Although Henske and Yester are both well-known, this one-off collaboration under the group name â€œRosebudâ€ has remained surprisingly obscure. Henske had come up through the coffee houses and folk revival of the early â€˜60s, notching a pair of albums for the Elektra label in 1963-4. Yester had likewise played the folk clubs, with his brother Jim and as a member of the New Christy Minstrels and Modern Folk Quartet, before finding even greater commercial success as a producer. Henske, Yester and Zal Yanovsky (whom Yester had replaced in the Lovinâ€™ Spoonful) released the eclectic Farewell Aldebaran on Frank Zappaâ€™s Straight label, and two years later Henske and Yester teamed with Craig Doerge, David Vaught and John Seiter for this short-lived groupâ€™s one and only album.
Rosebud retains the musical eclecticism of Farewell Aldebaran, though not its sonic experimentation. The album is highlighted by the groupâ€™s tight execution of Yesterâ€™s superb vocal charts, and though Henskeâ€™s extraordinary voice is prominently featured, Yester, Doerge and Seiter all get leads. The songs, written by various groupings of Henske, Yester and Doerge, fit the singer-songwriter vibe of early â€˜70s Southern California, with touches of country rock and 1960s San Francisco. â€œRoll Home Cheyanneâ€ is redolent with the atmosphere of big sky country, and â€œRenoâ€ (included here in both its album and single versions) would have fit easily into the Jefferson Airplaneâ€™s set. The harmonies take a baroque turn for the harpsichord-lined â€œLullabye IIâ€ and to gospel rock with â€œSalvation.â€
The albumâ€™s emotional high point comes in the chorus of â€œWestern Wisconsinâ€ as the groupâ€™s harmony singing vanquishes any hint of treacle in the lyricsâ€™ sentiment. The legendary steel player Buddy Emmons is heard on â€œYum Yum Man,â€ and again on the bonus track â€œEasy On Me, Easy.â€ Though justly proud of their album, the group split after only a few live performances, amid Henskeâ€™s separation from Yester, and before the group gained any traction. Most listeners will be surprised by the groupâ€™s mere existence, but those already familiar with the album will be shocked by the quality of the material that was left in the vault. Omnivore doubles the albumâ€™s original ten tracks with singles and seven previously unreleased recordings, along with new liners by Barry Alfonso. [Â©2017 Hyperbolium]