Archive for the ‘ Psych ’ Category

The Insect Trust “The Insect Trust”

The insect Trust

The Insect Trust’s only two albums are a great example of what today would be called wyrd America. Back then, such terms did not exist and even still, it’s unfair to label this individualistic band.

They were often compared to San Fransisco bands such as the pioneering Jefferson Airplane, although this comparison really doesn’t do them justice. Hoboken Saturday Night (1970), the band’s sophomore effort usually gets the nod, or at least the most attention. Though it must be mentioned that most fans forget about this startling, groundbreaking debut.

They were a classic east coast band taking in a multitude of influences from folk, blues, psychedelia, rock n’ roll, country, jazz, ragtime and bluegrass. Nancy Jefferies had a strong, clear voice while Bill Barth and Bob Palmer were always experimenting with exotic instruments. Skin Game is typical of their approach, starting off as a country blues shuffle then exploding into a slide guitar freakout that is quite marvelous. Miss Fun City is a trippy slice of Americana with some great hypnotic banjo, a most excellent composition! Be Here And Gone So Soon, has to be the most classic track on this legendary album. It opens up with some classic hippy dialogue, then bursts into a magical folk-rock song.

Anyone searching for a good organic slice of authentic American music along the lines of the Dillard and Clark Expedition, Robbie Basho’s Zarthus or Bob Dylan and the Band’s Basement Tapes will love this classic from 1968.

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“Miss Fun City”

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Bobb Trimble “Iron Curtain Innocence”

Iron Curtain Innocence

There is nobody quite like Bobb Trimble in the world of rock n roll. Trimble released two great underappreciated records in the early 80s (private press – real lo-fi). His vision is very deep, personal, and absolutely original with a strong outsider, late night feel. His music was totally out of sync with the times but Bobb waved the psych flag high and proud and managed to find an audience among 60s record collectors.

The sound of Iron Curtain Innocence is unique, but somehow timeless, and it defies much of the genre categorization I have often found simple. The songcraft takes a few spins to rest comfortably in your head (music that wants to belong deep in your psyche), but when they take hold they root in deep.

Bobb seems to craft his albums around one song; in this case it’s “One Mile From Heaven.” This track recently got to me in a way like my all time favorite, “God Only Knows.” It’s not the spiritual references, I don’t think, though both tracks indeed have ethereal qualities. It’s just one of those records that makes you want to cry for no reason at all, when it hits you in the right spot, at the right time.

On Bobb’s 1982 Harvest of Dreams it’s “Premonitions.” Both songs appear twice at the beginning and end of side 1, with separate, but similar versions. The effect of this technique is quite grabbing, and it gets you diving back into Bobb’s world whenever you get the chance.

Some consider Harvest of Dreams the greatest psych album after 1975. It’s full of beautiful dreamy tunes like “Take Me Home Vienna” and the killer opener “Premonitions – The Fantasy.” “Selling Me Short” is superb, and it’s exciting to hear Trimble explode in anger nearing the song’s chaotic fuzzy ending.

Before these records saw release on Secretly Canadian, they had been bootlegged by Radioactive Records, also known as Fallout Records (please do not buy Fallout or Radioactive!). But thanks to the work of good people like Kris Thompson and Douglas McGowan both of Bobb’s albums are finally legitimately available in CD and vinyl reissues. Excellent stuff and highly recommended.

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“One Mile From Heaven (Short Version)”

Aside: Is it just me, or are there Wizard of Oz references sprinkled throughout this record?

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Poe “Up Through The Spiral”

Up Through The Spiral

This is a pretty good late period hard rock psych concept LP that few people know about. Poe originally were the Playboys of Edinburg, a McAllen Texas band who began releasing singles in 1965. The Playboys of Edinburg released 7 or 8 singles in various pop rock styles (garage, beat, folk-rock and hard rock) throughout the 1960′s and eventually relocated to Houston.

For this 1970/71 UNI release the Playboys of Edinburg changed their name to Poe and created this concept lp. Many of the songs were written and arranged by band members McCord and Williams. The album chronicles the life and thoughts of Edgar Cayce, a man who could put himself into some kind of self-induced sleep state by lying down on a couch, closing his eyes, and folding his hands over his stomach. This state of relaxation and meditation enabled him to place his mind in contact with all time and space.

