Plant and See
Plant and See

Tracklist:

A1. Put Out My Fire 3:13
A2. Flat On My Face 2:44
A3. Mrs. Tree 2:24
A4. Henrietta 3:26
A5. Rockin’ Chair 2:58
A6. Love and Affection 2:45
B1. Poor Rich Man 3:58
B2. Seekin’ Advice 5:17
B3. Witches Brew 6:47
B4. Leavin’ 2:56

 

Album Info

Paradise of Bachelors is honored to celebrate the life and music of influential songwriter, singer, and guitarist Willie French Lowery (1944-2012) with the first-ever reissue of the sole eponymous album by his interracial swamp-psych band Plant and See. Originally released in 1969 on L.A. label White Whale—home of Jim Ford, the Turtles, and the Rockets—Plant and See is the strange fruit of disparate people, places, and players in dialogue. Its humid, storm-cloud guitars, ductile vocal harmonies, and intuitive, loose-limbed drumming are redolent of a specifically Southern syncretic musical identity and sense of place, testifying to the outstanding, colorblind musicianship of Lowery, African American drummer Forris Fulford, Latino bassist Ron Seiger, and Scotch-Irish backup vocalist Carol Fitzgerald.

American Indian frontman Willie Lowery grew up in swamp-laced, tri-racial Robeson County, North Carolina, the state’s geographically largest, economically poorest, and most ethnically diverse county. Shaped by his own Lumbee Indian heritage as well as the influence of local African American and European American musical traditions, Lowery’s style developed into a powerful, singularly soulful sound that appealed to contemporary psych-rock audiences while directly addressing the concerns of his own Indian community. Plant and See represents his first major recorded work, following stints playing for the “hootchie cootchie women” of a traveling carnival and the lite-psych group Corporate Image, as well as serving as Clyde McPhatter’s bandleader.

Plant and See was a short-lived incarnation; White Whale, already on the brink of dissolution, lacked the resources to effectively promote the album, which contravened the standard race, place, and genre-based markets of the day. Shortly after its release, the band regrouped as Lumbee, named in honor of Lowery’s tribe, the most populous East of the Mississippi. Lumbee’s 1970 album Overdose is, like Plant and See, a rare and highly collectable psychedelic classic; it attracted the attention of the Allman Brothers, whom Lumbee joined on tour in the early `70s. However, the mercurial Lowery quickly changed course, exploring ways to use the country, blues, and gospel idioms of his youth to articulate the history, politics, and cultural identity of the Lumbee people. Stay tuned for upcoming Paradise of Bachelors retrospective releases that document the equally fascinating post-Plant and See phases of Lowery’s underrecognized but remarkable career.

  • First-ever reissue of this 1969 psych masterpiece by interracial North Carolina band led by legendary American Indian songwriter Willie French Lowery (1944-2012)
  • Pressed on virgin vinyl in a limited edition of 1000
  • Produced in collaboration with Willie Lowery and his family
  • Fully licensed from all legal copyright owners and transferred from White Whale master tapes
  • Deluxe tip-on gatefold jacket features restored original artwork
  • Includes detailed new 1500 word essay by Lumbee historian and folklorist Jefferson Currie II, positioning the album within the contexts of Lowery’s career & Lumbee culture
  • Stay tuned for more reissued, rare, and previously unreleased material documenting the remarkable solo recordings of Willie French Lowery & his later band Lumbee

Acknowledgements

“Willie Lowery ran the gauntlet of the music industry for nearly fifty years and never played a dishonest note, in the process becoming an inspiration for, and hero to, the native Lumbee community, as well as Southeastern red dirt musicians  who decide to tell the truth, consigning themselves to the long road. He was the real thing.” 

- M.C. Taylor, Hiss Golden Messenger

“Long-obscure but spectacular. North Carolina imprint Paradise of Bachelors have pulled off a missionary-style coup… It’s a testament to the man’s passion for his people and inter-racial harmony, which extends to the superlative music. Fronted by Lowery’s strong, emotive vocals, the album merges fluid Arthur Lee melody quirks (“Put Out My Fire”), simmering ballads (“Henrietta”), and scorching boogie (“Mrs. Tree”), while “Witches Brew” traverses funky hoodoo incantations. A moving monument to a major but overlooked talent, who went on to further greatness.”

- Kris Needs, Shindig! 

“Psychedelic Southern boogie-rock… that would have fit nicely alongside Moby Grape and other blues-tinged, hippie-harmonizing groovester contemporaries. The record is repackaged and lovingly reissued here by the wonderful, archive-oriented NC-based label Paradise of Bachelors, which has showcased other little-known gems from the Tarheel State and elsewhere. Plant and See’s story is as noteworthy as their music… but for fans of obscure psychedelia, the record merits a listen for the music’s merits alone.”

- John Adamian, Relix

4 stars. A long-buried treasure… North Carolina’s Paradise of Bachelors is one of the dedicated US labels flying the flag for music’s rich heritage by unearthing long-buried nuggets from a time when passion ruled over dollars… Plant and See is a remarkable artefact, testament to this overlooked giant of a singer’s dedication to both his people and inter-racial harmony, which he continued trumpeting for the rest of his life in different projects. Lowery’s richly emotional vocals elevate each track, backed by the group’s lustrous harmonies, whether on West Coast chamber-soul ballads (Seekin’ Advice, Henrietta), Love-style arrangement rollercoasters (Put Out My Fire), fevered rockers (Leavin’, Mrs Tree) or moody swamp-funk (Witches Brew). This would work as just a priceless document from that revolutionary time but, even in 1969, the oppression suffered by Native American Indians had yet to become a hip cause, making Lowery’s proud and defiant brilliance all the more powerful and soul-grabbing.”

- Kris Needs, Record Collector Magazine

 “Plant and See is a fitting tribute to a man who served as a cultural ambassador for his community for decades and wholly embodied the melting pot that is the South.”

- Walker Beauchamp, The Oxford American

“In the 1960s, the late Lumbee Indian singer, composer and activist Willie Lowery led a band called Plant and See — as in, plant the seed in the ground and see what comes up. The band recorded only one album, Plant and See, which went out of print shortly after it was released in 1969, but psychedelic rock fans have always held it in high esteem. Plant and See’s music was very much of its moment: a hazy, Southern blend of rock, soul and blues. And yet in some ways, the band was ahead of its time — especially in its diversity. The drummer was black, the bass player was Latino, the back-up singer was white and the frontman was American Indian — Lowery.”

- Joel Rose, NPR Weekend Edition (listen here)

8/10. Their only record came out in 1969 on the foundering White Whale label (home of Jim Ford and the Turtles), and foundered because it was impossible to pigeonhole. The sound is built on Lowery’s swampy guitar, but flits between the sultry rock stylings of “Put Out My Fire” (like a jittery Hendrix, channeling tribal rhythms) and the sweet sould of “Henrietta,” with Lowery’s pained vocal floating over lush harmonies.”

- Alastair McKay, “Rediscovered!” in Uncut

“Willie French Lowery was a towering cultural figure in the Lumbee tribe, and a musician of great skill whose professional career spanned more than four decades.”

- Indian Country Today

“Lowery’s brand of rock was ahead of its time and mirrored the soul, hope and frustration of coming of age in Southeastern North Carolina during a turbulent time… This re-release of one of his groundbreaking albums will help contribute to honoring his legacy in music and American Indian activism.”

- The Fayetteville Observer 

“The unexpected revival of Lumbee rock ‘n’ roll!”

- Ashley Melzer, The Independent Weekly

Listen to the remembrance of Lowery on WUNC’s The State of Things here.

 

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