Dave Bixby: Ode to Quetzalcoatl / Harbinger: Second Coming

Dave Bixby

For collectors of the downer/loner folk movement of the late ’60s, mostly recorded by regional artists on private press labels, the solo debut from Michigan garage rocker-turned-born-again Xian Dave Bixby is their “Butcher Cover”, going for upwards of $2,000 on eBay. Carefully remastered from a mint-condition vinyl pressing, as no master tapes exist of this haunting 1969 gem of an album, Ode to Quetzalcoatl sounds more arresting than ever. Recorded after he spent a year playing solo and experimenting with LSD, Bixby laid down this album in a living room with the bare bones of amenities. Supported with nothing more than an acoustic guitar, the occasional flute, harmonica and the echo of his voice against a reel-to-reel tape machine, Bixby relies on the strength of his deeply faithful lyrics rooted in the Book of Revelations and the artist’s own personal drug-fueled Armageddon to carry his songs through the night.

Recorded at the same time as Quetzalocatl and under the name Harbinger, Second Coming might boast a fuller sound than Bixby’s solo material. It was recorded in an actual studio and supported by the likes of guitarist Brian MacInness, singer Sandy Johnson and bassist Dan DeGraaf, who was also widely known throughout the Midwest as the leader of a controversial religious sect called “the Group” that, for a little while, counted Bixby as one of its members. While Second Coming might sound more spiritual than Quetzalcoatl, the psychedelic atmosphere that haunts that album is also apparent on this one, too, as songs like “Time to Clear Your Mind” and “Open Doors” play out like biblical scriptures rewritten on sheets of high-powered blotter acid. If Christian music sounded more like this, Sunday mass would be a lot more inviting.

RATING 6 / 10