NOT NECESSARILY STONED (BUT BEAUTIFUL) The Human Instinct

Meet the psychedelic power trio that defined the late
‘60s/early ‘70s New Zealand
sound.

 

BY RON HART

Before Flying Nun Records
wasn’t even yet a sparkle in the eye of Roger Shepherd and back when the Finn
Brothers were still in short pants, the band who defined the sound of New Zealand
as the 1960s became the 1970s was The Human Instinct.

 

The original lineup of the
band broke up in the spring of 1968 following a successful 18-month stint on
the British rock scene, playing alongside such like-minded acts as the Jeff
Beck Group, Black Cat Bones, The Nice and The Moody Blues. However, upon a
return to his homeland, bandleader/drummer/vocalist Maurice Greer opted to keep
the Human Instinct brand going by creating a heavier, more psych-driven version
of the group with a brand new roster – one led by Jimi Hendrix’s Kiwi
doppelganger Bill Ti Kahika. Together, this tougher, trippier edition of the
Instinct released three classic LPs that have since become highly sought-after
pieces in record fair circles among the most studious of collectors and are now
available for the first time ever on CD through the Sunbeam label (www.sunbeamrecords.com).

 

Released in late 1969, Burning Up Years (7 out of 10 stars) marks
the studio debut the new Instinct, taking the group’s blues rock beginnings to
a new dimension of performance, buoyed by heady originals like “Maiden
Voyage” and “Ashes and Matches” and inventive versions of
classic tunes like Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s “Everybody Knows This Is
Nowhere” and a downright molten spin on  The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me,” the
single version of which is tacked on as a bonus track.

 

But as good as Burning Up Years might have been, it
wasn’t until 1970’s landmark Stoned
Guitar
(10 stars) did the group truly tap into the pure, unadulterated
heavy-psych sound gestating beneath their bluesy veneer. With Billy TK’s guitar
fully abetted by all the most mind-altering effects pedals of the era, the
Instinct deliver an acid assault for the ages with such altered state epics as
“Black Sally” and “Railway & Gun” that would fit
perfectly alongside Sir Lord Baltimore  and Spooky Tooth on an old AOR rock block on
the FM dial. The expanded edition of Stoned boasts four bonus cuts, including the single versions of “Sally”
and “Midnight Sun,” a scorching live take on the 13th Floor Elevators
conjuring “Jug-A-Jug” and the previously unreleased jam
“Idea”. If you are at all into any kind of new psych rock from labels
like Holy Mountain and Sun Ark, you need to give
this a listen.

 

The totality of The Human
Instinct’s modified mojo, however, is perhaps best exemplified on the Greer/Te
Kahika combo’s third set together, 1971’s Pins
In It
(9 stars). Recorded in May of that year in the esteemed Mascot
Studios in Auckland with Neil Edwards of the Underdogs replacing bassist Larry
Waide (who departed the group after developing a case of stage fright), the
original nine-song LP was definitely this lineup’s finest sounding LP. And with
the addition of some auxiliary musicians, including flautist Dick Hopp and
organ player Robert Hooper-Smith, it also served as their most varied set as
well, highlighted by a heavy boogie vibe as heard on standout tunes like “Hazy
Days,” “The Washing Song” and “Rainbow World” as well as a faithful
cover of Pink Floyd’s deep crate classic “The Nile Song.” Sadly, Pins In It also marked Billy TK’s final
album with Greer, only adding to the value of this lost rock relic, now
enhanced by six additional tracks of session outtakes like “Texas
Sparrow” and “Children of the World” and alternative versions of
such key tracks as “Play My Guitar” and “Duchess of
Montrose”.  

 

The version of The Human
Instinct brought into focus with this trilogy of reissues was certainly not the
last for Maurice Greer. He recorded three more seventies LPs with 1970’s Snatmin Cuthin, The Hustler from 1974 and Peg
Leg
of 1975, and continues to use the group’s name to play live at various
shows Down Under. But the 1969-71 era of this unsung act is still their most
essential. If you are looking to turn yourself on to these great buried
treasures from the yellowing annals of rock’s back pages, look no further than
this three-pack of artifacts from The Shaky Isles.   

 

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