The C.A. Quintet “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.