No song better illustrates this theme than the great Up Up Thru The Spiral. This track opens with classic paisley guitar riffs and one of the all time great opening psych lines which refers to Cayce’s incredible ability. Up Up Thru The Spiral is also notable for a horn arrangement, distorted vocals and what sounds like tape loop experimentations. This is flat out a great psych pop track with an English sound similar to that of the Move. Other tracks like the futuristic psych of Automatic Writing, Tune In, the furious Sons of Belial, and Fallin’ Off are pretty vicious and rock hard. Fallin’ Off is more than a nod to English rock group Free, with it’s great, heavy guitar riffs, gritty vocals and sound fx explosion mid way thru the track. This song sounds like a lost classic rock radio hit and had considerable pop appeal, it’s definitely a good one! The lead off track, There Is A River reveals a strong gospel influence and has George Harrison style guitar playing and Beatlesque harmonies. Another reflective number, Debt To Pay is a really good acoustic song with sweet, sugary harmonies and a personal favorite.

This is a solid set from an unknown band who can balance soft reflective tunes with druggy, stoned hard rockers. Vinyl orginals are somewhat cheap although the album saw a cd reissue in 2006 off the Mr. Nobody record label.

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“Up Up Through The Spiral”

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The Savage Rose “Savage Rose”

Savage Rose

This is one of the great rock albums from 1968. Denmark’s Savage Rose are one of the greatest European experimental, progressive bands with a career that successfully spans over 40 years. Legendary rock critic Lester Bangs ranted and raved over the Rose and lead singer Anisette’s stunning vocal approach. He once described the frightening, powerhouse lead singer: “Grace Slick at 78 RPM”; “Minnie Mouse on a belladonna jag” and claimed that the band’s early 70′s album Refugee alongside 71′s Who’s Next, were a reason to believe in the magic and life force of rock & roll.

The band was formed in 1967 by songwriters Thomas and Anders Koppel (keyboards, piano and harpsichord) and drummer Alex Riel. Their sound was organ/keyboard dominated but guitarist Flemming Ostermann lent a helping hand with some wonderful jazz influenced guitar licks. This stunning debut appeared a year later featuring 11 strong tracks straight from the streets of Demark. Incredible songs like A Girl I Once Knew, You’ll Be Alright and Open Air Shop are highlighted by Annisette’s wailing vocals but it’s the arrangements that are equally brilliant and a breath of fresh air. Some people refer to this disc as psychedelic but that’s not really the case as there are no whacked out studio sound effects, phased vocals, raga guitar solos and the like. Many of the songs are strongly influenced by European folk, jazz, classical and soul music though the organ playing occasionally delves into some trippy, underwater soundscapes. Other tracks like Sleep and You Be Free are beautiful, dreamy statements that drift away in a Euro haze but are equally as good as the more intense, hard rocking numbers.

This record is strong all over with impressive musicianship, excellent tracks, diversity and of course, great songwriting. It’s also worth noting that in recent years the band as well as Anisette’s vocal style have provided a major inspiration to many of the new folk and progressive artists. The Savage Rose’s first 8 albums are all worth getting but it’s In The Plain (68-), Your Daily Gift (71), Refugee (71), the progressive Dodens Triumf (72) and this fabulous debut that are considered great Euro rock classics.

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“Open Air Shop”

Below is a track from the Your Daily Gift album. Unfold deserves special attention because not only is it a great track but it shows the band taking in an experimental C&W influence. Anisette’s vocals sound weathered, wise, and fantastic and Unfold is also notable for a fine harpsichord intro.

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“Unfold”

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Os Mutantes “Mutantes”

Mutantes

Any Mutantes record is a mind-blower and this one makes an unforgettable introduction. The music and voice of Os Mutantes transcends any language barrier such that even the most literary of music fans can still fall deep for these dazzling sounds. David Byrne, who reissued an anthology of the Mutants on his Luaka Bop label, seems to back this sentiment up in the fantastic liner notes to Stop Making Sense: “Singing is a trick to get people to listen to music for longer than they would ordinarily.” One phrase echoes in my head when I listen to Os Mutantes: ‘better than the Beatles.’

Though greatly inspired by them, Os Mutantes expanded the music further than The Beatles were capable, and still maintained the disparate elements of pop song and art form. Laced with the sexiest assortment of fuzz tones and electronic effects, the production is startling and the compositions are eclectic, addictive, and lovely.

Os Mutantes’ history is as complex and interesting as their music; they are one of the best known bands of the Tropicália movement and aimed straight at the frightening political climate of Brazil 1968. With no small thanks to Byrne’s efforts, serious interest in their music led the band to reform and they are performing and releasing new records today.

No serious rock collection overlooks the Mutants. At the same time, the joy in their music should appeal universally and to all tastes.

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“Nao Va Se Perder Por Ai”

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Kak “Kak”

Kak

Kak’s only release is a solid West Coast album with strong Moby Grape and garage rock influences. I am not totally sold on the Kak album but I feel it’s at least very good, not really a classic work by any means, although some people swear by it.

