The C.A. Quintet “Trip Thru Hell”

Trip Thru Hell

The C.A. Quintet’s Trip Thru Hell is one of the most unique LPs from the 60s. It was a small indie pressing of under 500 from the Candy Floss label, making it a very rare 1968/1969 release. Originals will set you back a pretty penny (possibly over $1,000) but are worth it considering the CD version does not faithfully recreate the back side of the LP.

Prior to this LP, the Minneapolis-based C.A. Quintet had released a few respectable, though restrained, garage rock singles. Then something tweaked in the mind of Ken Erwin, the mastermind behind the Quintet, and the band’s frat rock would become infused with a dark, weird edge.  The Trip came housed in a classic, striking jacket and was a truly original acid concept album chronicling the hells of earth. It’s an album that takes you into another world, another mind, and there are some deep, lysergic excursions to behold.  The title track is a 9-minute instrumental with a prominent bass groove, angelic and eerie background vocals, shimmering organ, a suprisingly effective phased drum solo, and demented guitar distortions. The track may not sound as demonic as its title implies, but  it was unlike anything recorded before or since, and certainly worth the trip.  “Cold Spider” has Ken Erwin screaming his lungs out over some nice whacked out raga leads and Hendrix-style feedback. They bust out the brass for “Colorado,” “Sleepy Hollow Lane,” “Smooth As Silk,” “Trip Thru Hell (Part 2)” and “Underground Music,” which are dark oddities and compelling highlights.

Listening to this record may be an overwhelming experience for some, so in one sense it’s definitely an acquired taste. It’s pure psychedelia with a strong vision, and does not fit the ‘incredibly strange music’ tag at all. The C.A. Quintet were an engmatic band that was full of life but by the end of the 60s they faded into obscurity.  A 2LP vinyl reissue is available from Sundazed.

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“Underground Music”

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  • An overwhelming experience indeed!

    Here’s a blog we just published about this “lost” LP if you want to check it out:


  • Len Liechti

    Phew! Sounds like the rock version of Dante’s Inferno, or Arthur Brown with real attitude. After reading this review and Katie’s sensational blog writeup I just had to order a copy. Look for a comment soon.
    Re the recent discussions about various formats, it’s clear to me that one major advantage of the digital revolution is that we’re so fortunate to be able to obtain reissues of stuff like this so easily, because setting up a limited reissue run on CD is so easy productionwise. I still recall the late sixties and early seventies when, if you discovered an artist you liked and tried to obtain their earlier releases, unless it was somebody really big like the Beatles you hit a brick wall because these had been deleted already – the result of predetermined quantity vinyl pressing and the expense of setting up limited volume repressings on vinyl. I love CD, and I love the Internet for giving me access to info on records like this one.

  • Steven

    Vinyl reissue (w/ LPs worth of bonus material) available through
    Sundazed Records:
    Highly Recommended – a great trip!

  • Len Liechti

    OK: got it, played it, love it, wow! Psych meets prog meets Motown meets mariachi. Who’d have thought a trip through hell could sound so funky? Lots of splendid studio trickery too – Steve Longman obviously had the George Martin / Eddie Kramer handbook. The outtakes and alternative versions are mostly excellent too. The Sundazed reissue listing has as an unlisted final track something that sounds like a local radio plug for an early Quintet gig. And didn’t they look cutesy in those matching frat rock uniforms? Bet they were glad to get rid of those! Just one tiny grouse – why do you guys back there in the Colonies insist on putting those almost-unremovable gummy security strips on the tops of your CD jewel cases? They really suck!

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