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Riding Easy Records

Acid King - Busse Woods LP (180g)

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£33.00 GBP
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It could be anywhere. Every small town encompasses that one long stretch of forest where kids run to get high, jam out, and just escape. This place counters the suburban boredom with a bag of weed and booming speakers. It drowns out existence for a few blissful hours before returning back to school, work, or life. For San Francisco-based stoner metal trio, Acid King vocalist, guitarist, frontwoman, and mastermind, Busse Woods offered such a retreat in her native Illinois as a teenager in the 70’s. This 3,700-acre section of the Cook County Forest Preserve system beckoned her during high school with its buffet of dope, frisbee challenges, and Black Sabbath blaring from numerous trunks well past sundown. Those days left such an imprint on Lori she titled Acid King’s second full-length released in 1999—but named her after her seventies hangout two decades later—Busse Woods. Celebrating its 20th year with a special reissue on Riding Easy Records and tour in 2019, it represents the heart and soul of the band.

“As an adult, I think back on it now and can’t believe we did that and the whole thing existed,” she laughs. “Without getting busted, that’s just what we did. This is way before the War on Drugs, as you can imagine. Those days were a big part of my teenage life back in the seventies. It’s how life was. We were just a bunch of suburbanite kids listening to metal, smoking pot, and experimenting with psychedelics.”

When Lori discovered the famous true crime book Say you love Satan—the story of a Northport, NY teenager Ricky Kasso a.k.a. “The Acid King”—she named the band after this and identified some parallels to her own teenage hangout.

She laughs, “The difference is we just  were normal teenagers not total screw-ups, angel dust addicts, and murderers!  The combination of our teenage forest preserve hangout, Busse Woods and the story of Ricky Kasso and his teenage forest preserve hangout, Aztakea Woods  ended up to be the perfect mix and inspiration  for the release. As far as Busse Woods goes, it’s one of those places fans can make up their own meanings to. It’s a mix between these stories in this old school era we sort of shared.”

Busse Woods, as an album, still exudes the same sense of mysticism it did upon release in 1999. As the story goes, Lori and bandmates Joey Osbourne [drums] and Brian Hill [bass] entered a practice space to write the full-length follow-up to their Man’s Ruin debut Down with the Crown. Organically, they jammed out five originals—“Electric Machine,” “Silent Circle,” “Drive Fast, Take Chances,” “Carve the 5,” and “Busse Woods”—take on “39 Lashes” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar, which Lori admits she “was constantly listening to and it was influenced by the heaviness of the guitar solos. The guitar tones remain awesome and really resonated enough with her to have an unlikely cover song on the release.

As everything gelled, they recorded with legendary engineer Billy Anderson at the now closed Division Hi-Fi Studio in San Francisco on two-inch tape—the master of which remains in Lori’s possession.

With its revved-up riffing, thick bass, airtight drums, and cavernous vocalizations, the music conjured up the bliss of a stoned motorcycle ride across the river Styx and back.

“It puts you in a headspace and gives you a little internal power,” she says. “It might be inspirational or motivational. It was a special time.”

Prominent Bay Area artist Frank Kozik initially released the CD on his Man’s Ruin record label—famous for releases by everyone from Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss to High On Fire and The Hellacopters. Then, as she admits, “everything fell apart.”

Behind the scenes, personal and professional relationships crumbled. Marriages ended. Lineups shifted. In the face of such tumult, the music of Busse Woods rarely got its due on stage in the aftermath, even though the aesthetic would prove influential.

In the middle of various reissues and re-releases, Acid King kept touring internationally throughout Europe and Japan from 2005-2015.  In between this time they jammed on riffs and started to craft songs but ultimately didn’t kick it into high gear to finish the release until 2015. They reawakened in the studio with the 2015 opus, Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere. While the new music caught critical acclaim and fan approval, a funny thing happened, and Busse Woods also came back to life. Its songs would generate the most streams on Spotify. They’d generate loud responses in concert and became their most critically acclaimed release to date. The stars aligned.

Twenty years down the line, it felt only right for Lori and Co. to revisit this landmark and give it the proper tour it deserves. “Carve the 5” was never played live, and the frontwoman will reverse the track order for the tour with the album instrumental finale “Busse Woods” as the opener.

“This album defines the band in many ways,” she admits. “It’s the one we get asked about the most, and it will be really cool to go back out and play it.”

In the end, Busse Woods emanates the same magnetism, mysticism, and magic it did two decades ago—if not more.

“For the old fans that bought this record twenty years ago, I hope they’re excited to hear the songs all played for the first time like this,” she leaves off. “By the same token, I hope that a lot of new fans who haven’t heard it also have a special experience. We’re going out of our way to make it special for everyone. It’s what Acid King was always meant to be.”