The Rising Storm in the media
♦ Review: Subtle, moody shade of folk rock
“Fans of unknown ’60s psych are always searching for a rare glimpse into an era when any rock combo with a few fans could score enough studio time to immortalize a set of primitives sounds. They’ll get their fix with the Rising Storm’s Calm Before… . This band of six young gents from Massachusetts only pressed 500 LPs in 1967, just as they were graduating prep school. To this day, the album remains one of the most prized garage rock artifacts of all time (a copy sold for $6,500 in 2012).” [From Pandora review of Sundazed reissue of Calm Before by The Rising Storm. Calm Before is available on vinyl and CD from Sundazed Music, and on Apple Music.]
♦ Review: Rare gem — raucous, raw, delicate
“What makes the record so great is how seamlessly this super young band – who were still in high school when they made it– manages to so seamlessly blend raucous garage rock, raw psych, and some surprisingly delicate melodies all in the same set, rivaling far more famous standard bearers of those genres, even though Rising Storm were doing it for fun and were still seniors in high school!
“Includes ‘Don’t Look Back,’ ‘To LN/Who Doesn’t Know,’ ‘I’m Coming Home,’ ‘A Message To Pretty,’ ‘Big Boss Man,’ ‘Mr. Wind,’ ‘The Rain Falls Down,’ ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’ and more. 12 tracks in all.”
♦ Review: Forgotten album that really lives up to the myth-building
“Calm Before commits such unhip-in-’67 crimes as loading up on the soul and blues covers that no longer cut the mustard in the year of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band … This group of high school kids effortlessly transform warhorses like ‘In the Midnight Hour’ and ‘Big Boss Man’ into their own creations … The group surely makes its most halting music when handling its own compositions. [From Psychobabble review of Sundazed reissue of Calm Before by The Rising Storm. To read more, click here. Calm Before is available on vinyl and CD from Sundazed Music, and on Apple Music.]
♦ Review: Incalculably rare…now available on back-to-vinyl
“Impeccable taste…tight harmonies….top-notch instrumentation…This mid 1960s album by a bunch of upper class northeastern schoolboys is better than you might think. Ace covers and surprisingly sturdy original tunes.” [From a review by Bill Kopp for Schoolkids Records’ Blurt. To read more, click here. Calm Before is available on vinyl and CD from Sundazed Music, and on Apple Music.]
♦ The stuff of legend
“One of the true ’60s garage band artefacts … Critically acclaimed … A moody classic … Not bad for a vanity pressing made by a bunch of 17-year-old prep school boys … Fifty years on, The Rising Storm’s naivety, spontaneity and unique haunting melodies define ‘The New England Sound.’ Calm Before is an unpolished yet ambitious curio that has deservedly become a major collectible and a cult classic — one that has led to band reunions and even a forthcoming movie.” [From February 2018 article in Shindig! magazine. To read full article, click here: Shindig 2018.]
♦ Review: Sacred text for garage-rock collectors
Released Jan. 12, 2018/Sundazed Music
“The Rising Storm were six guys attending Phillips Academy, a prep school in Andover, MA, between 1964 and 1967.
“Like lots of high school kids of the era, they figured playing in a rock & roll band would be good fun (and help them meet girls), so they started rocking school dances and mixers, and near the end of their run (which coincided with graduation), they decided to document their musical career by making an album.
“The resulting LP, Calm Before…, became a sacred text among New England garage rock collectors years later, and it’s not hard to see why.
“The Rising Storm often sound like a bunch of high school kids on this album (especially lead singer Tony Thompson, whose vocal range sometimes suggests puberty was still taking hold), but they’re also clearly stronger than the average teen garage band of the era.
“The Rising Storm sound tight and confident throughout Calm Before… while still boasting a potent stock of youthful energy, and while they play their share of covers, the band’s originals are the real high points here.
“‘Frozen Laughter,’ ‘Mr. Wind,’ ‘The Rain Falls Down,’ and ‘To L.N./Who Doesn’t Know’ are moody atmospheric numbers that walk a graceful line between folk-rock and psychedelic, while rockers like ‘She Loved Me’ and ‘I’m Coming Home’ stomp hard while displaying a creative ambition well beyond the usual fuzztone sneer of would-be Rolling Stones.
