Rayburn CD

Rayburn was an amazing hard rock band from Little Rock, Arkansas that formed in 1970 and played in a moody and technical style with inventive songwriting. Their unreleased recordings are must for fans of underground psych and prog sounds. They recorded for Mega Records, an RCA records subsidiary, and got signed to the label. However, their success was cut short when the father of keyboardist/songwriter Steve Stephens (not to be confused with Steve Stephens of local television fame), bought out the band's contract with the label to derail his son's music career. Over the next two years, the band recorded at Jaggars Studio in Little Rock and for Steve Cropper's TMI studio in Memphis, but the band's second chance at fame continued to elude them. In 1974, guitarist Jimmy Roberts' life was cut short when he developed cancer at the age of 21. Three years later in 1977, the band reunited to record more songs from their early 70s era that they never got a chance to record with Roberts. For the first time in over 30 years, Rayburn reunited for a live concert in their hometown of Little Rock, AR in July of 2009. With the help of the band member's musical children, the 2009 version of Rayburn was a tribute and reboot of the original group with the meeting of two generations to celebrate the music of the past. At the concert, their reel to reel demos from 1972-1977 were released on CD, featuring a full color 12 page book compiled and researched by Harold Ott. This was a supremely talented group that was gone too fast and held back from the world. With this release, Psych of the South attempts to correct that injustice with a CD of 14 of Rayburn's original compositions heard here for the first time.

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LABEL - Psych of the South (POTS 4502)

1. Your Mind (Doubt)
2. Got to Get Ready to Die
3. Steam Shuffle
4. Said, I Love Only You
5. Righteous Man
6. Songbird
7. See My Eyes
8. The Trail is Gone
9. Your Mind (Doubt) version 2
10. America
11. Saltless Tears
12. Hey Friend
13. Working My Way Upstream
14. Your Mind (Doubt) version 3


Hail Arkansas’ unluckiest prog-rockers
***(3 stars)
It wasn’t easy being a prog-rockin’ beardie longhair in early 70s Arkansas. It’s interesting to see how this young, pre-college band presented themselves officially – hair neatly parted, sporting smart jackets and ties. In private, they were more dangerously casual; but getting lynched by rednecks was the least of this talented combo’s problems.
Signed to RCA offshoot Mega, Rayburn were mysteriously dumped. Only years later did it emerge that Steve Stephens’ father had bought out their contract to steer his son into the family banking business. Then Jimmy Roberts – married to future model/recording star Rosie Vela – died of cancer, aged just 21. It lends Got To Get Ready To Die an ominous weight.
Musically, there’s a unique stripe of traditional Americana running through these prog grooves and, as the voices carry an unselfconscious spirituality, the whole can occasionally chime with the contemporary sound of young America’s questing souls. Stephens’ vast Hammond and some horizon-gazing vocals lift the effect way above jazzed-up DIY prog – at best echoing 70s Love and Mu, as well as Roberts’ and bassist Mack Price’s formative folk choir. -Record Collector - Derek Hammond

I’d like you to set your the time machine to the early seventies…maybe even the late sixties so that you can check out a band from Arkansas calledRayburn. Imagine the time where prog was just morphing out from its psychedelic cocoon. Groups of all stripes were excited about experimenting with new instruments and incorporating new styles of music and all the while getting away from the standard 3-minute pop song. Rayburn was one of those bands that never got their fair share of attention, until now that is. The quartet consisted of Mack Price (bass, vocals), Jimmy Roberts (guitar, vocals, piano), Robbie Carder (drums, vocals) and Steve Stephens (Hammond B3, piano, Moog, vocals).
The Rayburn CD has been lovingly assembled by the good folks at Psych of the South and is made up of 14 tracks that cover the full range of music produced by the band. Call it Proto-prog if you like but it’s prog that in many respects resembles the music of early Yes, both in terms of guitar style, organ sounds and arrangements. Still Rayburn were able to inject a lot of their own feel into these compositions and some of the material has more in common with the fading psychedelic era especially some of the guitar and vocal styles. Length of songs here is all over the map. While the band could write a 2 or 3 minute pop tune, they weren’t afraid to stretch out and some of the songs are over six or eight minutes. The Yes influence is most obvious on track one “Your Mind” [3:13] in particular the way the guitar is played and also how the song is arranged. However it’s the vocals that confirm the song as part of Rayburn’s repertoire as they sound nothing like Yes. This track even appears three times here in slightly different versions. The band was not shy about experimenting with adventurous arrangements and song structure. Even some of the shorter tracks provide numerous musical change-ups. Most of these tracks were written and recorded in the very early seventies and feature that distinctive bass, guitar and organ as the up-front musical sounds that will certainly take you back to the early days of the progressive rock movement.
If you enjoy digging into the past and listening to music that never had the chance to be heard when it was originally made, this is definitely a disc you need to get your hands on. To my ears Rayburn was yet another band who never had the opportunity to reach a wider audience which is too bad because the music for its day was really good. The musicianship was quite accomplished, even adventurous and certainly deserves our attention now that it’s available on CD. This is early styled prog at its best; with no pretense other than the desire to create music that was out of the mainstream. And on that score Rayburn is 100% successful! This is a great disc. - Review by Jerry Lucky

