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serene desire

1970 serene desire
 
 
serene desire is the fourth album by Tèxord based rock band bad medecine. It is the first album they recorded outside their hometown, as it was done in New York. It is the first album that features Bello on drums and Matthew N’Debe on guitars. The record was released in the spring of 1970 and confirmed the bands potential. Following the album, the band would travel the world continuously till their dismanding in 1974.
 

Songs

 
1. [3.22]  lady [beeldhouwer/beeldhouwer, n’debe, k]  
2. [4.47]  her naked ankle [k/k] 
3. [5.21]  anaconda [k/k, n’debe]     
4. [7.53]  observing the rain [with foreigners and nomads] [n’debe/k, n’debe]
 
5. [6.17]  serene desire [n’debe/k, n’debe, beeldhouwer]
6. [4.33]  after this [k/k, beeldhouwer, bello, n’debe] 
7. [3.11]  last night [k/k, laverre]  
8. [7.06]  it’s all about the music [k/n’debe, k]  
 

Credits


Papa Beer : vocals + guitars
Bobby Beeldhouwer : bass
Bello : drums
Matt N’Debe : guitars + moog synths
 
Lead vocals on “lady” by Bobby B
Spoken words on “serene desire” by Matt N’Debe
Vocals on “last night” by Lisa Laverre and Papa Beer
 
Recorded at the NY, January - February 1970
Produced by Matt N’Debe
Engineered by Bill Cooper and Richard Podolor
Mixed at the NY, 1970
Released at Myzelf music inc. March 1970
 

Background


The band, with new drummer Bello, began their journey of the US in New York which turned out harder than they thought without a proper management. Soon they met Matthew N’Debe, who showed them around the city, fixed them gigs and shelter at friends. Matt had already had success with his own bands and introduced Papa Beer to the literary works of Kerouac and Burroughs, but also the music of the Stooges and the Doors. The first month or so, bad medecine rehearsed a lot with their new drummer and they invited Matt to join the group.
 
The change of environment inspired the guys so much, they wanted to record an album before going on tour. They decided to record an album as a quartet and whilst it was being mixed and pressed, they went on holidays to Jamaica. Matthew was a Jamaican and on the island, both Bobby and Papa Beer converted to rastafari religion. Both guys had (partly) African roots and tensions between ethnicities had recently been playing up a lot.


Writing and composition

 
The album was recorded over a period of five weeks in New York. One song is by Bobby, the others mostly by Papa Beer but also Matt had come up with some songs. The songs are a lot less bluesy than previous albums. Matt introduced a more modern approach of guitar playing and Bello’s drumming was slightly more sophisticated than his cousin Piet’s. The lyrics speak of love, but also the adventures in their new city.

 
Artwork

The front sleeve is a painting of one of Matt’s friends, which inspired Papa Beer of writing ‘anaconda’. On the back of the sleeve is a picture of the quartet, sitting on a bench on a desolate platform on the underground. Papa Beer, who’d let his goatee grow, wears a hat, as he always did on stage, a colourful shirt with psychedelic patterns and flared jeans with holes in. Bobby’s wearing an afro and a blue suit without tie. Bello wore his hair as the Beatles and had a white t-shirt and black jeans, Matt had dreadlocks and wore a suit with outrageous prints. The inside sleeve has all the lyrics pressed on yellow paper in the handwriting of the one writer.

 
Tour

Following the recordings, they drove out to the south followed by a group of hippies. Papa Beer and Bobby were used to driving in a van or with a couple of other bands, but now they had a couple of trucks and didn’t need to drive themselves. From New York, they started out as four musicians and a handful of technicians, followed by friends of Matt. Soon they were joined by people who liked their music, wanted to travel and a small caravan emerged.
 
They would settle their trucks in parks throughout the East coast, use two or three trailers as a stage and the others for their backstage. Then, they would invite local groups to play in the afternoons and they played a two hour sets in the evening. By the time they’d reached the West coast, they were about a hundred people. Lectures were given, clothes and paintings were made, money was raised for food and drinks. Also, there was a lot of weed and lsd going on, free sex and wild parties but overall the caravan was calm and didn’t hurt local economies. They hung handmade posters in the cities they visited calling their circus the ‘nomad homads’.

 
Promotion and release


After the success of the single ‘bad medecine’, the band strangely decided to release no singles to leave it to the radios themselves to decide which songs they wanted to have played. It turned out to be a terrible marketing plan in the commercial way, but the popularity of the band did grow intensely. The album received very positive critics for the combination of pop music, old bluesy howls and artistic lyrics. The lack of singles gave them little interviews on TV, which didn’t really bother the group as they were travelling through all the States anyhow.
 
The summer of 1970 was spend on the West Coast and afterwards the group was invited to Cuba, went on to Paramaribo & followed their tour in South America. Their trucks were shipped to Australia in December, while they flew via Europe to do some massive gigs in stadiums and Japan before being reunited with their gear in Melbourne. They only travelled Australia for three weeks, before moving to Malaysia and India. They planned to tour through the whole of Asia, but Vietnam was no go so they stayed two months in India, where they hardly played but wrote a lot of music.
 
Their idea of touring the world with the convoy had worked in the Americas, but Asia turned out to be nearly impossible. The hippie ideology was hardly present in the continent, but they didn’t want to give up easily so the quartet decided to drive back all the way to Europe, through Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. By the time they arrived in Europe, it was the fall of 1971.
 

Critical reception

 
In a contemporary review for Rolling Stone Magazine, music critic Stephen Holden wrote that  “There is not one songs on ‘serene desire’ that is not a good song, but somewhere there lacks coherence or confidence. It looks like the gentlemen cannot decide if they want to be Howlin’ Wolf or Deep Purple. At the same time, it is overwhelming if we realize that all these sounds are produced by four guys, all under twenty-one. It is clear they have travelled already and gained some experience. We can expect a lot of good things from these European youngsters.”

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