Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Box Sets Suck 2: Psychedelic Archaeology

Ok this one isn't a box set. It isn't even available for sale. But as a sucker for psych, Pebbles, and the like, I had to have a go at it. This site explains what Psychedelic Archaeology is in detail. But basically, it's a labor of love courtesy of many psych fans aiming to compile cuts that have never been reissued. I listened to all ten volumes while writing the first chapter of my dissertation. That might explain the preponderance of novelties in the one volume condensation below given how much those type of songs mean to rape your earhole no matter what task you're simultaneously performing. But if you read my Pebbles Volume 3 post, you know I'm a novelty kind of guy anyway.

Still, some of my choices seem like the product of lazy listening. So to redress this error, I created a second volume of goodies. The first is still definitely the better one overall. But the second provides many pleasures even if that simply amounts to giving me yet another reason to laugh at the 1960s.

So here they are with justifications for Volume 1.

The Best of Psychedelic Archaeology Volume 1

1. Rochelle Rosenthal and the Kickball Queen: "Lottery"

Over creepy organ (is there an uncreepy kind?), Rochelle explains a yearly television show in which men 19 - 26 get sent to Vietnam. Then the band kickballs into a track reminiscent of Shocking Blue's "Send Me A Postcard," in sound and sarcasm. Last couplet: "And if the killing gets slow (through?)/Then you can work on your tan." A fine start.

2. The Sandals: "House of Painted Glass"

More a Middle Eastern pastiche than a Far East one, despite the prominence of sitar in the mix. The harmonies swarm like a sandstorm in the Sahara. The opening winds could charm the snake off ya. And the singer sounds like he was born somewhere very far away from Riverside, California from whence this band hailed. Apparently, they took this song as a novelty item which might explain those inexplicable Creature Feature laughs after each chorus. But I'd be stunned to discover they topped it with their more serious songs, assuming they had any.

3. Jefferson Lee: "Pancake Trees"

This one begins exactly like the phat Fat Albert theme which soon gets bejeweled with mysterioso guitar and lush strings completely antithetical to the goofy beat. But that's psych for ya - the clash of supposed opposites rather than mere acid damage (well, good psych, that is). Then after a few relatively straightforward measures acknowledging the existence of the title wonders comes a scaling, scary section mirroring the flight of said trees: "Pancake trees floating in syrupy skies/In maple and butterscotch blowing your mind." Probably another joke, especially given that this track comes from 1970. But it has genuine ookability.

4. The Mission: "Calmilly"

Googling "Calmilly" turns up almost nothing but references to this song. No one knows a damn thing about the group perhaps including the group itself. The singer states a very fetching melody calmly yet briskly (hey - could "calmilly" be a misspelling of "calmly?") over an organ that has replaced the traditional guitar (although a bass dances below). There are some vaguely prog touches in the keyb solo with even vaguer, unsettling "ooh"s in the background. It all seems to be about a Mr. and Mrs. D(evil?) sitting down for dinner. The flip is coming up and is even nuttier.

5. She Trinity: "Climb That Tree"

Quite possibly the greatest single of the 1960s. I will say no more...for now.

6. Oracle: "Don't Say No"

I hemmed and hawed about including this Verve b-side produced by Curt Boettcher. A bit wussy overall. But for a day or so, the trebly chorus wouldn't leave my head. Plus I love how the one solitary bass note at the beginning seems to set off the entire windy wall of psych. Wind effects included at the close.

7. The Mission: "Gailing Made It"

It's The Bendedictine Monk Variety Hour! More organ this time but most of the meat is in the voices. Starts off with some choice chanting and then moves into skippy outer space shape note singing or maybe just pure gibberish. I can make out "gailing made it" and even a "scoob dooby doo." Perhaps on The Mission's planet "gailing made it" is some sort of root that helps form different words. Witness:

Gailing made it-ah
Gailing made it-doobay
Nooting saw

One echoey brother is definitely not taking his role seriously what with his monkey sounds and goofy "ha ha ha"s. I hope Gailing made it okay wherever s/he was going. A classic single.

