Posts Tagged ‘ 1968 ’

PODCAST 26 Garage,Pop

 

I Want to Hold Your Hand (1968-) – The Moving Sidewalks
Naughty Girl (1965/1966) – The Missing Links
Sad and Lonely and Blue (1966) – The Easybeats
I’m On Fire (1968-) – The Easybeats
Calm Me Down (1966) – The Human Expression

Her Face (1966/1967) – Steve Ellis and the Starfires
You Lied To Me Before (1966) – The Treez
You’re Too Young (1965) – The Vagrants
I’ll Come To You (1967) – The Elite
Gone To The Moon (1966) – The Savages
Out of the Question (1967 – from the Future LP) – The Seeds

Download: Podcast26.mp3
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The Ace of Cups “It’s Bad For You But Buy It”

San Francisco’s the Ace Of Cups deserves mention in these pages because the band occupies a singular place in rock history. It wasn’t the first all-female self-contained rock outfit to achieve public recognition; elsewhere on this site you’ll find mention of the Liverbirds, one of several all-girl groups playing their own instruments who came out of Liverpool during the British Beat Boom. But the Ace Of Cups, whose name derives from the eponymous Tarot card, is generally acknowledged as the first female rock band anywhere to truly gain the recognition of its (male) peers, and to share stages and theatres with its top-flight contemporaries. You can see the Ace playing live in the Haight in Jack O’Connell’s quasi-documentary hippie film Revolution (1968-); inter alia, they perform alongside Country Joe & The Fish, the Steve Miller Band and Quicksilver Messenger Service. And these are not just five doe-eyed, flaxen-haired hippie chicks doing it wistfully; they’re full-on female Rolling Stones wannabes, sassy, sexy and unashamedly beating seven bells out of their equipment. The excellent liner note of the present CD lists many of their other onstage and offstage companions, most notably Jimi Hendrix, Mike Bloomfield, Ralph Gleason, Jann Wenner, the Sons Of Champlin, Steppenwolf, the Band, the Dead and the Airplane. You didn’t move in much higher company than that in ’68 San Fran.

Onstage the focus was on raw excitement rather than virtuosity and the visual centrepoint was usually diminutive Denise Kaufman, sneeringly intoning the lyrics from behind an enormous Gibson Tal Farlow jazzbox or blowing a blueswailing harp. Musically the strongest areas were the muscular jazz-punk organ work of Marla Hunt – sort of Jimmy Smith meets the Mysterians ­- and the choral-quality harmony vocals of all five protagonists, stemming from a seam of gospel that ran through their otherwise British Invasion and Stax soul-influenced repertoire. Their recorded legacy rambles from the garage R’n’B of “Glue” – a witty attack on conventional society values – and “Stones” – an unabashed paean to the Rolling Ones – through the five-part acapella “Music” and a rocked-up, organ-dominated cover of Mongo Santamaria’s “Afro Blue” to the pure funk-rock of “Circles” and the minor-key bluesy soul of “Simplicity”.

Notwwithstanding all of which the present CD, released in 2003, is the first time the sound of the Ace Of Cups has been available on record, and that’s because despite their celebrity around the hotspot that was the late 60’s Bay Area the Ace never managed to visit the inside of a professional recording studio. Several labels showed interest in signing them in the early days but manager Ron Polte insisted in holding out, supposedly to allow the band to develop their sound further before committing to wax, but in reality for better deals. As it turned out, he held out too long. By the time they achieved a really consistent standard around 1969 the offers were still there but at that time an almost universal condition of a contract was an undertaking to tour nationally and heavily to promote the album, and by then some band members had become mothers. The original lineup splintered soon after, quoting reluctance to take their new families on the road and disillusionment with the corruption and decay of the Haight scene. An Ace Of Cups of sorts lingered on until 1972 with revised lineups that included male players. The present CD was assembled by the Big Beat subsidiary of the UK’s estimable Ace Records from sundry demos, rehearsal room tapes and live and TV recordings by the original lineup. It has to be said that because of their sources the sound quality, and indeed the warts-and-all singing and playing, of some of the earlier tracks leaves a lot to be desired, but their historic nature and their intractable energy make them essential listening for students of the golden age of West Coast Rock. Someone out there certainly likes the Ace Of Cups, because you can find several musical photomontages, a scruffy but engaging clip from the Revolution movie and a couple of clips from Gleason’s TV documentary West Pole on YouTube.

