UK-based German singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and home studio guy Roland Ray has the sort of backstory you can't make up, and even better, a self-released psych-pop masterpiece titled "Hot, Cold & Blue" to his name. Don't you love it when the music lives up to the yarn? As the story goes, Roland fled his hometown of Hannover, Germany, in the sixties after a gang of local pimps tried to kidnap his girlfriend from his house.
They attempted to cross the border to England, but Roland was denied access for seeking musical employment without a work permit. The next few years were spent busking as an itinerant musician throughout Brussels, Antwerp, Lyon, and Paris. He briefly spent some time as a prog/psych rock DJ in Amsterdam in the early 70s before finally gaining entry to the UK, where he became a full-time musician in London.
Roland built a home studio in a rundown flat in West Hampstead, rubbed shoulders with Robert Palmer, Daddy Longlegs, and Thin Lizzy, and played gigs around the area in a blues psych outfit called Loony Q. After band members started dropping away, Roland smuggled an 8-track recorder across the border from Brussels and set about recording his own handspun pop record, "Hot, Cold, & Blue". The album went through several iterations and was passed on for release by EMI before Roland decided to press and release it himself.
The result was a collection of nine buoyant and playful numbers where drum machine disco, melody and falsetto folk-rock, fuzzy psychedelia and saxophone dovetail together into a joyful sound. The squelchy synth song 'Hot Cold Temperament' led the way, and recording by recording, Roland dreamed up something intensely charismatic and special. Sadly, however - perhaps ahead of its time - after release in 1985, "Hot, Cold, & Blue" essentially sank without a trace.
Luckily though, Roland held onto those unsold copies of the LP. Thanks to the Santa Cruz, California-based archival project Smiling C, those deadstock records and a digitized version of the album are available for purchase on Bandcamp now. "Hot, Cold & Blue" is a lot of fun - spend some time with it; you'll see.
"Hot, Cold & Blue" is available for digital and vinyl purchase through Smiling C (here)