8. Fenwyck: "I Cry"

Rather generic. But the whizzing guitar commentary after each line wants to break out into a better song, preferably one without such a crybaby singer. In this respect, it kinda reminds me of Jimmy Page's work on The First Gear's "Leave My Kitten Alone" although the anonymous guitar god here doesn't reach such heights. Thankfully everything moves pretty fast. But in retrospect, I probably should have traded this one out.

9. Owl: "Spirits"

A tough folksy-rock itch. The nerve-wracked riffs wash their hands repeatedly. The singer comes to you from underwater on select verses which is okay since he's definitely the weak link. And best of all, there's a nasty Creedence-like guitar solo about a minute in which promises no swampy good times.

10. Alexander Rabbit: "Malaguainia" (sic)

Apparently these cuties were slotted to perform at Woodstock but their manager backed them out for fear of derailing their college education. From the evidence here, they would have fit in perfectly - nearly seven minutes of speedy, earthbound Santana.

11. Beautiful - "Shadows in the Sun"

Kim Fowley-produced. Sort of a baby brother to his "Strangers From The Sky." Might even be him on vocals. Liners say this is a carbon copy of Soft Machine's Fowley-produced "Feelin' Reelin' Squealin'." True? Another one I probably should've traded out.

12. Sagittarius: "Virgo"

Hated it at first. But I wanted something like a transitional cut on an album rather than a single shining forth and this instrumental served that purpose. Then I grew to dig its mildly enervated quality, largely due to the Dragnet-like bass line undergirding the monsoon of harpsichord, bells, and pot-stirring geetar until it all spazzes out at the end.

13. Delicate Balance: "Night is Almost Gone"

Traded this in at the last minute since the Shy Limbs song that was originally in its place is on another collection I intend to winnow down (and in much better sound quality). "Night is Almost Gone" is a simple, tight nugget with a nice breakdown two minutes in. Fruity vocals, a great buzzing drum intro and it all gets sucked into an interstellar vacuum cleaner at the end.

14. Giant Crab: "Listen Crab"

Hyper geeks looking for a spot on one of Zappa's early albums. They have that one-singer-normal-the-other-helium-cured duet style down pat. The drummer practices rolls on his snare. Everyone throws light bulbs at the fade out. Freak out!

15. Conception: "Babylon"

The main riff here is so archetypal that I can't believe it's not a ripoff. Maybe it is and I just can't place it. Still, most cruncheriffic. Most.

16. Le Cirque: "Land of Oz"

Featuring Leon Russell and Marc Benno, this is probably the worst song on here. Too twee, too "quit fellating those damn helium balloons!" But the tape speeds up towards the end and keeps speeding up for a few measures until all the munchkins are fired off into the stratosphere and I cannot stop laughing.

17. Changing Colours: "Da Da Da Da"

More helium. Was this a cheap high for those who couldn't afford LSD? Together with the Le Cirque and Giant Crab songs and The Raven(s) one below, this would make for the most irritating EP in history.

18. UK Baby: "Michael's Daughter"

McCartneyesque, piano-hooked razzmatazz that is actually a 12-or-so-bar blues in an English music hall stylee. Missing that "interesting story in the lyrics," though, that the liners mention.

19. The Raven(s) (sic...but why?): "Calamity Jane"

Here mostly for the obnoxious telegraph beeps that play non-stop for the first and last thirty seconds. And the song's the shortest here at two minutes exactly.

20. West Coast Natural Gas: "Jumping Frog"

Grass grows alongside the highway, people die from eating cranberries, husky eagle scouts are disguised as the title amphibian, a plastic doll talks like the singer's brother (see more brother paranoia below), a drag queen masquerades as his mother - but none of it can fool him. I'd call this folksy, über catchy ramble a paean to hippie authenticity if it weren't so laid-back and good timey. Have Moicy! fans, take note.

21. These Vizitors: "Rippling Road"

Kinda like a punky Fairport Convention. Actually, this reminds me most of The Meat Puppets for the hardcore get-up that motrovates these vizitors down the road. Not at hardcore speeds, mind you. But the one-two one-two one-two spirit is definitely there. Seriously - this wouldn't sound all that out of place on II or Up on The Sun.

