Timbercreek: Hellbound Highway (1975)

As mentioned previously, I'm always a little tickled to find long-forgotten 70s obscurities by bands who worshiped at the altar of the Grateful Dead. Sure, these days Dead tribute bands are legion, but the Dead weren't exactly big-time in the early 70s, so it's kinda cool how many bands nonetheless jumped on the bandwagon.

From what I can tell, Timbercreek were a few guys near Santa Cruz, CA, who released their sole album in a small pressing of a few hundred copies, later revived on a small reissue imprint. Imagine some local bar band circa 1975 whose entire record collection consisted of Workingman's Dead and American Beauty; this is what they might have come up with. Totally low-key, no-frills Americana, loaded up with harmonies and a swinging snare and Jerry-like solos and pedal steel.  Nothing terribly memorable, but also surprisingly pleasant, the songs catchy and tuneful and flat-out fun. Shades of the Eagles, Little Feat, the Band, and the Allmans, but, at heart, it's a lot of Workingman's Dead redux.

A lot of familiar riffs will have 'heads playing spot-the-influence ("Promised Land" in "Tantra Queen," "Deal" and "Truckin'" in "Just One Quart," etc.); on the flip-side, while I have no reason to think Garcia ever heard of these guys, opener "Hellbound Highway" almost seems to foreshadow "Alabama Getaway."  All that said, a few of these stand up as perfectly respectable even without a healthy love of the Dead -- I think "Stoned Cold Turkey" is a terrific little bar band romp, and "Nobody On The Streets" introduces a touch of white boy funk -- but, yeah, admiration of early 70s GD is a plus.

If you'd like to recreate the vibe of stepping into some seaside dive circa mid-70s to grab a can of Schlitz while some local band tried out a few new tunes, this one's definitely worth a spin.

Here's an audio rip of "Stoned Cold Turkey":
Not surprisingly, they were a rousing little jam band on stage. Here's some live audio for "Hell In The Hills":
Here's an audio rip of the entire album, plus a few nice bonus tracks:

Comments