mp3: Circles
mp3: Simplicity

:D Compilation | 2003 | Big Beat | buy it here ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

Groep 1850 “Agemo’s Trip to Mother Earth”

It’s finding rare gems like this that makes trudging through the dross in charity shop CD racks so addictive. I stumbled with fascination upon Agemo’s Trip To Mother Earth with its blurry, greyish cover photo depicting a large group of hippie folk of various ages. At first I thought it was by some retro psych outfit from the 90s, but a little research online revealed Groep 1850 to be a genuine 1960s psychedelic rock band from the Netherlands. Originally founded in 1964 as R’n’B group the Klits – being an abbreviation of “Klitoris”, meaning exactly what you think it means – they changed their name to Groep 1850 – “Groep” for “group”, “1850” not explained – and, following several stylish freakbeat and psychedelic singles, released their debut album on Philips in 1968.

Lyrically based around the hippie-dippy saga of Agemo, son of Dog from the Nirvana-like planet Irotas, who visits Earth to experience the urban paranoia and depravity of modern life, the album’s musical motifs draw shamelessly on Saucerful Of Secrets-era Pink Floyd but also evince a powerful West Coast acid rock influence. There is too a healthy dose of humour not present in either the Floyd’s straightlaced presentation or the similarly unsmiling Californian product, exacerbated by the band’s singing in strongly accented English with occasional Dutch interjections; clearly evident is the combination of instrumental virtuosity and vocal weirdness that would produce commercial success for their compatriots Focus a few years later. Peter Sjardin’s keyboard work is workmanlike and mostly mixed well back, but the lead guitar of Daniël van Bergen is unique and strongly forefronted, with penchants for atonality and sustain. Beer Klasse’s trapwork is also excellent, being simultaneously duck’s-arse-tight and jazzily freeform. The production by Hans van Hemert is splendidly sympathetic to the band’s psychedelic direction, with heavily treated vocals, sound effects, found sounds, phasing, stereo panning and all the tricks of the studio wholeheartedly employed.

An introductory metallic racket gives way to the acid-pop of opener “Steel Sings” as hard guitar chords and flying-saucer electronic bleeps announce Agemo’s arrival on Earth. “Little Fly” is heralded by the groan of an ancient door’s hinges and a female voice intones a brief litany before thudding drums, oriental Hammond licks and coruscating guitar frame the song’s stately harmony vocals. “You Did It Too Hard” is a brief nonsense item with a cheerful riff and honking saxes giving way to a gibberish dialogue by gnomish voices. The closing “Refound” and “Reborn” form a two-piece suite in a soft, hallucinogenic vein reminiscent of the Floyd’s “Cirrus Minor” with acoustic guitars and flutes accompanying the dreamy harmonised voices. The undoubted high spot is the astonishing procession of sounds that makes up the thirteen-minute full-blown musical acid trip “I Put My Hands On Your Shoulder”, including infinitely sustained guitar, crazy, reverbed harmonica, swooping keyboard expeditions and a disembodied, demented bilingual dialogue over a stuttering, heavily flanged drum solo before ending with a clap of thunder – a wigged-out mess that really works.

The album was released in Northern Europe and the UK (anglicised as Group 1850), but it barely sold at home and tanked totally everywhere else. Somehow they managed to cobble together a second studio collection, Paradise Now, more progressive and doomy but quality-wise as good as Agemo, plus a live set, but these sadly went the same way. Sjardin struggled on with different lineups until 1975, releasing a couple more albums in a jazz-rock vein before bowing to the inevitable. There’s not a huge amount of information about Groep 1850 out in cyberspace but a good critical discography can be found here.