22. Troyes: "Morning of the Rain"

The riffage here moves past archetypal to primordial. These boys were dragging some serious knuckles. Message: drugs kills brain cells.

23. The Paper Train: "Brother"

Entire lyric: "Walks like a lady. Talks like a lady. Cries like a lady. Smiles like lady. Too bad it's my brother."

24. The Electric Duck: "Most People Get Happy"

The gushingest song here. Sounds like a countercultural revival meeting. The choir response vocals should please fans of The Edwin Hawkins Singers and The Polyphonic Spree. But this one really frugs out with congas and wah-wah guitar running and jumping on golden clouds. And it was nice of them to acknowledge that not everyone gets happy.

25. Flower Power: "Stop! Check It"

The fastest song here. So fast, in fact, that I initially took it for a more contemporary throwback from Redd Kross or The 5-6-7-8s. Entire lyric: "Stop! Check it! Yeah!"

26. Frosty: "Organ Grinder's Monkey"

Beat miners, listen up: there's a great break here that gets even greater with the introduction of rubbery bass. Very danceable bubblegum although a bit harder and psychier than the 1910 Fruitgum Company norm.

27. Think: "California (It's Getting So Heavy)"

Well, this track is already there. The drums detonate in a cavern, the singer yells the whole time, the guitar blows King Kong farts. And yet there's still a safe Howard Johnson's feel to it due to the echoey 5th Dimension-style scatting underneath and a section of suburban garage horns. A very clean, safe garage upholstered with fun fur and a fake polar bear head.

28. The Fastest Group Alive: "Bears"

A dumb public service announcement warning us that bears don't care who they scare. But why is there a dude making puking sounds every so often? The b-side is "Beside." I wanna hear it.

The Best of Psychedelic Archaeology Volume 2

1. Kim Fowley: "Strangers From the Sky"
2. Sound Sandwich: "Zig Zag News"
3. The David: "People Saying, People Seeing"
4. Gregorians: "Dialated Eyes"
5. London Phogg: "The Times to Come"
6. Barry Mann: "Young Electric...Psychedelic Band"
7. Lexington Ave. Local: "Along Comes Mary"
8. Sweet Smoke: "The Great Evacuation Of Haight"
9. Sixth Day Creation: "Cherry Pie"
10. Epic Splendor: "Cowboys and Indians"
11. Ronnie James Reincarnation: "Is This The Only Life You've Ever Had"
12. Bill Soden: "My Mermaid and Me"
13. Epitome: "Sleep #9"
14. Five By Five: "15 Going On 20"
15. City Zu: "Too Much, Too Soon, Too Fast"
16. The Sun: "Soul Sync"
17. Gas Light Village: "I Am Afraid"
18. Ry Cooper: "The Game of Life"
19. Ry Cooper: "1983"
20. Fourth Dimension: "Mr. Blake"
21. Luv Lites: "Born in Chicago"
22. Peter B‚s (Aka Peter B's Looners): "Jodrell Blues"
23. Village: "Long Time Coming"
24. Merriday Park: "Went Home Today"
25. Revelation: "Wait and See"
26. MC2: S.S.T."
27. Dr. T. & The Undertakers: "Blue Blue"
28. Chicago Loop: "Richard Corey"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm intrigued by

11. Ronnie James Reincarnation: "Is This The Only Life You've Ever Had"

Is this Ronnie James Dio singing?!?! I've never seen this anywhere, any chance of getting a sample (say 20 secs!) with the voice, to make sure it's Dio from Rainbow and Black Sabbath fame or not?! Thanks!

my name is Nuno Barradas, email nunoni _at_

3:02 AM  
Anonymous Harry F said...

this Ronnie James isn't Mr Dio of Sabbath fame! He sounds very British
The Coneception - Babylon tune is a VERY heavy cover of a Blue Cheer song
The original Psychedelic Archeology 10 cd set is well worth checking out some real gems
Harry F

7:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Babylon's a Blue Cheer cover, that's why it's familiar!

3:55 PM  

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