Group members included Dehner C. Patton on lead guitar, Gary L Yoder rhythm guitar and lead vocals, Joseph D Damrell bass guitar, sitar, and tambourine, and Christopher A. Lockheed drums, tabla, and harpsichord. Kak resided in San Fransisco and while their existence proved to be brief, the Yoder/Patton guitar combo was pretty potent – they could rock out relentlessly but also hit you with a certain charm. Yoder was notable for playing in the legendary garage psych band the Oxford Circle, who released the awesome Foolish Woman single in1966 and were a feared live band.

The Kak album begins with three outstanding, garage-like San Fransisco ravers that bear out Yoder’s roots. Everything Changes is a personal favorite with a classic hard charging San Fran acid rock vibe very similar to Moby Grape but it’s Electric Sailor that is often cited as a renowned psychedelic classic. This track is pure late period garage rock at its finest including pounding drums, an incredible acid solo, light feedback, childish lyrics, and a great catchy chorus. The album opener HCO 97658 is very similar and pretty good, pounding briefly for about a minute and forty seconds. Other songs like I’ve Got Time and Flowing By have more of a country folk-rock vibe that took me a while to get into, but I now appreciate these tracks and the diversity of this album. Trieulogy is the album’s longest and strangest track at 8 plus minutes, but a good acid rock suite with sitars and great psychedelic solos. A piece of this suite, Rain was released as a single and is a very good slice of speed-induced guitar psych. The last track off the album, Lemonaide Kid received lots of radio play years ago and is a good Dylan influenced folk-rocker with sitar and tabla.

Overall, this is a very good album without any dud tracks, the musicians are topflight and there are some great acid ballroom antics, though I would not recommend this disc to new psych fans. A 1999 Big Beat reissue is the easiest way to obtain this obscure record.

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“Electric Sailor”

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Simply Saucer “Cyborgs Revisited”

Cyborgs Revisited

Quite simply, this is one of the best proto-punk albums out there. Cyborgs Revisted is equal parts Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd garage psych raunch and early Velvet Underground art-rock sophistication, sounding well ahead of the game and almost too good to be true. It’s a fabulous record that few people have heard, and will appeal to adventurous listeners who are tired of today’s top 40 garbage.

Simply Saucer formed in Hamilton, Canada (Ontario), releasing just one single in 1978 and playing live shows throughout the region. I don’t think Cyborg’s Revisited was officially released during the mid 70′s. I do know that in 1989 an lp version appeared featuring 9 songs. In 2001/2002 a cd version of Cyborg’s revisited was reissued, containing the full album as well as live cuts, their lone single and raw demos. Most of the cuts featured on the 1989 lp (which are the first 9 tracks of the cd) were recorded in 1974. Edgar Breau was the brains behind Simply Saucer writing all the band’s material, singing lead vocals and playing guitar.

Many of these songs are highly experimental within a garage rock format using theremin, audio generators, and other primitive electronics. Electro Rock showcases this experimental aspect of the band with great results and also highlights some exceptional guitar work. Instant Pleasure is a great, brief track as well, with Syd Barrett type vocals and guitar noise mayhem. On Bullet Proof Nothing the band pulls off a great acoustic rocker that sounds like a Lou Reed Loaded era outtake. I can’t see anyone into early Pink Floyd, the Stooges, the Velvet Underground or Can not liking this record.

Simply Saucer has also proven to be influential to popular artists such as the Dream Syndicate’s Steve Wynn who quotes the She’s A Dog 45 as one of his all-time favorites. Other bands of this ilk worth checking out are Debris’, George Brigman, the Electric Eels, the Mirrors, Styrenes, and Rocket From The Tombs.

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“Instant Pleasure”

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Aorta “Aorta”

Aorta

Aorta was a highly talented rock band from Rockford, IL that released two albums throughout 1969 and 1970. The band was originally known as the Exceptions, a popular soul rock group that played around the Chicago area and released a handful of singles. It’s interesting to note that the Exceptions had at one time included future members of H.P. Lovecraft (another great Chicago psych band), the New Colony Six, Chicago, The Buckinghams, and Illinois Speed Press. The Exceptions eventually morphed into Aorta when band members felt a more progressive direction was needed.

In 1969 Columbia released this startling record which was a mix of psychedelia, soul, jazz, folk, and rock. The album was housed in a beautiful, graphic sleeve that has always overshadowed the great music from within. Musically speaking, Aorta’s sound comes close to Boston band Listening or even the more psychedelic aspects of early Blood, Sweat and Tears during its Al Kooper phase. There seems to be some kind of concept that reoccurs under the Mein Vein theme. Aorta is solid throughout though, featuring strong musicianship, inventive studio wizardry, superb songs with a healthy dose of fuzz guitar and wonderful string and horn arrangements.

