Buried Treasure: Josefus

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Of all the US underground hard and heavy LPs of the late 60s/early 70s, it doesn’t get much better than Dead Man.

If raw, live-sounding production, heavy blues-driven psychedelic rock with distorted riffs, rumbling basslines, acid-drenched solos and energetic vocals is your bag, then this is an album for you.

Houston-based Josefus formed in the autumn of 1969. After interest from Frank Zappa’s Straight Records label came to nothing, Dead Man was released via the band’s own imprint, Hookah.

The vibe on the record was somewhat ahead of its time, and these days is recognised as a cult favourite among musicians and fans in the so-called stoner rock scene.

Kicking off with the ripping garage blues of Crazy Man, Josefus come across like a heady mix of early Blue Cheer and UK heavies Leaf Hound. It’s followed by the heavier I Need A Woman, on which bassist Ray Turner’s growling fuzz tone makes Grand Funk’s Mel Schacher sound relatively tame by comparison.

A pointless cover of Gimme Shelter (also covered by Grand Funk, coincidently) only detracts from the flow of self-penned killer material and should have been excluded. The energetic two-minute blast of Situation makes up for it with punkish aggression. That’s followed by the epic, stoned-out, 17-minute downer rock anthem title track.

Unfortunately, Josefus disbanded not long after the release of a self-titled follow-up the same year.