“Even the covers here are interesting — along with standard garage rock fare like ‘Big Boss Man’ and ‘In the Midnight Hour,’ the Rising Storm tackle Love’s ‘A Message to Pretty’ and the Remains ‘Don’t Look Back,’ and they lay into the relative obscurities with passion and imagination.
“Not many teen groups who financed and pressed their own records had the imagination or the chops of the Rising Storm, and if the results are a few notches down from amazing, in a genre where the best bands rarely cranked out more than four or five good tracks, the Rising Storm made an LP with a dozen worthwhile songs, and it certainly deserves its cult following.”
Review by Apple Music
♦ Boston Globe: The cult band that emerged from a ‘garage’ called Phillips Academy
“The Rising Storm grew out of an impromptu jug band of Andover sophomores, soon teaching each other the guitar licks they taught themselves…But it was the Rising Storm’s handful of dreamlike, sensitive-boy originals, largely inspired by the fantastical West Coast band Love, that set the group apart…On [January 12] the specialty label Sundazed reissues ‘Calm Before,’ the Rising Storm’s self-financed, ultra-rare debut album, recorded during the bandmates’ senior year at Andover.” [From feature story in The Boston Globe, 01.10.18. To read full article, click here.]
♦ New York Times: A Cult Following? My Dad’s Garage-Rock Band Nailed It
“Thanks to vintage record collectors, the Rising Storm, a band that recorded its first album 50 years ago, is reliving a dream that began in prep school.” ” [From feature story in The New York Times, 07.13.17. To read full article, click here.]
♦ Review: One of the most essential albums in ages
The 30 best reissues of 2016/3. Sky Girl (Efficient Space)
“Sky Girl has become one of the most essential albums in ages. The official line is it’s ‘a sentimental journey through folk pop, DIT, new wave and micro presses 1961 to 1991’ but it seems like so much more now. It’s a compilation really like no other and is sure to get you hooked from the get go. It’s compiled by French maestros and selectors DJ Sundae and Julien Dechery. It’s a selection of lost music which now sounds so relevant. It’s a collection of songs which bands would kill for. It’s simply amazing. (The Vinyl Factory magazine)
[The compilation includes “Frozen Laughter” from Calm Before, the 1967 album by The Rising Storm. To buy a copy, click here.]
♦ Review: Unequivocally stunning collection of heartbroken songs
July best reissues/4. Various Artists
Sky Girl: A Sentimental Journey Through Folk Pop, DIY New Wave, & Art Music Micro Presses 1961-1991 (Efficient Space)
“This heartfelt compilation by fledgling Australian label Efficient Space is a true labor of love, an unequivocally stunning collection of heartbroken songs culled from rare private and vanity pressings spanning 30 years. Despite this large window of time, Sky Girl is masterfully sequenced, and eclecticism works in its favor rather than detracting from its delights.” FACT Magazine (June 28 2016)
[The compilation includes “Frozen Laughter” from Calm Before, the 1967 album by The Rising Storm. To buy a copy, click here.]
♦ Review: Controlled frenzy…a thin film of psychedelia
THE RISING STORM “CALM BEFORE…”
“Hardcore fans of unknown 60s psych and garage all search for that taste of magic once committed to rare grooves of vinyl, a glimpse into an era when any rock combo with a few fans could get enough studio time to immortalize a set of their wildest sounds, and with Calm Before, you get the full dosage.
“If you have an original copy of this record, you ought to encase it in 15 sheets of mylar and lock it up in the safe, as garage rock hounds are probably sniffing you down as you read this. Only 500 LPs were pressed in 1967, just as these six young lads from Phillips Academy in Massachusetts were graduating prep school.
“Typically, impossibly rare albums tend to get seriously over-hyped, but not so in this case. Collectors don’t go nuts over this one because it’s so rare, it’s because it’s so good! The Rising Storm rocks with the controlled frenzy of The Remains (even tearing open the album with their explosive ‘Don’t Look Back’), but manage to layer in a thin film of psychedelia. The contemplative original numbers are the real gems on this record. ‘To L.N./Who Doesn’t Know,’ ‘Frozen Laughter,’ and ‘The Rain Falls Down’ are three must-hear folk-tinged treats.
