Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Jesse Harper - Guitar Absolution in the Shade of a Midnight Sun (1969)

(New Zealand 1967 - 1969, aka Doug Jerebine)
During the mid sixties in New Zealand, the leading bands all included strong lead guitarists. Human Instinct had Billy TK, Ticket had Eddie Hansen, the Underdogs had Harvey Mann and the Brew had Doug Jerebine (aka Jesse Harper). Harvey Mann had learned much of his technique and style from Doug Jerebine. The Underdogs and Human Instinct were good competition for each other, both fighting for the ultimate cult following.
The 'Brew' were regarded as New Zealand’s first “Underground” band. It was put together by Californian Bob Gillet who was a jazz musician living in New Zealand. He had decided to form his own band to play a new kind of music. His first recruit was guitarist Doug Jerebine (pictured far left in the B&W photo below) who was fond of experimenting with equipment and sounds. Doug was a guitar wizard and had previously played with the 'Embers'. They only produced one bizarre / experimental single called "Bengal Tiger" in 1967,with a distinctive eastern influenced guitar before splitting and going onto other musical endeavours.
When the Brew folded, Doug went to England and began writing and recording under the name Jesse Harper and made a powerful LP 'Guitar Absolution in the Shade of a Midnight Sun'.
When the Human Instinct made a brief visit to England, they met up with Jesse and he provided them with a number of his songs. In fact seven of the songs on the Human Instinct's first two albums were written by Jesse.
While in England, Jesse Harper recorded an album full of original material, and this music was finally released in 1992 by Kissing Spell. This is a limited edition of 1000 copies vinyl - acetete only MONO recording from 1969 by one of those Hendrixians from NZL - first time available in restored sound quality. A re-mastered version has also been made available by Kissing Spell in 2002 which featured extensive liner notes but replaced the cover art as shown below.
While the tracks on the album are titled differently to the Kissing Spell release Guitar Absolution in the Shadow of a Midnight Sun, they are in fact the same songs. The cover image is "The Agony In The Garden, Studio Of El Greco, 16th Century" and the music has been described as being 'Killer Acid Psych 60s Rock Guitar Fuzz Trips'.
The ten demos, which make up this album, were recorded live with a drummer and had bass, lead parts, and vocals overdubbed by Harper. It was literally a one-man project. And like the Bevis Frond, who followed a similar pathway later, the music is mainly super heavy, washed in phasing with multi-tracked guitar leads battling for attention. The Hendrix approach was very clear. It's all noisy and druggy, with the occasional mellower moment creeping in. Perfect for fans of late-'60s fuzzed-out hard rock. Yet another discovery from the ever widening crevice of obscurities from the psychedelic era.
While in England, Harper played bass with Jeff Beck, recorded an album that would become a underground classic and formed the World Band with another Kiwi Mike Donnelly on drums.
They played London, toured Holland and turned down a recording deal with EMI.
Harper quit the music scene to join the Hare Krishna movement but not before leaving a musical legacy that New Zealand's Human Instinct turned into a piece of underground history.
For more information on Doug, check out Keith Newmans excellent Doug Jerebine story.
The first time I heard this album, I was completely blown away by two tracks - "Jug-a-Jug Song" and "Midnight Sun". Both tracks have a real Hendrix feel about them, and have been covered by Human Instinct on their classic LP 'Stoned Guitar'. In comparison, I gotta say that Harper's original take of these two tracks are far superior. Harper was renowned by his peers in the 1960’s as an “out there” guitar player with the playing ability to rival Hendrix. To read more about this interesting parody, have a look at this article from fishriderrecords
The remaining tracks are not quite so psychedelic and his playing style and vocals for me are somewhat reminiscent of Ten Years Afters' guitarist 'Alvin Lee'.
Overall, this album is a lost KIWI gem from the late 60's and is well worth the listen.
The rip was taken from CD at 256kps and includes full album artwork (thanks to the original uploader Dr Bell Otus)
Track List 
01. - Jug-a-Jug Song
02. - Blues News
03. - Other Side of Time
04. - Circles
05. - Keep Cool
06. - Midnight Sun
07. - Hole in his Hand
08. - Fall Down
09. - Ashes and Matches
10. - Love Song

Jesse Harper Link (95Mb) New Link 02/08/2015


  1. Do you have any tips on where to find this on vinyl? I have been looking for it for a while, but can't seem to find it anywhere.

  2. Thanks for dropping past Jan Tore.
    Unfortunately this LP is as rare as Hen's teeth and I'm guessing the only chance of finding a copy is on eBay or a like, and I'm guessing it would go for a hefty price as well.
    Sorry I can't be of any real help.

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  5. Bonjour Lorjim

    Link fixed - merci for the heads up