Kronomyth 1.0: SIC TRANSIT GLORIA. Frank Zappa wasn’t kidding; there really were people who moved to San Francisco, started a band, rented a house on Haight-Ashbury and smoked an awful lot of dope. That formula paid off for Mount Rushmore, who managed to score some high-profile gigs in the area and, soon after, a record contract with Dot Records. Their first album, High On Mount Rushmore, was produced by Ray Ruff (Time Out! Time In For Them) and featured middling psychedelic blues-rock that went largely ignored at the time and has only been resurrected in the wake of a resurgent interest in psychedelic rock. As an artifact of the times, High On Mount Rushmore holds some interest for musical archaeologists. You have the white hippie heist of Jimi Hendrix’ “Stone Free,” which became the band’s only single, a genuine psychedelic epic (“Looking Back”) that represents the height of Mount Rushmore’s achievement here and a few songs that capture the band’s live energy in the studio (“Ocean,” “She’s So Good To Me”). Among the psychedelic rock records made in the Sixties, High on Mount Rushmore wouldn’t be high on my list. Mount Rushmore were in the right place at the right time, and Dot Records was a country music label (not an astute connoisseur of psychedelia) looking to take a flyer on the latest musical trend. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to learn that the label pushed the band to record “Stone Free,” since the band doesn’t seem to have given their arrangement of it much thought. In mounting a defense of the band, they had undergone significant changes in their short history; Glenn Smith and Mike Bolan were recent additions, and they were still playing material from their original lead guitarist, Warren Phillips. In that context, High On Mount Rushmore is better viewed as the demo tape of a band in transition.
Kronomyth 2.0: TAKEN FOR GRANITE. Mount Rushmore’s second, final album doesn’t audibly improve on the formula of the first. It’s psychedelic blues rock played with some measure of competence but not enough personality. Mike Bolan is a decent guitarist, and there are moments when the band flashes some instrumental chops (“Toe Jam,” “Love Is The Reason”), just not enough of those moments to justify forty minutes of your time. Producer Ray Ruff doesn’t do the band any favors; the production is downright listless in spots (“10:09 Blues,” “I’m Comin’ Home”). The group still continues to struggle with writing their own material, digging back to the original lineup’s repertoire for two tracks and taking Mose Allison’s “V-8 Ford Blues” for a spin. The originals from Glen Smith aren’t very (original), constituting standard blues exercises. I will tell you, “10:09 Blues” is a slow train comin’. Cream, Hendrix, The Doors and The Paul Butterfield Blues Band could run rings around Rushmore. Their first record was a little more exciting and had the benefit of choosing from the cream of the band’s live repertoire. Leftovers like “King of Earrings” and “Love Is The Reason” are laughably bad in spots. While it would seem the band’s demise was premature, Mount Rushmore was never destined for great things. There must be a dozen bands from the era that warrant the archaeological interest more than Mount Rushmore. If you’ve dug that deep and still haven’t reached bottom, then feel stone free to take a peak at Rushmore’s twin monuments—unless, that is, you don’t believe in statues.