Fresh Air – Friends: The Lost & Found Album (self-released) CD
Fresh Air was a Southern California country-rock band who made an album for Columbia in 1973. Based in Ventura County, the group included guitarist/songwriter Pat Flynn of Yellow Hand, whose story we featured in UT#56. Flynn and bassist-turned-steel guitar player Colin Kyffin had previously played together in California Grassfield, whose story was covered in the same article.
Suffering from cabin fever during the Covid lockdown, Flynn was cleaning out his office and came across a couple of long forgotten reels of tape. They turned out to be Fresh Air demos from 1973-74, songs they’d been working on for a possible follow-up album. “I was, in a moment, transported to a specific time and
place long ago and placed back among a beloved band of brothers,” says Flynn. The songs were recorded in Phoenix, Arizona, at the home studio of singer-songwriter George Place. Place was not actually a member of Fresh Air, more of a friend and mentor, but he’s very much in the frame here, writing or co-writing all of the material and singing lead on three songs.
The tapes required a little work before they could be released. “The songs needed a bit of framing and undergirding, musically,” explains Flynn. “The call went out to the original members, who stepped up to add the missing colors. This included adding bass – missing on the original demos – and some percussion, provided by ex-Lone Justice member and prolific session drummer Don Heffington, not long before his 2021 death. These sonic upgrades were all seamlessly accomplished without compromising the feel of the original 1970s recordings.
The album has a laid-back Laurel Canyon living room vibe with Byrds-like harmonies and mostly acoustic instruments. The most memorable songs include “You Touched My Soul,” a harmony-rich country rock ballad with mandolin and subtle pedal steel splashes by lead singer Doug Rommereim; “Mystical Morning,” the catchy, upbeat “I’ve Got A Song To Sing” (co-written with Flynn), and the Byrds-flavored “Ingram’s Island” with Heffington’s percussion adding a tinge of exotica. My personal pick, though, is the dark, haunting “Zen Gabor,” which is a mystical, semi-psychedelic mood courtesy of Flynn’s Coral electric sitar playing and some tabla-like percussion.
For fans of ‘70s vintage Americana – as it’s now called – Fresh Air Friends: the Lost & Found Album is an unexpected treat.