H.P. Lovecraft – H.P. Lovecraft I (1967)

Artist Credit
Clyde Bachand Tuba
George Badonsky A&R
John Cabalka Cover Illustration, Design
Tony Cavallari Composer, Group Member, Guitar, Vocals
Ralph Craig Trombone
Lenny Druss Clarinet, Horn, Horn (English), Piccolo, Sax (Bass), Sax (Tenor)
Tim Edmundson Composer
George Edwards Bass, Composer, Group Member, Guitar, Guitar (12 String), Guitar (12 String Acoustic), Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric), Guitarron, Quotes Researched & Compiled, Vocals
H.P. Lovecraft Arranger, Primary Artist
Jack Henningbaum French Horn, Horn
Edward Higgins Horn Arrangements, Vibraphone, Vocals (Background)
Jerry McGeorge Bass, Group Member, Vocals
Dave Michaels Clarinet, Composer, Group Member, Harpsichord, Keyboards, Organ, Piano, Recorder, Vocals
Fred Neil Composer
Randy Newman Composer
Chester Powers Composer
Mike Stone Cover Photo, Photography
Michael Tegza Drums, Group Member, Percussion, Timpani, Vocals
Paul Tervelt French Horn, Horn
Traditional Composer
Bill Traub Reeds, Reeds (Multiple), Wind
Bill Traut Bells, Percussion
Paul Trevelt French Horn
Herb Weiss Trombone

The album blended psychedelic and folk rock influences and was marked by the haunting, eerie ambiance of the band’s music, which itself was often inspired by the literary works of horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, after whom the band had named themselves. Although most of the album comprises interpretations of traditional and contemporary folk songs, it also features the self-penned compositions “That’s How Much I Love You, Baby (More or Less)”, “The Time Machine”, and arguably the band’s best known song, “The White Ship”. The traditional song “Wayfaring Stranger” was released as a single just ahead of the album in September 1967 and “The White Ship” was issued shortly after the album appeared, although neither single reached the charts. Like its attendant singles, H. P. Lovecraft was also somewhat commercially unsuccessful and failed to reach the Billboard Top LPs chart or the UK Albums Chart, although it did sell reasonably well over time.

Recording and contents
Recording sessions for the album took place in mid-1967 at Universal Recording Studios in Chicago, with the band’s manager George Badonsky Record producer and Jerry DeClerk engineering. Progress on the album was very rapid, with the band recording many of the songs virtually live in the studio, although horns, woodwind instruments, and a nine-piece orchestra were overdubbed onto the tracks after completion of the initial sessions. The album is highlighted by the vaguely sinister ambiance of the band’s music and by the oddly striking harmonies that resulted from the juxtoposition of guitarist and ex-folk singer George Edwards’ folk-influenced singing and keyboardist Dave Michaels’ classically trained, operatic phrasing.

The ten songs included on H. P. Lovecraft exhibit a wide range of styles, encompassing elements of jazz on “That’s How Much I Love You, Baby (More or Less)”, folk music on “Wayfaring Stranger”, Gregorian chant on “Gloria Patria”, vaudeville psychedelia on “The Time Machine”, and contemporary singer-songwriter material on “The Drifter”, “Let’s Get Together”, “That’s The Bag I’m In”, and “Country Boy & Bleeker Street”. In addition, the laid-back, druggy ambiance of the cover of Randy Newman’s “I’ve Been Wrong Before” serves to give an indication of the musical direction that the band would follow on their second album, H. P. Lovecraft II.

The album’s centerpiece is the song “The White Ship”, which was directly inspired by author H. P. Lovecraft’s short story “The White Ship”. Written by Edwards, Michaels, and the band’s lead guitarist Tony Cavallari, the six-and-a-half-minute opus made use of baroque-style harpsichord, droning feedback, somber harmonies, and the chiming of an 1811 ship’s bell. The song was released in an edited form as a single, shortly after its appearance on the album, but it failed to reach the Billboard Hot 100. In addition, the full-length album version of “The White Ship” went on to become something of an underground FM radio favorite in America.

Although the H. P. Lovecraft album was largely overlooked at the time of its release and had gone out of print by the early 1970s, its reputation has continued to grow over the years. A revival in interest in the band and their music began in the late 1980s, with Edsel Records reissuing the album and its follow-up together on the At the Mountains of Madness compilation in 1988. In 1997 both albums were re-released by Britonic Records as ‘This is HP Lovecraft / HP Lovecraft II’.The album was again reissued in 2000, along with its follow-up H. P. Lovecraft II, on the Collectors’ Choice Music CD Two Classic Albums from H. P. Lovecraft: H. P. Lovecraft/H. P. Lovecraft II. In addition, all ten songs that make up the H. P. Lovecraft album were included on the Rev-Ola Records compilation Dreams in the Witch House: The Complete Philips Recordings.

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