“’Mr. Wind’ with it’s lovely, lilting melody and the rollicking ‘Bright Lit Blue Skies’ were both tunes borrowed from local Boston garage rocker contemporaries, The Rockin’ Ramrods, clearly heroes to the Storm. Another laid back treat is ‘A Message To Pretty,’ a Love cover that proves the musical taste and cool sensibility of these young preps. Simply put, the rockers on here will start up the party, but the softer tunes give it all the sparkle.
“Most of my favorite records take some time invested before they begin to reward, and Calm Before is a genuine grower. The CD reissue includes the original LP lineup and follows with a 1983 reunion concert recorded in their home town of Andover. Surprisingly, the boys play with all the same energy and a little bit of welcome slop that actually recreates an authentic garage sound.
“These guys arguably had one of the best band names of the time. ; )” … therisingstorm.net (2007)
♦ Review: Fuzz-induced teenaged snarl… beautiful, mellow acoustic ballads
Artist: Rising Storm/Album: Calm Before…/Label: Remnant Records
“This long-time collectors item was recorded by a group of six guys while they were attending Phillips Academy over here on the east coast, right up in Andover, Massachusetts. I always loved the front cover of this album for some reason, sort of a “calm” mellow kind of feel, but unique.
“Anyway, kicks off with a nice cover of The Remains’ ‘Don’t Look Back,’ great jangly sort of guitar sound they’ve got, nice raw young garage band sound.
“The second track ‘To L.N./Who Doesn’t Know’ is a great trance-inducing number, beautiful song, it has the same affect that song ‘A Summer Song’ has on me by Chad and Jeremy, it’s like natural heroin almost… I know that sounds far fetched, but they really space me out in a blissed out sort of opiated way – staring out the window here watching to sun shine on the trees only adds to this pleasant effect.
“They do a nice cover of Love’s ‘Message To Pretty’ that stays true to Love’s original version with harmonica and all.
“‘Frozen Laughter’ includes some beautiful acoustic guitar and a song of ‘soulcrumbling’ love gone bad, sort of a dreary kind of song, but a great one, possibly Love- inspired?
“‘She Loved Me’ contains some great fuzz tones (they let the note ring out too reverberating fuzziness in your head and the song pummels on) and some great teenage angsty type lyrics of the girl who ‘doesn’t care’ but the confusion of but ‘she said she loved me.’ Again, brain-tingling fuzz tones on this one!
“So-so cover of ‘Big Boss Man,’ but I guess I’m just spoiled hearing the snarling versions by the Pretty Things. I can’t totally dismiss this version though, listen to that drummer, they’ve got a great drummer and he saves this from being a sub-mediocre cover. Oh, and great scream at the end too!
“‘The Rain Falls Down’ is another one of those trance-inducing songs that I had mentioned earlier, sensitive, mellow, great acoustic guitar and a different style of drumming on this one that works well here.
“Great variety on Calm Before…., the band can pummel along with fuzz-induced teenaged snarl and also play some beautiful, mellow, folk-type acoustic ballads. I think these guys should have stuck with all originals, leave the covers out for maybe some liveshow jams, because all their originals are great, way better than their covers.” … Psych Trail Mix Music Zine (2012)
♦ The Rising Storm: The Garage Was Upholstered
“One tries to imagine what kind of garage the boys of the Rising Storm played in. Padded, flowered, wood-paneled? With crochet rugs? Smoking hookahs? They have a slightly hippie look, these six, on the cover of the album Calm Before, their sole contribution to the era (1967), which became an obscure classic among the original editions avidly sought by collectors. Bob Cohan, Todd Cohen, Charlie Rockwell, Tom Scheft, Tony Thompson and Rich Weinberg were from Andover, Massachusetts, and thus, were more or less the second cousins of Boston’s Remains, whose awesome Don’t Look Back they covered, as well as the no less brilliant Bright Lit Blue Skies by the Rockin’ Ramrods, on the same scene. But the Storm never rises as well as in intimate mode, semi-lethargic, almost smothered.
