Thursday, May 31, 2007

Spirit (1968)

This is the debut album by Spirit from Los Angeles. Their music has a number of different influences including psychedelia, progressive rock, pop, folk, jazz, classical and Indian music. Because they touched on so many different styles of music, they never gained a wide audience but they were still highly regarded. Lead singer/guitarist Randy California (what a sweet name) was only a teenager during the recording of this album while the band's drummer was middle-aged, which sheds some light on their diverse musical approach. I find this to be an overall enjoyable album although sometimes it gets a bit too lost in proggy guitar and piano solos for my taste. It's incredibly well written, arranged and performed, despite lacking some cohesiveness as an album. I've yet to hear any of their other 11 albums but this one has made me eager to hear more.

Stand-Out Tracks:
"Fresh Garbage"
"Uncle Jack"
"Girl In Your Eye"
"Topanga Windows"
"Gramophone Man" (This one gets a little too proggy for me in the middle but it's still a great song.)

"Uncle Jack"

Download Spirit

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Go and brush your shoulders off...

A young Arthur in his hey' gettin' that dirt off his shoulder. Unfortunately, I don't actually have this so if anyone does and is willing to share, let me know.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Factory - Complete Story! (1966-1969)

The Factory was a very young British psychedelic band that put out a couple of singles in the late 60s that never took off. Their guitarist was 17 and their drummer only 16. This is a compilation of their recordings, which has a great combination of heavy psych, psych-pop, psych-folk and some very lo-fi recordings. "Path Thru the Forest" was their first single that came out on MGM in 1968. It's excellent heavy psychedelia with great lead guitar, feedback, and distorted vocals. There are two versions of this song included, one with a weird intro of monkeys howling and additional psychedelic effects that are well integrated. Their second single was "Try a Little Sunshine" which was written by John Pantry, a friend of IBC engineer Brian Carrol who helped get the Factory started with his colleague Damon Lyon Shaw. This is also an excellent song with great lead guitar and vocal harmonies. The compilation has two covers, including Fairport Convention's "Mr. Lacey" and Family's "Second Generation Woman," neither of which I've heard the original version. Overall, it's a great compilation despite annoying inconsistencies in volume between tracks.

Stand-Out Tracks:
"Path Thru the Forest"
"Try a Little Sunshine"
"Red Chalk Hill"
"The Old and the New"

"Try a Little Sunshine"

Download Complete Story!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Comets on Fire (2001)

This is the first album from Santa Cruz's Comets on Fire. Their music is generally loud, riff-heavy madness although their latest material has taken a turn towards accessibility, which I find somewhat regrettable. This is by far their most spaced out and brutal offering to date. The guitars, drums and vocals are all fucking fierce, to say the least, and the use of the echoplex adds another layer of insanity. The echoplex is an old tape-driven echo and delay unit, which I've wanted ever since I first heard this album. This is actually a reissue of their first record and it includes a bonus 28 minute clip of their live show.

"Got A Feelin"

Download Comets on Fire

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Ithaca - A Game For All Who Know (1973)

First off, don't be deceived by the shitty album cover, because this is a really good album. Ithaca was a British band that played melodic, progressive psych-folk. This is their last album, which was a private-pressed LP that never gained much attention. Most of the album is fairly sparse, sophisticated arrangements of acoustic guitar and electric organ accompanied by male and female vocals that trade off very naturally and pleasantly. There is some use of piano, electric guitar, strings, Mellotron, and recorder, which are all subtle and well integrated. Most of the songs are songs within songs, so there are a number of drastic changes that are very well conceived compositionally and thematically. I've had this album for a while now and it continues to grow on me more and more, especially considering my initial copy's tracks were out of sequence. I find it to be very compelling lyrically, thematically and stylistically. There just seems to be a lot going on that isn't initially apparent.

"Questions (Did You Know - Will We Be Alive)"

Download A Game For All Who Know

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Wolfgang's Vault

Visit Wolfgang's Vault for some sick psychedelic posters and more.

Hapshash and the Coloured Coat - Featuring the Human Host and the Heavy Metal Kids (1967)

Hapshash and The Coloured Coat were a British graphics team consisting of Michael English and Nigel Waymouth and are known for creating some of the most memorable concert posters of the psychedelic era printed and distributed by Osiris Visions. They made posters for Pink Floyd, the Incredible String Band, and many bands who played in the underground UFO club. The two met shortly after Nigel had opened London's first psychedelic boutique, Granny Takes A Trip, working under the name Cosmic Colors, then Jacob and the Coloured Coat, and finally Hapshash and the Coloured Coat. In 2000, their work gained recognition when the Victoria and Albert Museum put on an exhibition of their work. The album foreshadows some of the experimental directions bands like the Velvet Underground would soon be exploring. It is mainly void of song structures, consisting of listless jams with tribal rhythms, driving guitars, dissonant instrumentation and sporadic vocals. The tribal direction of the music is very apparent, particularly on the song '"Aoum" which is entirely a cappella chanting.

"A Mind Blown Is A Mind Shown"

Go here to see Hapshash and the Coloured Coat's psychedelic posters.

Go here for Nigel Waymouth's website.

Download Featuring the Human Host and the Heavy Metal Kids

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

July - The Second of July (1967)

This is a collection of previously unreleased material from the British psychedelic band July, largely consisting of demos of the songs from their self-titled album. There are a few tracks on this that didn't make it to the album though. As I mentioned earlier, it's interesting to listen to these songs and hear how much many of them were developed prior to recording the album. Although it lacks the production of the self-titled album, the lo-fi recording lends itself well to many of the tracks, particularly the acoustic ballad "Man Outside."

Stand-Out Tracks:
"My Clown"
"Stamping Machine"
"(A) Bird Lived"
"You See Me I See You"
"Man Outside"

"Stamping Machine"

Download The Second of July

Monday, May 7, 2007

A Cricket in the Court of Akbar

I've been taking a break from updating this blog because school is quite hectic right now. I'm hoping to get started again soon, but in the meantime, here's a trailer for a very interesting documentary that I stumbled across on youtube. This is what it's about:

"American student of Indian Classical music, Andrew Mendelson, competes in the largest music competition in Rajasthan, India. Sitar in hand, he attempts to navigate the complex rules of this ancient tradition only to find that his western culture clash might be insurmountable. Will he find acceptance before facing India's newest generation of master musicians?"

I really want to check this out for a number of reasons. First off, although I haven't listened to Indian Classical music all that much, psychedelic music has definitely made me more and more compelled. I'm also very interested by the culture clash aspect of the film. I find it truly inspring that this guy is willing to step into a very different culture and compete in a tradition that's not his own.

Go here for more information:
Ragamala Productions