Barely noticed when it was first released on Epic Records in January 1969, Kak's eponymous album has been a collector's item since the late 1970s and has also been bootlegged several times. A legitimate CD version on US Sony opened up a new chapter in 1992, but in the ensuing seven years time has passed that straight (and now out-of-print) reissue by. Since then, reissue standards have risen dramatically, which brings us to the latest offering in Big Beat's "Nuggets From the Golden State" series.
Retitled Kak-Ola, this reissue gives you the full original album, resplendent Inverness cover and all. But you also get the rare alternate single version of Rain, both sides of guitarist/vocalist Gary Lee Yoder's even rarer 1970 Epic single, and eight previously unreleased demos and live cuts for good measure. The latter eight consist of three pre-album Yoder recordings that bridge the gap between Kak and the Oxford Circle (the previous band he and fellow Kak-ster Dehner Patten were in, documented on Live At The Avalon 1966, CDWIKD 178). There are revelatory acoustic demos, live versions of three album cuts by Kak, plus a fine Yoder medley of the previously unheard Bye Bye / Easy Jack.
One might call these eleven extras the icing on the cake, but it's more like another cake considering what you already have in the original album. If you were to hold up any record as exemplifying the "feel-good" West Coast sound of the late 60s, it might as well be Kak's. Through poignant imagery and strong playing, the album touches on the era's social turbulence on Everything's Changing, free-spirited lifestyles on Electric Sailor and Lemonaide Kid, dreamy idealism on I've Got Time, and mind expansion with the Trieulogy of Golgotha, Mirage and Rain. The textures range from hard to soft to ethereal, and by the end of this CD visions of grassy California hillsides seen through granny sunglasses are guaranteed to be on your mind.
While you're still in the fantasy, be sure to check out the liners for the band's spoken-word history via a transcript of interviews conducted by Kak-Ola compiler Alec Palao.
By Doug Sheppard