Belatedly recognised as a European psych landmark, Agemo has had three CD reissues, the latest a 2002 budget offering on the Rotation imprint which appears to be a legit license. As well as Agemo’s seven songs this offers nine excellent pre-Agemo bonus tracks including the brilliantly absurd “Mother No-Head”, built around the melody of “Frère Jacques” and provided with alternative English and French lyrics. Oh, and that blurry album cover? It was originally offered in 3-D, with a free pair of 3-D specs thrown in. Sadly the reissue doesn’t reproduce that imaginative feature.

mp3: Little Fly
mp3: You Did It Too Hard

:) Original | 1968 | Philips | search ebay ]
:D Reissue | 2002 | Rotation | buy here ]

Suzanne Ciani “Lixiviation”

Suzanne Ciani is probably best known today for her grammy nominated new-age records. That legion of fans may not be prepared for her latest comp from B-Music/Finders Keepers which explores her earlier, pioneering work composing synthesized soundscapes and logos. It’s this part of Ciani’s career I find most interesting and Lixiviation 1968-1985 curates a fine selection of tracks that will appeal to fans of early electronic experiments and electronic music in general.

Not a typical record, but rather a selection of cleverly sequenced tracks combining short audio logos with lengthy soundscapes for an album-like listening experience. Sprinkled with brilliant sonic logos like the famous “Coca Cola Pop & Pour” and “Atari Corporate Tag,” 30-60 second spots for adventurous sponsors like “Clean Room ITT TV” and “Almay Eclipse,” and four or five non-commercial pieces teetering between psychedelia and ambient music. The title track swerves from introductory blips and effects to a beautifully filtered odd meter sequence. “Paris 1971” explores droning pads and softly shifting wind sounds a full six minutes without becoming a bore. The buzzy “Princess With Orange Feet” finds her improvising with tape delay and using full range of the Buchla’s unique touch plate keyboard. It’s Ciani’s ability to guide listeners so delicately through each track, maintaining interest with the simplest changes in timbre and never rushing, that seems to define the masterful touch in these tracks.

Her commercial works really take off in the mid 70s as evidenced by “Discovery Magazine TV Spot,” which sounds especially indicative of electronic music’s future, a fresh sound made with tight delays and sharp sawtooth chords. “Inside Story PBS TV Spot” layers tape edited sound clips over some fancy sequence work; I wish I could hear 4-minute versions of these tracks especially. The spots are indeed short, but merely deserve some repeated listens.

Ciani’s career in synthesized music began after meeting Don Buchla and one of his fantastic modular machines. In the synth world, there is no machine I can think of more imaginative in design, complex in architecture, or more grandly exploratory in sound than any of Buchla’s rare machines. In her interview with the LA times, Ciani recalls her first encounter with its sound:

“Your ears woke up. The frequency spectrum was so much bigger. It had the high end and the very low end, and you could go to the very top and the very bottom. After hearing that, acoustic music seemed to occur along a very narrow path. It wasn’t alive.”

After listening to the full nine minutes of the droning, rich-frequency laden “Second Breath” I was surprised how much waking up my own ears have left to do. Suzanne has since become one of Buchla’s most famous users, as well as helping to make legendary tools such as the Sequential Circuits Prophet 5Roland’s MC-8 sequencer, as well as various voice synth/vocoder technology. While the album runs slightly short, it stands as the best introduction to Ciani’s illustrious, one-of-a-kind career. It’s even available on vinyl with detailed liners. If you like what you hear, make your next find the new-age classic Seven Waves.

mp3: Princess with Orange Feet
mp3: Discover Magazine (TV Spot)

:D CD Comp | 2012 | B-Music | buy from Finders Keepers | amazon ]
:) Vinyl Comp | 2012 B-Music | buy from Finders Keepers ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

Hour Glass “Power of Love”

Some folks out there will tell you that the two records cut for Columbia Records by The Hour Glass, Gregg and Duane Allman’s early west-coast rock and roll band, are nothing but commercial garbage. Don’t listen to them. From the perspective of the rabid, biker-boogieing Allman Brothers fan, The Hour Glass may very well come across as nothing but lysergic flower-child pop, but to the more informed listener a record like The Power of Love is a rare and valuable slice of psychedelic soul; I know that, for this long-time Allman Brothers fan, these Hour Glass recordings have actually edged out that later band’s albums on my turntable by a considerable degree, though I will confess to occasionally missing Duane’s inimitable bottleneck runs.

