The SugarHill Gang, from left: Fever Tree's Rob Landis, Radio Birdman's Dennis Tek, engineer Andy Bradley, Tyson Steth, Kenny Cordray and Dust Peterson
Photos by Chris Gray
Watching musicians in the studio is like watching meat processors make sausage: it's tedious and there's lots of blood. But it's worth it to watch the innards of one of the all-time classic Houston psychedelic songs, Fever Tree's "San Francisco Girls" (1968), get ripped out and put back together. (Check out the original here.)
Yesterday, Rocks Off had the pleasure of sitting in at SugarHill Studios while an ad hoc supergroup recorded "San Francisco Girls" for a compilation CD that will accompany next year's SugarHill book by Dr. Roger Wood and SugarHill owner/engineer Andy Bradley.
"It was just fun to do a classic Houston, Texas anthem," Bradley says. "Although the original wasn't recorded here, all these guys have recorded here throughout their careers."
Rehearsing "San Francisco Girls"
Video by Chris Gray
Besides original Fever Tree keyboardist Rob Landis, now a jazz musician in his eponymous local trio, the band included former Radio Birdman frontman Dennis Tek and his bassist friend Dust Peterson - a most excellently named fellow who flies planes for Southwest Airlines when not holding down the low end - and top Sugar Hill session players Kenny Cordray (guitar) and Tyson Sheth (drums).
"San Francisco Girls," says Bradley, "was one of the original anthems of Haight-Ashbury, but most people don't know it's by a Houston band, not a California band."
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Tek and Peterson are in town remixing a Radio Birdman live disc Bradley recorded at the Australian surf-punks' Houston and Austin shows last year, which will be the since-disbanded group's final release. Earlier Tuesday, the one-off band cut the Thirteenth Floor Elevators' "You're Gonna Miss Me," also for the SugarHill compilation.
"Radio Birdman used to do a killer version of 'You're Gonna Miss Me,'" says Bradley, who met Tek as a Birdman roadie Down Under in 1976. "They did it twice as fast as the original."
"Well... maybe not twice as fast." - Chris Gray