The Tompkins Sqaure Label are to release the first ever re-issue of the self titled solo album Dino Valente which was first released in 1968 on Epic, then a subsidiary of Columbia Records. To many Dino Valenti (spelt correctly) was something of an influential pioneer in the field of psych-folk and this release is seen by many as one of the best 60’s psych / folk albums released.
There is a great deal of history behind this release and the man who released it (born Chet Powers Jr.) which will not be at all clear if you read the original liner notes written by Ralph Gleason which are replicated on this release. You’ll need to dip into books such as Richie Unterberger’s Urban Spacemen And Wayfaring Strangers and Jeanette Leech’s Seasons They Change: The Story Of Acid And Psychedelic Folk to uncover the history.
Whichever version of events you favour it’s clear that some people loved Dino’s company and others found him to be an arrogant egotist, something that often stood in the way of greater success. It was Chet that penned ‘Get Together’ which served as a counter-culture anthem for millions and would later become a top 5 hit in the US for The Youngbloods:
Unfortunately he had to sell the rights to the song in order to pay his legal bill for securing his release from Folsom Prison where he was doing time for possession of marijuana and amphetamines. Before going to prison he had discussed starting a new band called Quicksilver Messenger Service, something that would go ahead without him until 1970 when he joined QMS for their fourth and fifth releases (1970) Just for Love and What About Me?
When he was finally released his efforts went into his solo release but his relationship with Epic was not exactly great. In Urban Spacemen And Wayfaring Strangers friend and bandmate Gary Duncan said “Dino was notoriously hard to deal with…He had a reputation of being a total fucking prick.” This led some to speculate that the mis-spelling of his solo album: Dino Valente instead of Dino Valenti was a revengeful move by the label. The road to release was hard and slow…they failed to get him to work with Jack Nitzsche but managed to get further with Bob Johnston who had worked with Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash and knew how to handle the situation. According to Jeanette Leech’s book “the unflappable Johnston knew that he would have to be subtle if he was to coax anything out of Valenti, who subsequently wasted studio time by spending days making paper planes, hanging out with his horde of female admirers, or calling up bagpipe players whose efforts wouldn’t actually make it onto the album.” He was one of a kind!
Whatever the history, the end results were truly something different which Leech describes as a “new form of folk music imbued with San Franciscan psychedelia and embryonic country-rock.” Although the album never did that well it has taken on a classic cult status amongst many and is still inspiring artists today, such as James Toth of Wooden Wand, who says, “This long overdue reissue is a public service to loners, stoners and dreamers everywhere. Buy two copies; you will wear the first one out.” Matt Valentine of MV&EE also effuses, “It’s a masterpiece . . . the songs, the vibe, the verb, the cojones. A stoned out killer – an LP that I continue to listen to regularly to this day. It was a huge influence on my first solo LP “Space Chanteys” and the production is awe-inspiring, in many ways ground zero for my spectrasound techniques.”