Cut between reworked songs by southern soul legends like Don Covay, Eddie Hinton and Dan Penn and memorable originals, The Power of Love really does (for lack of loftier language) kick ass from start to finish. Duane Allman’s heavy fuzz guitar and electric sitar may be a world away from the supple slide style that made him a household name, but it does have a vintage appeal of its own, and at the very least manages to display the guitarist’s legendary ear for melody. Meanwhile, Gregg’s singing is as heavy and soulful as it would ever be – just listen as he tears the roof off of songs like “Home” and “I Still Want Your Love,” sounding much more rough-hewn than his tender age would otherwise imply. So many of these tunes had Billboard potential that it blows my mind that this band never managed to take off, whatever record company hassles they were caught up  in at the time.

Some of my personal favorites here include the organ-driven “Changing of the Guard,” the wild, burning take on Eddie Hinton’s “Down In Texas,” and the righteous, reverberating psychedelia of the closing number, “Now Is the Time.” Duane’s solo on that last piece displays a radical controlled feedback tone that really makes it for me, and his sitar spotlight on the group’s jazzy instrumental reading of The Beatles evergreen “Norwegian Wood” is entertaining, if rather inconsequential. After hearing these numbers one almost wishes that more of the artistic eccentricities heard here had carried over into the brothers’ latter-day careers.

The Hour Glass recordings have been repackaged and reissued under a number of different titles, but I’d say the best place to find them is in the comprehensive Hour Glass anthology, originally a double LP released in the early seventies but recently remastered by Beat Goes On Records.

mp3: Still Want Your Love
mp3: Now Is the Time

:) Original | 1968 | Liberty | search ]
:D Reissue | 2001 | BGO | buy ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band “Vol. 3 – A Child’s Guide To Good and Evil”

The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band is one of those remarkable quasi-underground groups from the 1960s which nowadays inspires a sort of obsessive cult interest among certain individuals. As such, there’s been more than enough amateur scholarship written on them for me to safely forgo much of an introduction or studied history (I’d strongly recommend Tim Forster’s comprehensive article). In fact, if it were not for their conspicuous absence on the Rising Storm, I might think that any more ink shed on the band’s records would be a waste of time.

As it stands, however, A Child’s Guide To Good and Evil deserves a place on these pages. Probably the strongest and most representative of the band’s recordings, Child’s Guide is a surreal set of beautiful folk-rock and off-the-wall psychedelic excursions from the mind of notorious west-coast playboy Bob Markley. Don’t be put off by the band’s legendary weirdness, though; hell, any record that opens with as stunning a pop song as “Eighteen Is Over the Hill” should deserve a place in your collection, catholic taste or not. Multi-tracked finger-picked acoustic guitars and wide-open harmonies help drive this piece into one of the catchiest choruses this band ever put to tape. Imagine a hipper, dropped out Simon and Garfunkel and you’re maybe halfway there.

After hooking you with the opener the band slowly starts to indulge more and more in their trademark psychedelics. First comes fuzz-tone bass and pedal-steel on “In the Country,” which happily manages to transcend its overworked “going to the country” theme. Then Ron Morgan’s crackling electric sitar turns up on the two otherwise-unrelated “Ritual” numbers as the band explores such intriguing topics as flowers, beads and babies. Morgan really does seem to have been the band’s secret weapon at this point; his spidery guitar lines – such as those dancing behind the twisted black humor of Markley’s “A Child of A Few Hours Is Burning To Death” – help turn these songs into psychedelic classics. In this last song we also find the Experimental Band’s often-inscrutable lyrics at their most unnerving and most pointed: “we all are nothing but soft moist people, with soft moist hands folded over our buttons,” Markley intones cheerfully before dropping his psychopathic chorus. The Mamas and Papas these guys were not.

So if you ever thought Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band was just way too tame and predictable, then it might do you good to check out the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. All of the records the band released during its short lifetime are worth hearing at least once, from the garage-band hodgepodge that is Volume 1 to the unmitigated Freudian strangeness that is the band’s official swan song, Where’s My Daddy. Markley himself may have been one disturbed cat, but the band’s solid musical prowess was always more than enough to keep his nonsense on target.

