Tape of the Month Nov. ’22: Sunrise on the Sufferbus

What’s up you anomalies of analog!

The year may be tapping the breaks with 2023 coming into view, but there’s still plenty of action left for these final weeks of the year. We have just wrapped November and there was one tape in particular that helped us get through: Masters of Reality – Sunrise on the Sufferbus.

One of our favorite things about this new segment is the range of music that we can cover. New, old, legendary, unknown, anything goes! This album is a total gem that will likely divide our readers into two camps: those that know and those that don’t! If you’re in the former, then life has been good to you. If you’re in the latter, well, things are about to pick up for you!

There’s so much I could preface this exploration with, but why bother? Let’s quit stalling and dive in!

Masters of Reality – Sunrise on the Sufferbus

(1992) Produced by Chris Goss, Ginger Baker, and Googe

Track listing:
Side A:
1. She Got Me (When She Got Her Dress On)
2. J.B. Witchdance
3. Jody Sings
4. Rolling Green
5. Ants in the Kitchen
6. V.H.V
7. Bicycle

Side B:
1. 100 Years (Of Tears on the Wind)
2. T.U.S.A.
3. Tilt-A-Whirl
4. Rabit One
5. Madonna
6. Gimme Water
7. Moon in Your Pocket

For those that haven’t seen Beware of Mr. Baker – let me paint this picture for you. A somewhat down and out Ginger Baker, having burnt nearly every bridge he’d crossed in his life, placed an ad in a magazine looking for players to jam with. The guys in Masters of Reality see this ad, likely in disbelief, and make the call. The end result is Ginger Baker joining the band to make this incredible record. As far as I know, it’s the only one that they made together. A damn shame.

The album kicks off with a bang, but we have to build up to such an event. Ginger Baker is the first one you hear and when the band comes in, you know this is serious. Within a few moments you have to pinch yourself because you’re witnessing the 90’s equivalent of Cream or Blind Faith. She Got Me is a fairly straight ahead number, but man when those guitars hit those lovely harmonic harmonies…. heaven.

J.B. Witchdance brings out a slower, somewhat psychedelic, and darker side of the band. We hear the story of a man stumbling upon and joining a séance of sorts – over a Cake like groove. Between the lyrics and the instrumentation this is one of my favorites on the album. Jody Sings is perhaps the most laid back number presented here. It’s mellow and pleasant, not my favorite, but by no means a bad song. Then we get to Rolling Green and this is another of my favorites. Still on a slower wave length, but this song breathes, and is a beautiful tune.

Ants in the Kitchen brings in more of that psychedelic 90’s energy, imagine Cream meets Jane’s Addiction or RHCP. The lyrics are fun and the riffs are really flowing. V.H.V. injects us with some stoner rock vibes that are balanced so nicely by Baker’s jazzy sensibilities. Bicycle is a dreamy, ethereal interlude of sorts escorting us to side B.

100 Years starts side B with Ginger Baker working those toms over acoustic guitar and string arrangements. There’s almost an Alice in Chains flavor in the mix. T.U.S.A. interjects some humor as Baker takes on vocal duties to harass us Yanks about our lack of understanding of tea making protocol. This song cracks me up and I do find myself singing it from time to time, especially when making tea.

Tilt-a-Whirl lives up to its name; it’s fast, full of energy, and downright fun. Goss lends an almost Bruce or Winwood-like vocal quality that helps to give this song a classic feel despite it being very much a product of the 90’s. Take a lesson from the metal heads: when the riff comes back slower, that’s always good.

Rabbit One brings us back to a place similar to J.B. Witchdance – more groovy almost spoken word jams. Madonna serves as a beautiful Cream/Beatles inspired interlude transporting us what is likely the peak of this album’s intended or unintended Cream derivative nature. We are talking guitar and bass synchronized riffing while Ginger gets tribal on the toms. It’s a simple formula, but tough to truly nail. Here we see it masterfully executed.

They saved the best for last (in my humble opinion) with Moon in Your Pocket. This song is beautiful and cleanly executed. There’s also sick guitar riffing going on, showing that you can have feelings AND just wanna rock! The piano is a nice subtle touch that adds to this jubilant yet melancholy feeling. This one leaves you flipping that tape over to start again!

The Verdict:

This is perhaps the best album of 1992, the 90’s, or of the last 30 years. If you are into: alternative, classic rock, stoner, or blues, you will adore this tape. It’s heavy, it’s gentle, it’s tactful, it has depth! You can enjoy this on a drive, on the couch, at a party – it’s just damn well made. Obviously, Ginger Baker is a huge selling point and quite the force on this album, but make no mistake, this is very much a guitar record. It’s somewhat of a hidden gem, but you’ll have no problems finding it online. Enjoy!

Respect, DJ O’K

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