Some songs like Heart Attack and Ode To Missy Mxyzosptlk have lots of organ and are very early stabs at what would later be coined progressive rock. Ode to Missy has some intense guitar solos and a great studio psych out ending that will put your stereo speakers on overdrive. A personal favorite is the more restrained Sprinkle Road to Cork Street, which is a dramatic folk-rock track with horns and a beautiful medieval-like intro. Trippier tracks like the spooky Catalyptic with its ethereal, acid church organ work extremely well too and make it clear that these guys could play any style of music well. What’s In My Mind’s Eye is a great lost piece of psychedelic pop that has really cool disembodied vocals and a prominent horn arrangement.

Aorta may seem grandiose and even downright indulgent at times but make no mistake this really is a great lost record. Vinyl originals are easy to come by and sell relatively cheap on Ebay as Aorta was a very popular local band. Both albums have even been reissued on CD a few years back and more recently as a digital download. Conclusion: definitely pick this great album up if you’re looking for some far out, wild psychedelia with a hint of early progressive rock.

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“What’s In My Minds Eye”

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Love “Forever Changes”

Forever Changes

I think everybody must remember where they were the first time they heard Alone Again Or. For me it was a high school summer, driving my car, just marveling at the beautiful guitar line and mariachi rhythms, and the building drama of the chorus that goes so close to the top and never over. Any sucker riding shotgun over the next two months would be subjected to this powerhouse lead-off track from Love’s third record.

It’s important to not let Alone Again Or overshadow the rest of this classic disc. The masterful songs on Forever Changes manage to accept and transcend the sound of the era. In a Los Angeles scene where the Byrds were absent heroes and the Doors would shortly become immensely more popular, Love was and will remain the coolest, baddest group from this time and place.

Forever Changes is one of those albums where every moment of sound is as thoughtful as the last. The tunes are led with an acoustic rock combo and string orchestra with horns. Lyrically, the album represents both the light and dark sides of the 60s; these were reportedly Arthur Lee’s last words, as he believed he was soon going to die, and in reality his band was falling apart.

Tracks like Maybe The People Would Be The Times Or Between Clark And Hilldale drive with a southern California sound forged by Love, part folk-psych and nearly part tropicalia. Lee’s voice is authoritative but welcoming on A House Is Not A Motel and lean electric guitar leads provide quintessential psych sounds. The poetry can get dark sometimes, in The Red Telephone with its suicidal hint, but it remains somewhat down-to-earth when “The snot has caked against my pants…” opens Live And Let Live.

I have read all manner of scandal from contemporaries of Love, including one wondering why the band hadn’t chosen Hate for their band name. Their story, revolving around the genius of Arthur Lee won’t equal the story told on this record; while not a concept album or rock opera, it gives an eerie glow of some tale, or lesson never learned. A beautiful, haunting suite.

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“Maybe The People Would Be The Times Or Between Clark And Hilldale”

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Embryo “We Keep On”

We Keep On

Embryo are a brilliant Krautrock band that began in the late 60′s, creatively flourished throughout the 70′s and are still making great music today. While contemporaries the Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk pioneered electronic rock and Can were content exploring the avant garde fringe elements, Embryo favored a jazzy form of space rock with very strong elements of world music.

Christian Burchard has always remained the constant throughout Embryo’s long, varied career. On this recording he is the lead vocalist and also plays mellotron, vibraphone, percussion, drums, keyboards, marimba, mellophonium, bass, guitar, and saz. We Keep On is often regarded as Embryo’s masterpiece, an overwhelming lp mining West African rhythms that reach deep into unexplored regions of your mind. Burchard’s vocals are strange and unconventional in an almost proto new-wave way. The first song, Abdul Malek, sounds like nothing I have ever heard before and should really appeal to psych fans (take note of the acoustic raga riffs) even though this is a 1973 release. Don’t Come Tomorrow is another good trancey song with understated mellotron, piano, vibes, and interesting bamboo flute courtesy of Charlie Mariano.

The lp is divided evenly between instrumentals and vocal tracks (there are 6 songs in total and 2 extra on the recent reissue by Disconforme). No Place To Go features crazed Burchard vocals and some fabulous jazz guitar playing while other tracks like Hackbrett-Dance and Flute and Saz tap into something new and totally original. In 1975 Miles Davis had this to say about Embryo, “That German hippy group where Mal Waldron used to play; they are doing interesting things. You know, man? They are good musicians, just playing good shit!” This was the ultimate compliment coming from a jazz master and a good enough reason to check out this great, lost album.

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“Abdul Malek”

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