Population II - 1969
While never attaining his rightful place in the pantheon of heavy rock guitar gods, Randy Holden will always be held in high regard for creating Population II - one of greatest high-volume displays of all time and an all-out monster of an album. Best known for his brief tenure in Blue Cheer that lasted long enough for him to appear on the second side of their New! Improved! LP, Holden signed an endorsement deal with Sunn amplifiers upon his departure and ordered twenty 200 watt speaker cabinets for use on his debut solo release. And he used them all. At once. Paired with Chris Lockheed, who handled drums and keyboards simultaneously, Holden took aim at laying down not only the loudest album in recorded history, but the first to successfully bridge the divide between psychedelic rock and heavy metal. The result, a heavily reverbed affair with piles of reverse effects, beautifully controlled feedback and sparse arrangements that allowed plenty of space for the volume to stretch out, was far beyond what Black Sabbath, the Stooges or Led Zeppelin were up to around the same time. Even more amazing is how for a guitar-centric album, Population II is completely devoid of clichés, superfluous guitar heroics or trite lyrics, yet oddly enough, this slice of heaven received only a limited release on the small Hobbit label and was quickly withdrawn by Holden's management under a veil of secrecy. Thankfully, it has been heavily bootlegged in great fidelity for nearly 40 years. It may not be your thing, but if you allow this one to sink in, you'll get completely lost in it.