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“As the World Rises & Falls”

:) Original | 1968 | Reprise | search ]
:D Reissue | 2001 | Sundazed | buy ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

Southwind (Self-Titled)

The 1968 self-titled debut by California based country rock group Southwind is a rather obscure little gem.  The unique combination of country, psych, soul, funk, and just good old rock & roll turns this record into a stew of great listening, and really makes this record stand out.

The band’s origins can be traced back to Norman, Oklahoma, while members were attending the University of Oklahoma.  Coming together first as a rockabilly-flavored band known as “The Disciples,” the group comprised John “Moon” Martin (guitar, vocals), Jim Pulte (bass, vocals), Phil Hope (organ), and Eric Dalton (drums).  Soon after forming, the band scored an opportunity to play at several venues in Wisconsin to delighted audiences.  In 1967, the band headed out for the musical promised land of Los Angeles, with The Disciples changing their name to the more contemporary-sounding “Southwind.” The newly-named band started incorporating psychedelic rock, country, blues, soul, and funk into their sound.  After playing gigs in and around L.A. for a while, in 1968, Southwind were signed to the tiny MGM subsidiary Venture records, which was a label known for giving lesser-known soul/R&B acts a shot.  Nevertheless, the band headed into the studio and laid down tracks for their debut.

The opening tune, the outstanding cover of Bob Dylan’s “You Been On My Mind,” is a blend of country-tinged pop with lush strings.  The song features wonderfully beautiful and expressive vocals, and doesn’t sound too far from something an early Nitty Gritty Dirt Band may have cut.  Next up is the rave-up soul flavored number “Get On Board The Train,” which asks the listener to get on board of the soul (love?) train before it takes off, undoubtedly leaving them behind in the dust.  Track three is the rather dark “I’m Proud To Be,” and is a bit of a psychedelic mini-masterwork, containing very creepy sounding vocals and guitar playing.  The last track on side one is also another stand-out, “Got To Get Myself Together,” a plaintive tune of love gone bad and the choice of finally moving on.  To my ears, the best track on the album is on side two.  “New Orleans (Mardi Gras)” is a song that was deserving of hit status, and was also recorded by Del Shannon for his “The Further Adventures Of Charles Westover” album.  The song had the typical late ’60’s flower power sound, complete with very hallucinatory and vivid lyrics, and eerie and dissonant harpsichord and guitar work.  The song gives off a definite “loss of glory and happiness of days gone by” vibe.  This whole album is full of great tracks.

Southwind released this and a handful of singles before replacing organist Phil Hope with longtime pal Dugg (Fontaine) Brown as a full time member.  The group left Venture records for the eccentric and now-legendary Blue Thumb label, releasing their second album “Ready To Ride” in 1970.  Southwind’s final effort was the more blues-influenced “What A Strange Place To Land” album in 1971, and not long after the release, the group disbanded.  John Martin (now going by his newly-adopted first name of “Moon”) went on to back artists such as Linda Ronstadt and later recorded several solo albums, all of which received little attention.  Martin is probably best remembered for writing Robert Palmer’s huge hit “Bad Case Of Lovin’ You (Doctor, Doctor).”  Jim Pulte made a couple of solo albums for United Artists, and virtually dropped out of radar.  Little is known of the whereabouts of original organist Phil Hope or drummer Eric Dalton.  Dugg (Fontaine) Brown has been in the music scene for years, and was at one time connected to music legends Del Shannon and Bob Seger.  Brown still writes and records music today.

Sadly, no label to my knowledge has picked up this album to be reissued on CD.  The two tracks provided for this review were recorded straight from my personal copy of the vinyl, so you may hear some pops and clicks in places.  Search online auction sites such as eBay or scour your local record shops and thrifts in hopes of finding an original vinyl copy.  I will say in full confidence that this is an album worthy of the reissue treatment, and it is definitely an album worthy of picking up if you can find it cheap enough.  Not a disappointing moment on this record.

