For this week’s Free Basin’ Fridays, we’re shining a spotlight on one of our favorite new labels, Paradise of Bachelors, and their latest release, the first-ever reissue of the sole eponymous album by Willie French Lowery’s interracial swamp-psych band Plant and See. We first got a sneak peek at this release last year when we profiled PoB on the blog and holding the LP in our hands today, it was clearly worth the wait.
Originally released in 1969 on L.A. label White Whale—home of Jim Ford, the Turtles, and the Rockets—Plant and See is the strange fruit of disparate people, places, and players in dialogue. Its humid, storm-cloud guitars, ductile vocal harmonies, and intuitive, loose-limbed drumming are redolent of a specifically Southern syncretic musical identity and sense of place, testifying to the outstanding, colorblind musicianship of Lowery, African American drummer Forris Fulford, Latino bassist Ron Seiger, and Scotch-Irish backup vocalist Carol Fitzgerald.
American Indian frontman Willie Lowery (who sadly passed away this year) grew up in swamp-laced, tri-racial Robeson County, North Carolina, the state’s geographically largest, economically poorest, and most ethnically diverse county. Shaped by his own Lumbee Indian heritage as well as the influence of local African American and European American musical traditions, Lowery’s style developed into a powerful, singularly soulful sound that appealed to contemporary psych-rock audiences while directly addressing the concerns of his own Indian community. Plant and See represents his first major recorded work, following stints playing for the “hootchie-cootchie women” of a traveling carnival and the lite-psych group Corporate Image, as well as serving as Clyde McPhatter’s bandleader.
Reissued here for the first time in a limited pressing of 1,000 copies, Plant and See features newly remastered audio, restored artwork on a deluxe “tip-on” jacket and new liner notes by Lumbee historian and folklorist Jefferson Currie II. You can order a copy now here, or for your chance to cop one for free, leave a comment below. Winner will be announced next Friday, July 13 at 12pm PST.