Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Dukes of Stratosphear - Chips from the Chocolate Fireball (1987)

This is some of the most authentic sounding (if not the most) attempts at recapturing the sound of the psychedelic era. Created as a side project by the British band XTC, the Dukes of Stratosphear aimed to parody and pay tribute to the 60s psychedelic sound. XTC initially denied affiliation with the Dukes and even adopted pseudonyms to mask their identities. Andy Partridge was Sir John Johns, Colin Moulding was the Red Curtain, David Gregory was Lord Cornelius Plum, and Gregory's brother Ian joined the Dukes as Ian E.I.E.I. Owen. Their sound is very well conceived both compositionally and texturally, combining great songs with excellent psychedelic instrumentation and effects. Chips from the Chocolate Fireball is an anthology combining the Dukes' EP from 1985 called 25 O'Clock and their LP from 1987 called Psonic Psunspot. Personally, I find the material from 25 O'Clock to be superior than Psonic Psunspot but don't get me wrong, it's all good.

"Bike Ride To The Moon"

Music video for "The Mole from the Ministry"

Go here for an informative site on the Dukes of Stratosphear.

Download Chips from the Chocolate Fireball

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Jimmy Appudurai Chua

"Jimmy Appudurai Chua was born in Singapore where he played guitar and harp with several bands during the 1960s including The Meltones, The Motif, The Bee Jays and Blues By Five before moving to London in the early 70s when The Straydogs landed a recording contract with Harvest Records (EMI).

Turning to rock photography, Jimmy photographed many famous legends such as Buddy Guy, Jack Bruce, Alexis Korner, The Yardbirds, Eric Clapton, John Mayall, Pop Staples, Jimmy Smith, Albert Collins, Ry Cooder, Top Topham, Steve Winwood, Michael Kamen, Adrian Legg, Dave Gilmour, Blur, Manic Street Preachers and the Foo Fighters. Mostly photographing the artists live, Jimmy also did studio shots of The Yardbirds and The Pretty Things.

Jimmy's surname is often spelt incorrectly as Appadurai, even in Singapore's BigO Magazine for which he was an overseas contributor for many years. Now relocated to Liskeard, Cornwall, where he is enjoying the local music scene, Jimmy is planning to record some of his compositions in 2006."

Unfortunately these are the only photographs of his I can find.

Go here for more.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Lazy Smoke - Corridor of Faces (1969)

Lazy Smoke was a band from Massachusetts with a lead singer that sounds eerily similar to John Lennon at times. Their music is mid-tempo and slow guitar pop with psychedelic and folk influences. For what it's worth, many of their slower songs remind me of the modern British band the Clientele, because of the lazy, melancholy style of pop. The first track, "All These Years," sets a very psychedelic tone with tasteful backwards guitar, nice lead guitar, and immediately striking vocals. Nothing else on the album is as heavily psychedelic, but the song-writing often still has psychedelic influences. The recordings are pretty lo-fi, which lends itself well to the band's sound. Overall, I find it to be a very good listen with songs that grow on you the more you listen. This release comes with twelve bonus tracks of acoustic demos, which I haven't given much of a listen yet.

Stand-Out Tracks:
"All These Years"
"How Was Your Day Last Night"
"Under Skys"
"Sarah Saturday"

"All These Years"

Download Corridor of Faces

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Pretty Things - LSD

Here's the Pretty Things explicitly singing about LSD a year before the Beatles had even hinted at it. It's funny what you can get away with when you aren't a media darling.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Pretty Things - Parachute (1970)

The Pretty Things are one of the most important British rock bands of the 60s and 70s that somehow never gained recognition in the States. They started as an R&B rock band much like the Rolling Stones and in '67 they took a turn towards psychedelia with the orchestrated album, Emotions. Then they went on to record the first rock opera ever, S.F. Sorrow, but the Who's Tommy would outshine it with much better sales. Founding member Dick Taylor would leave shortly after, apparantly disappointed with the lack of recognition it received. The band carried on and recorded Parachute with excellent results. The first six tracks have a striking similarity to the second side of Abbey Road, due to the use of seamless songs and layered vocal harmonies. This similarity is no surprise considering that Parachute was recorded in Abbey Road with the Beatles' engineer Norman Smith producing. The first half is the most immediately striking, but the second half has a great combination of raunchy blues and slower songs. According to allmusic.com, the album is a concept album about "a generation caught between the conflicting calls of (rural) peace, love, and boredom, and (urban) sophistication, sex, and squalor in a harsh world." I've only picked up on this concept in a couple tracks thus far, to be honest. The last six songs are bonus tracks, which are inferior to the album cuts, but good nonetheless.

"The Good Mr. Square" & "She Was Tall, She Was High"

Download Parachute

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Stone Circus (1969)

This is the Stone Circus' one and only album and it consists of all original songs that are mainly psych-pop with acid rock influence. I can't figure out exactly where they were from, because one thing I've read said they were thought to have been from California although according to the sticker on the CD it was "recorded by a bunch of musicians from Canada who'd fetched up in New York." So they were either from California or they were some Canadians in New York. There's some great instrumentation including fuzz lead guitar, jangly rhythm guitar, sweet bass and organ grooves, and solid drumming. I really enjoy most all of the songs leading up to the last track called 'People I Once Knew.' It starts with some spoken lyrics over piano and then breaks out into a long organ/wah-wah guitar jam that gets a little boring. The spoken word stuff is entertaining enough to redeem it, though.

Stand-Out Tracks:
"What Went Wrong"
"Adam's Lament"
"Mr. Grey"
"Sarah Wells"

"Mr. Grey"

Download The Stone Circus

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Gal Costa - Gal Costa (Cinema Olympia) (1969)

This is the second album from Brazil's Gal Costa who was an important figure in the Tropicalia movement along with Gilberto Gil and Caetano Velosa, both of whom penned multiple songs for this album. This the first of her two self-titled albums, which are typically distinguished by the first song. From what I've heard of the Tropicalia movement, Costa seems to have taken it the farthest out into psychedelia, even more so than Os Mutantes. This album is full of intense psychedelic effects and styles like screeching wah-wah guitar, heavy delay and reverb, speaker pans, dissonant funk bass lines, innovative production techniques, etc. The list could go on all day. The album has a great combination of the distinctive Tropicalia style and psychedelia because it is based around good songs that are carefully experimented with in the studio. Costa's often wild vocal style also adds perfectly to the experimental style of the album.

"Cinema Olympia"

For more information on Gal Costa, check out the All Music entry.

Download Gal Costa (Cinema Olympia)