|Steve Jubb||Vocals, Bass|
|Jim Baldwin||Vocals, Guitar|
|Jim Young||Bass, Vocals|
We tried. We really did. We made many attempts, each with good suggestions for the band’s name. But never could agree. Finally, one of us remarked, “We should just call ourselves The Great Nameless Wonder.” And on that, apparently, we could agree.
Three of us—Steve and both Jims— had been through two previous bands together. The second was an experimental “free rock” (in the sense of “free jazz”) ensemble, where each of us improvised our parts nearly all the time. We didn’t mind losing the one and creating soundscapes purely on gut.
Those ramblings were exhilarating, but unpredictable. No recordings survive. When we decided to part ways with our drummer, we also decided to start a group that was more restrained, more refined and more dependable. We worked long hours on three-part harmonies over acoustic guitars (and bass). Later, we added drums to these, but their inception and their soul as tunes was acoustic.
Nor did we content ourselves often with the lead singer + backup singers formula. We spent hours making each line of each verse an individual moment, changing leads, changing textures, even changing the harmonies themselves. Listen to “The Jesus Song” for an example. Because our notation skills trailed our musical ambitions, all these arrangements were memorized through many rehearsals and performances. Never written down. It did wonders for our memories later in life.
We still enjoyed the “jam band” mentality as well, and on several of these songs you can see evidence of that Grateful Dead influence. Check out “Discovering Purple” here, Steve Jubb’s magnum opus, largely composed in 13/8 time.
These recordings were done by Michael Lindemann on a two-track machine, with instrumental tracks (including solos) done live, and vocals overdubbed later by bouncing the instrumental tracks to a second machine. They were recorded in a garage in Palo Alto, with egg cartons stapled to the walls for “acoustic design.” The second of the two sessions was in December of 1971, and yes, it was very cold in the garage at that time of year. But we managed, and had a good time doing it.
We’ve all kept more or less in touch since those days. We all went on to other bands, and we all grew as musicians. All of us are involved in music still. In some parts of these songs, as Bob Seger says, “I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.” Of course, we’d do many things differently. But these recordings, this band were products of an era that will never be repeated. We can hope that we demonstrate some of the wonder of those years.