Fraction: Moon Blood [Classic Album Revisit]

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Fraction
Moon Blood
RidingEasy Records [2024]



Released: 1971 / Vinyl Reissue: Summer 2024 (streaming since late 2023)
Producer: Fraction
Length: 30:39 / Reissue 44:19 (streaming/CD)

There are hundreds, maybe thousands of obscure psychedelic rock albums that go for big money in collectors’ circles. Often, though, those records demand a premium more for their scarcity than for their musical quality. Fraction’s 1971 album Moon Blood is one of the rare exceptions: it’s not only near-impossible to find (only 200 were originally pressed), but the music more than lives up to the hype.

Led by vocalist Jim Beach, the band (which also included Don Swanson on lead guitar, Curt Swanson on drums, Victor Hemme on bass, and Robert Meinel on rhythm guitar) recorded the album’s five tracks in a single 3-hour session, live in the studio with no overdubs. They were obviously well-rehearsed, because the tracks are tight and powerful, with moments of somber delicacy giving way to heavy guitar assaults and Beach’s distinctive wail, which sits somewhere between Jim Morrison and Robert Plant (mostly the former). The lyrics reflect the band’s Christian faith, but they don’t come across as preachy, and at times their apocalyptic imagery adds to the record’s already heavy vibe.

RidingEasy’s reissue adds three bonus tracks, culled from a rehearsal tape, to the streaming and CD versions of the album. They’re interesting from a historical perspective but are decidedly inferior to the album itself, although the fuzzy “Intercessor’s Blues” points to where the band was headed. The vinyl edition of the album faithfully reproduces the original’s transparent red “window” jacket design that allows you to see the moon image printed on the inner sleeve, and comes in a few different variants including a (now sold-out) “die-hard” box set edition. But whichever format you choose, this is one heavy psych record that deserves a spot in the collection of every fan of the genre.

SINGLES
None

DEEP CUTS
Each of the album’s five tracks is worthwhile—opener “Sanc Divided” might be the album’s strongest, but it’s so consistent it’s hard to single out any song as the front-runner.

ARTISTS WITH SIMILAR FIRE
The Doors / Black Sabbath / Led Zeppelin

INTERESTING FACT
The album’s original pressing was on Angelus Records, the “house label” for Whitney Studios in Glendale, California where the album was recorded. Most of the label’s other releases were gospel and other religious records—technically what Moon Blood is, but a far cry from that album’s heavy psych sound!

WHAT ARE FRACTION UP TO NOW?
The band seems to have gone their separate ways shortly after Moon Blood was recorded, and little is known about them outside of their work with Fraction. Singer Jim Beach is still alive and well, but declined to be involved with the reissue process (other than giving it his blessing) according to RidingEasy founder Daniel Hall.

FRACTION LINKS
Bandcamp | RidingEasy Records

Simon Workman
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