“You can tell that they kept a few rhythm ‘n blues chestnuts for live gigs, but their real footing is velvet. Halfway to the Byrds, but more introverted, and also the earliest Pink Floyd, but less bizarre – without will-o’-the-wisp [Syd] Barrett on the horizon. [My] First contact with these hidden ones of pop history was thanks to a purple object, for sale more or less legally, The Magic Cube. Inside the cardboard box which could be mass produced – but where to store the disk? – a flexi-disk of 9 tracks, including this plush marvel to which the needle returned unfailingly: Frozen Laughter. Youthful voice (Honey, is that you?), uncovered object (?), droning organ, muted picking, evening song in the light of the moon. Orange…shadows in the night time… Pirated echo from the Stones, the place where Brian Jones went with the Mellotron on two love songs for the dawn. The 3:11 [minutes] of Frozen Laughter pass in a breath. Did we dream them? Once the complete album was reissued, one blissfully discovered that this was not an isolated thing. Mr Wind, A Message to Pretty, To L.N. / Who Doesn’t Know, The Rain Falls Down, all displayed the same fragile, colorful charm. They hold the Siamese cat’s secret of Love’s ‘Forever Changes.'”… Musique (July 22, 2016; translation by Richard Weinberg)
♦ “Calm Before… remains one of the finest and most important LPs by a US ’60s group, never mind one that was still attending high school when it was released on the privately-pressed Remnant label. From a cache of moody ballads to highly-charged, all-out flashing teen rock, everything here is broodingly and sensationally played out, including highly-personalized covers of Love’s ‘Message To Pretty’, ‘In The Midnight Hour’ and The Remains’ gold-plated nugget ‘Don’t Look Back’. The album’s mix of deep beat-pop introspection and thoroughly intense modern R&B-instigated rock remains unique among most of their peers’ long-play outings, and thus played a big part in the inordinately strong pull the group would have on many young ’60s fixated longhairs in the ’80s and ’90s.” … Shindig! (January 2017)
♦ “The fact that the Rising Storm was back last week at first seemed significant only to the small number of people who knew they went away in the first place, which was mainly their friends and relatives. But one other group of fanatical fans took notice: hard-core record collectors.” … Boston Globe (1981)
♦ “With or without the distance of more than a decade, it was hard to reconcile the humble efforts of one preppy garage band with the cries from the collectors that here was the greatest thing since the opening of Tut’s tomb.” … Boston Magazine (1982)
♦ “You’ve probably never heard of the Rising Storm, a schoolboy garage band that roamed the halls of Phillips Academy in Andover 25 years ago. And you probably wouldn’t have if the group’s only album . . . hadn’t become one of the most collectible disks ever released.” … Boston Herald (1992)
♦ “Twenty-five years ago, the Rising Storm played Abbot-Phillips Academy mixers for $50 a night and made a record to sell to friends and family for $3 a copy. Last year at an auction in Italy, one of the 500 copies of the vanity label record sold for $1,300.” … Lawrence Eagle-Tribune (1992)
♦ “A cult following . . . A reunion tour . . . Middle-aged investment bankers crawling on their bellies like reptiles . . . For the most utterly obscure rock band in America, midlife doesn’t get any better than this.” … Washington Post (1992)
♦ “An Italian collector recently paid $1,300 for a copy of the album, Calm Before. At that price, it would rank among the 50 most collectible albums, according to Goldmine, a magazine for music collectors.” … The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C. (1992)
♦ “While still at prep school in the mid-60’s, this New England group recorded one of the rarest and most respected garage band albums . . . This effort was distinguished from many other recordings of the sort not by the respectable covers . . . but by the beautiful, haunting original folk-rock ballads.” … All Music Guide to Rock (1995)
♦ “The Rising Storm played strictly for fun, duly splitting up once they graduated from high school. A dozen or so years after Calm Before was released, however, a renewed interest in sixties music had spread across the globe and the long forgotten band was rightfully deemed legendary cult heroes.” … Twist and Shake (1995)
♦ “Little did the six members of that student garage band – mixing hard driving originals and covers of classic blues, rock and soul material – realize the album would later come to signal the height of 60’s garage rock and become one of the most sought after original albums of today.” … Middleboro Gazette (1998)
♦ “Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, is not the place you would expect to breed one of the most revered cult garage bands of the ‘60s. . . Before they left [the school in 1967, however, the Rising Storm] found time to cut one of the most esteemed garage records of all time. Calm Before . . . now fetches over $1,000 in mint condition.” … Unknown Legends of Rock ’n’ Roll (1998)