Randy Holden — Population II
In 1970, the year after Randy Holden left Blue Cheer, already a veteran of psychedelic punk groups the Other Half (Mr. Pharmacist y’all) and the Sons of Adam, he set up shop in a rented opera house with Chris Lockheed of Kak and a Berlin Wall of Sunn amplifiers and created a monolith to HEAVY, Population II.
1970 must’ve been a good year for HEAVY jams with debuts by Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Population II is not heavy in a Robert Johnson, Dylan lyric or Skip Spence’s great motorcycle ride into insanity kind of way. This music is HEAVY like the stuff that built the pyramids or, at least, like, “Do we really have to lift all these gotdamn amps onto the fucking opera house stage? These motherfuckers are HEAVY!!!!” kinda way. Population II is a genius piece of work, not for what it does, but what it doesn’t do. One of the tunes, Fruit & Icebergs, was on his last record with Blue Cheer The New and Improved, on Population II he plays it twice. Randy Holden fancies himself a Guitar God although on Population II, long instrumental passages consist of him seemingly playing the bare minimum… bent note blues squawks, prolonged feedback drones and primitve whammy bar are typical. The lyrics aim to be deeply profound, but mainly are just profoundly un-deep… lot’s of stuff about how he loves the sound of electric guitar (uh, no shit, Randy), but always delivered with strength, conviction and a reverb tank the size of a swimming pool.
Population II is often referred to as proto-metal, but I say proto-HEAVY… I am obsessed with HEAVY… the more, the better. In fact,while I’m at it… let me go so far as to say… not to be morbid here… but, if my last days should find me in a hospital bed hooked up to a morphine drip, somebody please bring me headphones and a copy of Sleep’s Dopesmoker to be played on repeat for the boat ride to Valhalla and the Great HEAVY on High… I would appreciate that.