Background magazine:
Talk about misfortune! You form a band which plays rock with an emphasis on nice riffing, good vocals and the organ and you are just about to get some fame, and then the father of one of the band members pulls the rug from underneath you, thank you very much! This father was the co-owner of one of the biggest investment bankers in the country and bought the record label of Rayburn from the recording company and then stiffed the upcoming release of the new LP. With such family, who needs enemies? And then, when you go on undaunted, your guitarist dies of cancer, only 24 years old. No wonder Rayburn never made it big. But they could have, listening to this collection of demos made by the remaining band members on the basis of material written by their deceased guitarist. The organ playing especially makes this band stand out from the pack (listen to the Steam Shuffle, I bet your feet will start shuffling) and their compositions were also quite interesting, with a light psychedelic and melancholic feel over them (nice example is the eight minutes of Said, I Love Only You). This release is a kind of redemption for those who could and maybe should have been more famous. ***André de Waal (edited by Robert James Pashman)

RAYBURN was a band from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA. They were formed in 1970 (!) and recorded several demos during the 1970s, but eventually quit in 1974 when guitarist JIMMY ROBERTS died of cancer at the very young age of 21. They did reform in 1977 briefly, but it wasn’t until 2009 before a real reunion (yet without their original guitarist of course) took place and the band played a live concert, which leads to this CD ‘Rayburn’. Included are 14 original RAYBURN compositions and actually not only the sound quality is very good, but also the songs are sounding very strong and it is a miracle this band did not had a breakthrough 35 years ago. RAYBURN played a sort of Psychedelic Progressive Rockstyle that sounded like a mix between STEELY DAN, JEFFERSON AIRPLANE, CREAM, THE MOODY BLUES and IRON BUTTERFLY. The vocals were spot-on and very clean/melodic, the Hammond was clearly at the forefront and the guitarwork made it rock like a typical 70s Classic Rockband. Definitely a must-have for fans of Classic 70s Rock! (Points: 8.2 out of 10) - Strutterzine

Gotta love when little labels like Psych of the South unearth from the vaults gems like the unreleased recordings from Rayburn, a practically unknown prog/hard rock band from Little Rock, Arkansas in the early 1970's. Rayburn's tale is one that will sound familiar to anyone who has had a band who came 'this close' to getting signed by a major label, only to have it fall through, leaving the band to fall into obscurity before the world could hear their music. Fast forward more than 30 years to 2009, when Psych of the South got a hold of the Rayburn recordings after the band played a reunion concert, and the resulting CD is now available to the public. While the music of Rayburn is not the most original you will ever hear, if you like acts such as Deep Purple, Gentle Giant, Yes, Iron Butterfly, Starcastle, Mirthrander, Happy the Man, and Vanilla Fudge, chances are you will really enjoy this talented group.
Plenty of Hammond B3 and electric guitar jams going on here, especially on tunes such as "Your Mind", "Got to Get Ready to Die", and "Steam Shuffle", courtesy of Steve Stephens and Jimmy Roberts, who really scratch your itch for the pairings of Lord/Blackmore, Howe/Wakeman, or Minnear/Green.Though none of the tracks are overly heavy, many of them do rock quite a bit, and they are interspersed with the more melodic, atmospheric numbers like "Said, I Love Only You", and "Righteous Man", which have just enough symphonic and folk elements to please the prog rock fans. There's no shortage of jangly, intricate guitar patterns (hence the Yes & Gentle Giant reference), and Stephens also pulls out his piano and Moog a bit as well. Lead vocals are very well done, and shared by the band, and the talented bassist Mack Price and drummer Robbie Carder round out the group. When the band is really on and firing on all cylinders, as they are on the bluesy hard rock of "The Trail is Gone", the Hammond freak out "Saltless Tears", or the psych/prog ramblings of "America", the results are quite fun, and really make you wish the band scored that record deal way back in the day. - Sea of Tranquility