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“You Been On My Mind”

:) Original | 1968 | Venture | search ebay ]

Terry Callier “The New Folk Sound of Terry Callier”

This record is like a river, ebbing and flowing. That may sound vague, but it’s probably the best way I can think to describe the music contained on the 1964 recordings that make up Terry Callier’s debut record The New Folk Sound of Terry Callier. Every time I put this music on I drift away, caught up in the slow, rolling rhythms and sad, rambling lyrics. Though Callier is best known for his run of unique psychedelic records in the early seventies, it’s his earliest material that has taken the strongest hold on my soul: a molasses-thick concoction of traditional American folksong and jazz, with Callier’s warm, deep croon practically floating across the stripped-back musical arrangements. Aside from Terry’s own finger-picked acoustic guitar, the record’s only other contributors are Terbour Attenborough and John Tweedle dueting on the bass.

One of the most extraordinary aspects of The New Folk Sound is in its ability to cast popular traditional songs in an entirely new light. I can guarantee you that you have never heard a more heartbreaking, soul-wrenching rendition of “Cotton-Eyed Joe” in your life. Time-worn lines such as “dying is easy/it’s living that’s pain” suddenly come weeping wildly back into focus, illuminating the bleak underbelly to American folk art that is so often taken for granted in these days of glossy history textbooks and institutionalized blind-patriotism.

What makes this all so intensely compelling, however, is Callier’s hypnotically beautiful voice. There are so many layers of honesty and emotion here that’s its impossible to describe. When the man sings the otherwise inconspicuous lines “oh dear, what can the matter be/Johnny’s so long at the fair,” you somehow know Johnny is never ever coming back. It’s remarkable that Callier manages to harness the raw, spiritual impact of the Southern blues singers without surrendering any of the crystal-clear purity inherent to his Chicago folk background. Even the cackling black humor of “Johnny Be Gay” is offset by the barely-veiled sadness in Callier’s voice and the song’s startlingly violent conclusion.

Recent reissues of The New Folk Sound include a wealth of bonus tracks which add to the album in almost every way, all having been cut around the same time as the album proper and all encompassing the same moods and rhythmic pulses as the previously released material. The music here may be too wide and mellow for the majority of today’s listeners, but to those with an ear for this kind of stuff this is a record you simply cannot afford to miss. If an additional hook is needed, it may be that two songs here, “Spin, Spin, Spin” and “It’s About Time,” are probably already familiar to Storm readers through renditions cut by the popular Chicago rock band H.P. Lovecraft.

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“It’s About Time”

:) Original | 1968 | BGP | search ebay ]
:D Reissue | 2003 | Prestige | buy ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

The Freeborne “Peak Impressions”

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The Freeborne were a youthful Boston-based psych outfit whose five members, despite their tender years, all had considerable experience of playing a wide range of styles in earlier combos. Adapting their name from the movie Born Free and discovering the freewheeling creative delights of LSD, they signed to Monitor in early ’67 and concocted a set of highly psychedelic originals which were laid down at A&R Studios in NYC. Peak Impressions sold only modestly, probably because of a dilatory campaign of live appearances to support it. After the lukewarm reception afforded it the original Freeborne folded, though later incarnations with fewer or no original members did tramp the second-division concert circuit for a few years afterwards. Inexplicably, given their obvious talent, only guitarist Bob Margolin seems to have had an appreciable later career, playing in Muddy Waters’s backing band through most of the 70s and subsequently with blues-based outfits under his own name. There’s precious little documentation on the band anywhere, but the excellent It’s Psychedelic Baby website features an informative career interview with Margolin which includes insights into the Freeborne.

I was expecting this one to be good, having read complimentary accounts of it in both Fuzz Acid And Flowers and The Acid Archives. I was even more impressed when it arrived and the CD remaster proved to have been archived by Smithsonian Folkways whose estimable moniker now adorns the Digipak. And this is indeed an impressive collection. It’s notable for the virtuosity of the musicians whose ages ranged from just 17 to 19 and yet three of whom were precociously-talented multi-instrumentalists: and we’re talking orchestral hardware here – pianos, harpsichords, cellos, trumpets, flutes and recorders – not just standard rock frontline. It’s also remarkable for the variety and creativity of the material; one reviewer commented that there seemed to be too many ideas to fit into a single album, and I can see his point. Youthful enthusiasm ensured that nothing was left out and nothing left understated, and most tracks move through bewildering sequences of keys, metres, instrumentation and vocal stylings that give their definitively psych outlines a distinctly progressive edge. This is one to listen to right through several times to get the whole effect.

