In this segment I attempt to shed some light on lost or forgotten records that are nonetheless important to be aware of. If there ever was a band worthy of a renaissance, it’s Mansfield Ohio’s Top Drawer. I stumbled upon their music a while back in a murky bar in Gothenburg, where a guy was spinning an eclectic mix of records that I’m fairly certain no one else in the bar had heard of. Towards the end of the set he put on an expansive psychedelic masterpiece that sounded like nothing I’ve ever heard. It was simply too good to pass by, so I ended up asking the guy what it was. He told me that he knew nothing about the band or the song, but it was the first track on a compilation entitled Forge Your Own Chains released via Now-Again Records. After a bit of research, it came to my attention that the track, entitled “Song of a Sinner”, was releases circa 1969-70 along with a whole album Solid Oak – self-recorded and self-pressed by a band called Top Drawer at Fultz Recording Studio in Kentucky. Only 500 copies where pressed and the much sought after original pressing is probably worth a small fortune if you happen to be one of the lucky few that own a copy in mint condition. Solid Oak did however get two additional pressings; one in 1983 by Wish Bon records, and one in 2010 by Still Looking Records.
After the release of Solid Oak, Top Drawer quickly vanished into thin air and it seems that no one in the band have ever stepped forward to talk about their music or their sudden disappearance, which ultimately was Now-Again Records whole purpose of including “Song Of A Sinner” on the compilation in the first place.
Top Drawer was an amazingly talented band and it’s our collective loss that they never quite fulfilled their potential. But I kid you not; “Song of a Sinner” is one of the greatest psychedelic rock epics ever made, and the mid-blowing guitar play will forever witness of that. But there’s much more than “Song of a Sinner” to dig into (just listen to “Sweet Memories” and “Lies” for evidence). While it may be hard to track down Solid Oak on vinyl (although you can try here), it’s actually available for streaming via Spotify.