber (guitar) and Terry Wilson (drums) as well as vocalists Tina Viola Gancher and Sherry Snow. Both Sid Page (violin/vocals) and Jaime Leopold (acoustic bass) would remain with Hicks (guitar/vocals/spoken word) as core members of the band. Of the 11 original compositions on this disc, "How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away" followed Hicks from the Charlatans, while "Canned Music," "I Scare Myself," and "Shorty Falls in Love" would be slightly reworked for their inclusion on the upcoming long-players Where's the Money? and Striking It Rich, respectively. Perhaps because of Hicks' background as a drummer, his sense of timing is a key element to his deceptively complex melodies. Likewise, this has a great deal to do with the success of the call-and-response vocals between Hicks and the female background vocalists he would dub "the Lickettes." Within these pastoral melodies and slightly askew lyrics is the somewhat out-of-sync and acid-tinged "It's Bad Grammar, Baby." In retrospect, the prominently distorted acoustic guitar lead overwhelms the track -- which would have otherwise fit nicely within the context of the remainder of the album. This might have had something to do with it being conspicuously left off the 2001 Sony/Legacy reissue Canned Music: The Most of Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks. Those who can locate a copy of these Original Recordings are urged to do so. For Hicks-ophiles or Dan-ophites, it is a vital entry into his canon. ~ Lindsay Planner
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Fankhauser formed this band after the demise of Fapardokly. Cotton and Willey had earlier played with Fankhauser in The Exiles. Mu initially lived on a half acre estate in Canoga Park, California and were heavily into meditation and vegetarianism. Their debut album, recorded on a small Beverly Hills label, was both inventive and imaginative.
After Willey's departure the remaining trio moved to the island of Maui in Hawaii in 1974, where they recorded two singles for their own Mu label and, with the additional of Mary Lee, a second album, which was shelved when they split up. In 1981 Fankhauser remixed it, added two singles, and it was released in Italy.
Many other tapes of Mu exist and Children Of The Rainbow is an excellent album of material recorded live on Maui in 1974. It's full of well-structured, often mystical songs and also includes some tasty laid back guitar work from Fankhauser and Jeff Cotton (who later played with Captain Beefheart). It also features a brief interview of the band by Lew Irwin.
Fankhauser, one of the West Coast's most interesting musicians, went on to make three solo albums, including one in 1976 (Maui M 101) and Mary Lee continued to play in his band. Parker remained in Hawaii, where he purchased an orchid plantation and Wimer became a youth counsellor in Los Angeles.
Like all of Fankhauser's bands, Mu were interesting and worth investigation. ~ (Vernon Joynson/Chris Williams)
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