H.P. Lovecraft in Concert – Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco – May 11, 1968 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
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As band life-expectancies go, H.P.Lovecraft didn’t last all that long. Two years before going off in other directions and other frustrations. But in that two year period, there were really few, if any, American bands doing what they were doing. And because of that, they were a staple in the diet of early underground FM, particularly with The White Ship, a track off their 1967 debut album. It became something of an anthem in 1968; it seemed to capture the underlying feeing of the period perfectly. Which probably explains why they were huge in the Bay area (they were originally from Chicago, but relocated to San Francisco shortly after their debut album was released) and why they were so popular at The Fillmore and Winterland and regulars at The Shrine Expo Hall and The Kaleidoscope (Hullaballoo club) in L.A. In that two year period they managed to make a profound impression, particularly among musicians on the Coast at that time. But, as is often the case, a series of bad career moves and in-fighting brought about the demise of the band, and by 1969 the band dissolved just before release of their third album.
There were attempts later on to resuscitate the band; taking it in different directions. Even in 1975 an attempt was made to do a variation on H.P. Lovecraft with a Funk version called Love Craft, but it pretty much dissolved at the starting gate.
They had a reputation for being one of the more accomplished live bands at the time – a time which audiences often struggled with; the opinions were fairly divided over “bands which sounded great in the studio, but were terrible live” or, in the case of bands like The Grateful Dead early on, were terrible in the studio, but sounded great live. Such was technology at the time on the road, and studio wizardry at home.
Since H.P. Lovecraft have more or less been relegated to collectors shelves and in-depth assessments of music in the 60s. Most all their material has been reissued and it’s in the process of finding a new audience to discover them. They are worth the effort.