Stoneground A.D. 1972

Stoneground opening up Dracula A.D. 1972 (the sixth and last of Christopher Lee’s Dracula run for Hammer Films, with Peter Cushing back as Van Helsing’s grandson) with Alligator Man. That’s Sal Valentino (of the Beau Brummels) on lead vocal. It’s an old cajun tune by Jimmy Newman, and their arrangement is groovy shuffling stuff, with solid ensemble playing (and back up vocals) in that San Fransciso style, always more about the band than about any specific player, and Sal’s rock’n’roll vocalizing was pretty unique, as were his dazed LSD expressions. Laugh, Laugh it ain’t. More like Magic Hollow on Exile on Main Street. I always liked this band, and love this song, and it’s a shame Stoneground never really took off, though Bay Area hippies that they were, I don’t know if they worried about it much. They recorded a couple albums, and Family Album, their second, is their best, one of those vast double LPs, like Sons of Champlain’s Loosen Up Naturally or the second Moby Grape album–that came out of San Francisco (or thereabouts) and went  nowhere. Who knows why.

Alas, this opening party scene with Stoneground is much more fun than most of the rest of the flick, late period Hammer not being what it had been. But hell, it’s Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in the 20th century. Hippies and mini-skirts abound. Peter Cushing’s (i.e., Van Helsing’s) way hot granddaughter just told him she is neither dropping acid nor shooting up nor balling anybody. He looks at her, bemused, like why the fuck not? But he says nothing and smiles. I’m an alligator man. Or he was, in another movie. Or was that George Macready?

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