The lyrics are mostly generic trippy psych nonsense, but the music is invigoratingly original. Leading off with a soulful piano riff, the opening “Images” offers Byrdsy harmonies, pulsating bass and rippling guitar scales before switching into a baroque piano and trumpet waltz. “Land Of Diana” prefigures 70s prog, starting as a jazzy 5/4 and shifting into a bluesy shuffle after distinctly proggy organ and guitar episodes. “Visions Of My Own” sets a homely acoustic guitar and trilling flute against what sounds like a chorus of PDQ Bach’s infamous Dill Piccolos before mutating without warning into a military snare-drum march. “Peak Impressions And Thoughts” is all Piper-era Floyd with swirling Farfisa, spiky Syd-style guitar, fluid bass and crashing cymbals building to a furious final crescendo. “Yellow Sky” is definitive Britsike with wah-ed guitars, churchy keyboards and lots of tempo changes. The most conventional track, “Hurtin’ Kind Of Woman”, is a soft blues shuffle with jazzy guitar and energetic Hammond work comparable with the best of Brian Auger. Despite the multifarious musical landscapes visited here, only on the last two tracks does the band outstretch itself, with the ridiculously sombre harpsichord and cello, sub-Beach Boys harmonies and cod-poetic spoken voice outro of “A New Song For Orestes” and the unnecessarily lengthy and self-indulgent cod-classical piano/trumpet cadenzas and duet of the closing “But I Must Return To Frenzy”.

A fine nine-out-of-ten psych artefact that will reward repeated listening.

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“Visions of My Own”

:) Original | 1968 | Monitor | search ebay ]
:D Reissue | 2011 | Smithsonian Folkways | buy ]

The 13th Floor Elevators “Bull of the Woods”

Bull Of The Woods (an International Artists release) is the Elevators most controversial offering.  Some fans claim it’s their best LP but many, myself included, feel Psychedelic Sounds and Easter Everywhere are the group’s finest discs.  Frequent personnel changes, drug busts and Roky Erickson’s fragile state had destroyed the original core of Sutherland, Hall and Erickson.  Stacy Sutherland was the only original member left by 1968 and he made a game effort by putting together some newly recorded “solo” tracks with older, stray Elevator tunes that were cut during the previous year.

The Sutherland solo cuts on Bull Of The Woods are a mellow mixture of blues, roots and psych – totally different than Erickson’s feral, howling rockers.  The best of these cuts are the psychedelic “Rose And Thorn,” the spacey, heavy echoplex guitar work of “Street Song,” and the rootsy blues jam “Down At The River.” Erickson sings lead on four tracks: “Dear Doctor,” which was supposedly written as a response to a Bob Dylan number, a powerful blues rocker titled “Livin’ On,” the demented acid psych of “Never Another” (a superb psych track) and finally, Erickson’s acid damaged goodbye, “May The Circle Remain Unbroken.”   This last cut is loaded with reverb and bears striking similarities (in concept) to the final contributions of Syd Barrett (“Jugband Blues”) and Skip Spence (“Seeing”).

Overall, Bull Of The Woods is a very good album that’s worth owning – you are buying this album for the Erickson tracks.   Not recommended to casual psych or 60’s rock fans but essential listening for the Elevator enthusiast.

The excellent Sign of The 3 Eyed Men box set offers an alternative third album in the form of A Love That’s Sound (presented as a lost album of sorts).  The tracks that make up this disc are the original group’s final sessions (with Erickson and Hall in tow) and include many of the songs that made up the bulk of the Bull Of The Woods album. There are a few outtakes that never made Bull Of The Woods, such as the excellent, hard charging psychedelic rocker “It’s You” (also known as “I Don’t Ever Want To Come Down”).  Also, some of the cuts on A Love That’s Sound do not have the horn overdubs that appeared on the original Bull Of The Woods LP.

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“Rose And The Thorn”

:) Original | 1969 | International Artists | search ebay ]
:D Reissue |  2007 | Spalax | buy here ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]