Nil Desperandum



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Original copies from 1971 of this private press release by this obscure Texas late night psych rock band. Some acid fuzz guitars, organ, mandolin, autoharp, pedal steel, bass, drums and male vocals, overall, they’re more of a rock band, with some psych and roots rock touches.

All copies in original shrink, although on some that shrink has come apart, shredded, or opened up. The LP saw scant distribution outside of the Houston area, but is now a solid, sought after collector’s item.

‘Man From Barnaby’ has lots of backwards swirling guitar; ‘Kitty Is A Lady’ has a hint of Buffalo Springfield and ‘Family Comfort’ goes further down that trail, being an acoustic piece with some nice fuzztone leads added. ‘The Great Rio Grande Border Run’ is an acoustic-led Texan hoedown-type affair with whoops, yee-hahs and ‘rattlesnake’ maracas, which can be quite compelling, as it goes. ‘Better Way’ is a straight rocker, reminiscent of Moby Grape and with a suitably tasty guitar break. On side two, we get ‘The Trilogy’, which is essentially 3 different tracks run together as one long 12-minute piece. It starts out with some John Cipollina-ish guitar, which leads into a Springfield-ish ballad (‘Do You Believe In Words?’), then a vibrant acoustic guitar passage which winds up in a clap-your-hands sing-a-long (‘Sing Together’), followed by a mellow, melodic harmony piece called ‘Relax (Enjoy Your Friends’). Interesting stuff.

“On their 1971 debut, Nil Desperandum, Deerfield occasionally show the vaguest hints of heaviness — white-lightning guitar runs, for instance — but mostly follow a decidedly divergent path, one that emphasizes a laid-back charm and textured group harmonies. The album is a smiling, fresh-faced effort, permeated by a good-time communal vibe so full of country goodwill that it melts away any possibility for cynicism. While Nil Desperandum is without question a rock & roll album, roots music is an important formative influence on the record — and not just the normal, blues-based infatuation most of Deerfield’s Lone Star peers favored. Its rootsy amalgam strongly recalls the Grateful Dead, and, indeed, there are strong strains of Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty on the loping title track, the effervescent ‘Kitty Is a Lady,’ and ‘Me Lovin’ You’ that rarely sound like affectations. Sunny, CSNY/America-like harmonies pop up on occasion, and there are fingerprints of Buffalo Springfield all over the songwriting. Many of their contemporaries couldn’t shoehorn such overt influences into a personal hybrid, but there’s something singularly appealing about Deerfield’s music.”