In typical Brain fashion, their debut cd was a career spanning
collection of goodies from sessions recorded between 1992 and
1998. This album was assembled at the request of Get Hip, who wanted an album. 'Eclipse And Debris'
was set to be released on the Australian label Camera Obscura. Of course it was over optimistic to celebrate two releases on to well known labels. After being delayed for several months, the Camera Obscura agreement fell though. By then Carelessly Restored Art was scheduled for release, so Eclipse was put on hold. When Greg K at Get Hip learned of this set back, he gladly offered to release Eclipse And Debris in a years time.
Carelessly Restored Art collected half of the tracks from Shambaholic, three songs from the Eclipse sessions and the two best songs from the Butterfly Wheel cassette. The resulting album holds together well, despite the varied vintage of the songs. It presented Donovan's Brain as an original sounding psych band. In retrospect, this was probably the best possible introduction to the band, and what would follow would be a natural evolution. Some critics misinterpreted the title, and assumed that the record was a Dukes Of Stratosphere type recreation of 11 vintage bands, even citing the alleged origins of the songs.
The three "new" songs on the album were recorded during the Eclipse sessions. This short version of Tad's New Cymbal Stand was Ken Stringfellow's work. He was surprised when he was told the long version would be on Eclipse, rather than the one he had spent the most time on. This version was intended to be released as a single, but ended up here instead. The story behind the two versions is simple. The song was played through once, and then spun off into the long jam. As the improvisation wound down, Scott McCaughey called out to the band to "start it again". This second time through followed Colter's original arrangement, and had a proper ending. The major difference is Kurt Bloch's guitar solo, which was replaced with a piano solo on the long version.
Anna Lee Page was offered to the band when they were trying to gather enough material to complete Eclipse. It was on the short list until the last moment when it Ken Stringfellow had to choose between this one and 2 White Spiders. Kels' Paulie McCartney influenced music hall number was a much better fit here. Drummer Sky Dunn makes his only appreance with the Brain on this number. The Guided By Voices cover was a popular item in the 1995 set list. It was probably recorded as an after thought. Bob Pollard heard it, and gave his blessing. When Colter and Ron met Pollard, he was surprised to learn the whole story of Donovan's Brain, and the long list of notible participants.
Of the six Shambaholic numbers, only two hadn't previously been heard, Everything I Know Is Wrong, and the angry Heavy Water, with it's growling backwards guitar. 50,000,000 Million Years Before My Time was given yet another major overhaul and remix for this release.
All Music Guide
Following three self-released cassettes, Carelessly Restored Art is Donovan's Brain's proper debut. It culls songs recorded between 1990 and 1997, including compilation tracks, a single ("Tad's New Cymbal Stand"), and a cut from one of the aforementioned cassettes ("Follow the Shining Path"). Despite its "odds and sods" looks, it makes a coherent album of neo-psychedelia. Some tracks have been remixed and the album is sequenced in a way that allows the music to progress from relatively straightforward psych pop/rock toward something more free-form and high-flying. Half of the tracks are taken from a rock opera leader Ron Sanchez was working on, but the plot of Shambaholic (as it was titled) remains uncertain.
Sanchez sings and plays guitar, bass, and keyboards. Terry Moto assumes most percussive duties; Colter Langan sings on four of the 11 tracks -- in "Tad's New Cymbal Stand" he pulls off a nice imitation of Mott the Hoople's Ian Hunter, intentional or not. Everybody else involved in the making of this album -- a dozen more -- appears on only one or two tracks. Sanchez's writing has a sunny West Coast feel tempered by a less naïve '90s attitude. Compared to later albums, Carelessly Restored Art sounds closer to '60s psychedelia -- it may have to do with the effects used on Sanchez and Langan's voices in songs like "Make a Noise Quietly" and "Kew Observatory" (it gives them a strong Syd Barrett flavor) or in Sanchez's fuzz-drenched, damaging guitar solo in "Follow the Shining Path," the freakiest track in this set. Other highlights include "Anna Lee Page," a Yardbirds-esque number penned by collaborator Kels Koch, and a cover of Guided By Voices' "Smothered in Hugs." - François Couture
"It's a heady brew. Dense, multi-tracked guitar and keyboard
textures backing twinned vocals from Ron Sanchez and Colter Langan. A carefully
woven tapestry of strong, rich colours and pungent tones, all set in a swirling
soundscape. Sixties psychedelia garnished with nineties know-how, which invokes
the spirit of Syd Barrett while tipping a nod in the direction of early Nektar. " - Julian Gough
1. 50,000,000 Years Before My Time - Ron - guitars, organ, bass, vocals Terry Moto - drums
2. Kew Observatory - Ron - guitars, bass, piano, vocals Terry Moto - drums
3. Everything I Know Is Wrong - Ron - guitars, bass, organ, vocals Terry Moto - drums
4. Tad's New Cymbal Stand - Colter - vocals, Ron - guitar, organ, Kurt Bloch - guitar, Scott McCaughey - guitar, Jim Sangster - bass
Tad Hutchison - drums Tony Sacco - piano
5. Heavy Water - Ron - guitars, bass, piano, vocals Terry Moto - drums
6. Dandelions Are Back - Colter - vocals, guitar Ron - guitar, bass Terry Moto - drums
7. Holly Green - Colter - vocals Ron - guitar, Jed Critter - guitar, Tony Sacco - organ, harpsichord Terry Moto - drums
8. Anna Lee Page - Kels - vocals, guitar, snare Ron Sanchez guitar, bass, organ, piano Sly Dunn - drums
9. Follow The Shining Path - Ron - guitars, vocals Jim Sangster - bass, guitar Tad Hitchison - drums
10. Smothered In Hugs - Ron - guitar, vocals Jim Kehoe - bass Jason McKnight - drums
11. Make A Noise Quietly - Colter - vocals Ron - guitar, bass, mellotron Terry Moto - drums