The Final Solution

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About The Final Solution

A name known only to hardcore devotees of the early San Francisco psychedelic scene, the Final Solution never did release a record, although they did play some gigs around that time (including one at the Fillmore), and played for a month at the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City, NV. Their modal distorted guitars and instrumental sections bore some similarities to those used by the Great Society and other early San Francisco groups. Yet the Final Solution had a grimmer, more downcast outlook, both in their lyrics and in their droning, minor-keyed melodies. Most of the original material performed by the Final Solution was written by lead guitarist Ernie Fosselius and bassist Bob Knickerbocker, although rhythm guitarist John Yager sang lead. They did come close to a deal with Mainstream, the Chicago label that recorded several minor Bay Area bands (and one major one, Big Brother & the Holding Company), but nothing came out. In late 1966, interestingly, drummer Jerry Slick -- formerly in the Great Society, which also included Grace Slick, his wife at the time -- joined, adding parts from Great Society tunes to some of the Final Solution's arrangements. (In particular, on their 1966 rehearsal tapes, you can hear sections of the Great Society's "Grimly Forming" and "Father" lifted virtually verbatim.) The discouraged band broke up in 1967, and Fosselius and Knickerbocker went on to work in film. Tapes of the band, recorded in 1966 at rehearsals and live at the Matrix club in San Francisco, do survive, and here's betting that -- given the intense interest in psychedelic rock from this time and place -- they'll see the light of day before most of you reading this get lowered into the ground. Although not close to the upper echelon occupied by the best of their San Francisco peers, much of it's worthwhile, particularly their most folk-rock-aligned stuff, such as "Just Like Gold" and "Bleeding Rose." On numbers like "So Long Goodbye" there's a garage rock rush, and they get into raga-rock on songs like "If You Want," with a guitar Fosselius constructed by putting a Harmony guitar neck onto a mandolin. A version of "Bleeding Rose," recorded at rehearsals with Slick on drums, did emerge on a flexi-disc included with the first issue of the San Francisco rock fanzine Cream Puff War in 1991. ~ Richie Unterberger

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