Randy Holden – Population II

Riding Easy went all in on the reissue of this solo LP from Randy Holden — a heavy hitter to be sure, though more beholden to the riff than the hook. With no less than five versions of the LP, they seek to assert its classic status. In this light, Holden is held up as being from Blue Cheer, and to be sure he was in Blue Cheer for about an album, playing on their ’69 LP New! Improved! Blue Cheer, in the expanded lineup that attempted to improve upon the perfection of the band’s Vincebus Eruptum from the previous year. While this BC album is well produced, it fails to capitalize on the lighting strike that tore through VE, melding garage to a sludge that would become metal in years to come. Though I might more accurately give Holden the edge for helming guitar duties in The Other Half rather than Blue Cheer, if pressed on his legacy. In that outfit he cut blues with a rusty hacksaw, aiming for psychedelia, but coming up just short of a full trip. Population II splits the difference between his previous endeavors, thickening the stew with the classic sludge of Blue Cheer, but adding in a good dose of the ragged soul of The Other Half.

What’s been said here is that Holden hit on Doom before Doom existed, and sure there’s a certain sense of foreboding dread in some of the passages here, but in the same year Sabbath would scare the shit out of anyone holding this up as Doom’s genesis. That’s not to say that Population II doesn’t have a heavy whollop… it does. Holden claims this was never officially released, but Hobbit, who also released Saphire Thinkers alongside a few other collector’s fodder like Rockin’ Foo and Plain Jane around the same two year span seems to have obtained a tape to press. The label reeks of tax shelter ethics, so its certainly possible that they scooped this one up without too much official insight. The record’s been bootlegged endlessly in the interim but Riding Easy give it the royal treatment, returning Holden’s debut to a platform that might warrant his live legacy. The metal merchants and the sludge huffers gonna love this if they don’t already have it, so dig in.




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