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Merrell Fankhauser - Return to MU
Sundazed Records
By MuzikMan
(more articles from this author)
2003-08-12
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Artist: Merrell Fankhauser (www.merrellfankhauser.com)
Title: Return to MU
Label: Sundazed Records (www.sundazed.com)
Genre: Rock, Surf, Blues, Pop, Tropical Island, Psychedelic

The first thing I would like to clarify about Merrell Fankhauser’s new release Return to MU is that it is NOT a MU album, these are all new recordings from Fankhauser. The Sundazed label made a crucial error by putting "MU featuring Merrell Fankhauser" on the spine of the CD thereby discrediting Fankhauser’s efforts as a solo artist. If someone had been paying proper attention at the label, it would have read "Merrell Fankhauser Featuring Special Guests" (You will recognize many names in the credits of each song). Since this was several years in the making and it took the label several more years to release it you would think that getting the title right would have been the easy part! Regardless of the blunder by the label, this release should give Merrell the worldwide recognition he so richly deserves. This legendary multi instrumentalist, singer/songwriter/producer (he co-produced this effort with William McEuen) deserves more respect in regards to this ambitious project.

The one thing that is for certain, this album derives inspiration from Merrell’s own personal beliefs and feelings regarding the Lost Continent of MU. Merrell seems to be the modern day reincarnate from MU with a message for us all in his music. He returns us to his Polynesian paradise to enchant and mesmerize, as only he can with some incredibly beautiful and lush sounds via a virtual waterfall of music gathered from the drops of the rainforest. The message comes translated through guitars, sitar, percussion, flute, dobro, mandolin, piano, saxophone, virtually every instrument that is able to create the necessary vibe and mood of this atmospheric rock cornucopia. If for some reason you cannot transport to MU by way of this music, I feel sorry for you, as your imagination must have been lost somewhere along the way during your travels. Let Dr. Fankhauser give you the magic elixir to spark your thoughts and dreams once again with his alluring tropical island blend of rock music.

Songs like "Polynesian Dream," with Dean Torrance providing harmony, "Time Travellers," and "Under a Maui Moon" engage you with a blend of guitars, sitar and dobro that will pull you out into a musical ocean of beauty like a prevailing tide. I especially enjoyed the psychedelic rockin’ guitar licks in "Goin’ Down To Atlantis." Those are a just few of my favorites; to be honest the entire album was an absolute delight to experience. After listening several times to this fantastical trip to the islands of paradise in my mind’s eye, I know why Merrell said that this is the most prolific recording he has released in 25 years. If you listen to this music in the spirit that the artist created it in, you will most certainly agree that this recording will be one of the most satisfying trips you will take this year. It is time to climb aboard the "Mothership Fankhauser" and come to understand the brilliance of this man as a musician and producer. His talent rivals that of Brian Wilson and similarly prolific artists. I feel that strongly about his abilities. Buy this CD and you will find out exactly what I mean.

1. Mystical Land (3:53) - Merrell-vocal, tenor guitar, bass, keyboard); John McEuen (mandolin); Don Carmardella (piano, keyboard); Paul Delph (bg vocal); Tim Fankahauser (bg vocal); Lorenzo Martinez (congas); Luis Munoz (percussion); Jerry Sagouspe (drums); Bruce Clark (flute); William E. McEuen (percussion).
2. Waterfall (3:54) - Merrell-lead & bg vocals, 12 & 6 string guitars); John Cipollina (slide guitar); Randy Tico (bass); Mary Lee (violin); Jay Ferguson (vibes & synthesizer); Luis Munoz (percussion); Marsha Sherman (harp).
3. On Our Way To Hana (3:46) - Merrell-vocal, acoustic & electric guitars); Mary Lee (violin); Randy Tico (bass); Bill Berg (drums); Steven Meese (piano); Jay Ferguson (vibes, synthesizer/percussion); Jimmy Dillon (electric guitar); Marsha Sherman (harp); Luis Munoz (percussion).
4. Pictures Of The Past (4:29) – Merrell (vocal, acoustic & 12-string guitars); Randy Tico (bass); Jay Ferguson (keyboard & synthesizer/percussion); Tim Fankhauser (bg vocal).
5. The Unknown Writer (3:50) - Merrell (vocal, dobro, bass, keyboard); Ed Cassidy (drums); Paul Delph (piano, strings); Bruce Clark (flute).
6. Queen MU (4:34) – Merrell (lead & bg vocals, bass, slide & 12-string guitars); Nicky Hopkins (piano, Kurzweil strings);Tim Fankhauser (bg vocals); Jerry Sagouspe (drums & bg vocal); Jay Ferguson (keyboard).
7. Mother Sea (3:03) – Merrell (acoustic & electric guitars); Bruce Sahroian (bass); Art Dougall (drums); Dom Carmardella (bass); Bruce Clark (flute); Fred Ralston (vibes); William E. McEuen (tambourine).
8. Beckoning Maiden (2:39) – Merrell (vocal, keyboard strings); Paul Delph (piano, bg vocal); Dom Carmardella (bass).
9. Polynesian Dream (5:08) –Merrell (vocal, guitar, keyboard); Dean Torrance (bg vocal); Tim Fankhauser (bg vocal); Jim McRae (bass); Jerry Sagouspe (drums); Dom Carmadella (piano); Darrell Thatcher (steel guitar); Bruce Clark (sax); William McEuen (tambourine).
10. Time Travellers (3:44) – Merrell (vocal, guitar, bass, keyboard, dobro); Darrell Thatcher (steel guitar); Jonathan McEuen (bg vocal); Luis Munoz (drums); Paul Delph (keyboard strings); Don Carmadella (piano); Lorenzo Martinez (congas).
11. Prospectors Moon (4:28) - Merrell (vocal, 12-string guitar); Tim Fankhauser (bg vocal & acoustic guitar solo); Jay Ferguson (flute, keyboard); Ned Christianson (Kurzweil strings); Mike Bennet (bass); Jerry Sagouspe (drums).
12. Goin’ Down To Atlantis (3:17) – Merrell (vocal, guitar, bass, keyboard); Jonathan McEuen (lead guitar & bg vocal); Paul Delph (drums); Lorenzo Martinez (congas); William E. McEuen (percussion).
13. The Land of MU (4:29) –Merrell (vocal, guitar, tenor guitar, keyboard, bass); John McEuen (mandolin); Don Carmadello (strings); Bruce Clark (flute); William E. McEuen (tambourine).
14. Under A Maui Moon (7:38) –Merrell (vocal, tenor & slide guitars); Donnie "Divino" Smith (sitar); Stephen Be (flute, Indian drum); Chris Olson (percussion).
15. Matthew’s Dream (5:19) – Merrell (vocal, tenor & slide guitars); Anna Romero (bg vocal); Don Carmardella (piano, strings); Fred Ralston (vibes); Bruce Sahroian (bass); Art Dougall (drums); Lorenzo Martinez (congas).
16. Lodru’s MU Chant (1:30) –Merrell (aka Lodru Jantso) (vocal); Jay Ferguson (keyboard).
17. The Mothership (5:02) –Merrell (lead & bg vocals, slide & acoustic guitars); Ben Benay (acoustic guitars); Bill Cuomo (keyboard); Randy Tico (bass); Gary Malabar (drums).
18. MU Rainforest (2:08) – Merrell (acoustic guitar); Ben Benay (acoustic guitar); Jay Ferguson (keyboard strings); Bill Cuomo (keyboards); Randy Tico (bass); The MU People (tribal drums); Ernie Anderson (MU God voice).


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