The Holy Mackerel is a largely forgotten yet wildly impressive artifact of the late ’60s folk and psychedelia movement. Created as a studio vehicle for songwriter Paul Williams, the band was short lived — only one year to be exact — and not well received. Like many other overlooked acts of the time, it’s only now they’re finally getting their proper due.
Production wise, the self-titled work sounds just as full of life as its contemporaries. A song like the exhaustively titled “The Somewhere in Arizona At 4:30 A.M. Restaurant Song (And Now I Am Alone)” plays like an outtake from The Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo (released a year after THM in 1969), while “Wildflowers” has the floating psychedelic sound akin to Donovan on his 1968 album, Hurdy Gurdy Man. It’s shocking that this album didn’t chart, but when you’re competing against some of the best albums ever made it can be easy to get lost in the shuffle.
There’s also some really silly stuff here, namely the spoken word track “Prinderella,” full of trite wordplay and nonsense. There’s also “The Wild Side of Life,” a ’50s country song originally recorded by Hank Thompson while being played here for laughs (in all the wrong ways). Those two aside, the other songs are all quite good thanks to Paul Williams’ impeccable songwriting. The swaying, waltzing sound of “10,000 Men” is a real standout, as well as the hazy guitar-driven album closer of “1984.”
Ship to Shore Phono Co really put their heart into this release, and it shows in the details. The album is housed in a single sleeve, medium stock, with original cover art on the front and back. Inside, there are extensive liner notes by Richard Barone and Paul Williams. The opposite side of the insert has pictures of the cover art from their 45s, as well as pictures of the original master reels. The vinyl is translucent orange, and features a recreation of the classic 3 color Reprise label, which is a very nice touch.