The Crazy World of Arthur Brown

Before there was an Alice Cooper, there was an Arthur Brown. Cooper may have made the genre of shock rock popular, but it was Brown who was one of the pioneers. There were others before Brown, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Screaming Lord Sutch, to name two. But it was Arthur Brown who has been credited by many musicians as the artist that gave them the inspiration.

The CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN
THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN-1968

Arthur Brown is an English singer, who performed elaborate and innovative stage performances, and is considered one of the pioneers of the shock rock genre. It was not enough for Brown to sing his songs, he had to perform them visually, giving the audience a feeling of being involved in the music, giving them something to remember, more than just something to hear, but to see and feel.

Arthur Brown did not have much personal commercial success, however there were some interesting connections that he had with some other famous musicians of the day. Brown’s debut album in 1968, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, was produced by The Who’s manager Kit Lambert, and executive-produced by Pete Townshend, The Who’s legendary guitarist and songwriter.

Brown got himself booted from a tour with Jimi Hendrix, due to his preoccupation with fire, which was an important part of both his stage act, and the regularly recurring theme of his debut album. A mainstay of Brown’s stage performances was his burning helmet, which caused him to be perpetually in harm’s way, not only on his person, but also on the stages and venues in which he performed.

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown has a recurring theme of fire and hell, which makes it kind of creepy for me. I remember hearing Brown opening the song Fire by exclaiming “I am the god of hellfire,” and subsequently having the bejesus scared out of me. Of course, as I got older, I recognised this as a means of artistic expression, and a bit of fun, but nonetheless, the theme of darkness and fire and hell permeate throughout parts of the record.

Fire was a big hit back in 1968, reaching number one in The United Kingdom and Canada, and eventually reaching number two in The States and charted in many other countries as well. It sold over a million copies and was awarded a gold disc.

The song Fire is considered a psychedelic song, but it did not feature that psychedelic guitar sound and it’s lack of bass made it a bit different than many of the other hits during the psychedelic sixties. There was a strong presences of the organ, which is associated with the psychedelic sound. The Crazy World of Arthur Brown was Brown’s one and only record during the sixties, with Fire being his only hit and most recognisable song.

When discussing and contemplating the career of Arthur Brown, he is most remembered for his one hit song, and the influential stage performances that he made popular. The influence was far reaching, and as mentioned earlier, many musicians claimed Brown as an artist to emulate, including KISS, Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, as well as others. What he lacked in personal success and acclaim, he certainly passed on to others. A good, if not strange record.

Rating: B


Jefferson Airplane-Takes Off

JEFFERSON AIRPLANE-TAKES OFF
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE-TAKES OFF(1966)

 

The Jefferson Airplane is a psychedelic rock band that formed in San Francisco, California in 1965. They are considered the seminal band that helped shape the San Francisco Sound in the psychedelic era in the mid to late 1960’s. The band is considered one of the most influential groups of the era from San Francisco, rivaled only by The Grateful Dead.

Early Jefferson Airplane with Signe Toly Anderson.

The original, “classic” members of the group were Grace Slick, Jack Casady, Jorma Kaukonen, Marty Balin, Paul Kantner, and Spencer Dryden. However, their debut record was recorded before Grace Slick joined the band. Signe Toly Anderson was on the first record, but left shortly after it’s release in 1966, and was replaced by Slick.

The Jefferson Airplane’s debut record, Takes Off, was released in August 1966. As stated before, Grace Slick was not on the album.

Takes Off is considered to be the beginnings of a genre of music that was to define the counterculture movement of the middle to late sixties and into the early seventies. It is an important work, with a fresh, new sound that would become known as the San Francisco Sound. It was not, in my opinion, a record that broke new ground musically, there was no great surprises here, just a well executed debut record that was very listenable and enjoyable. What was to become by the next record would be monumental in the history of rock music. But the debut was something new, but unextraordinary.

There are two notable cover songs on the record, Tobacco Road, and Let’s Get Together. Both songs are covered by other bands also, and are very popular in American culture. The Youngbloods had a big hit with their version of Let’s Get Together, titled Get Together in 1967. The Jefferson Airplane did a good job of covering both songs.

The song that kicks off  Jefferson Airplane’s recording career, and arguably the psychedelic movement in general, is Blues From An Airplane, the first song on Takes Off. It is a worthy track, and shows the musical proficiency of the band, and the formation of a new sound.

The second song on the record, Let Me In, was considered highly sexual for the times, and there are two versions, one censored, and one uncensored. By today’s standards, it wouldn’t be an issue. It is a great song, with some excellent guitar work in the middle of the track. Great early psychedelia.

Bringing Me Down is a classic psychedelic song with that psychedelic guitar style that would become so prevalent and recognisable in the genre.

It’s No Secret is my favorite song on the record, with Marty Balin’s spectacular vocals which make the song work so well. The guitar work in the middle of the track is classic psychedelia, a preview of what was to come.

Another one of the best songs on the debut is Come Up The Years, a track that starts out slow, with beautiful vocals and lyrics. It is a song about a man who is interested in a younger woman, and lamenting that she is not older. When I listen to this song, I get that feeling, as I so often do, that I wish I was a bit older, so I could experience that it was like to be around in the psychedelic era. The best music, from the greatest era, in my opinion.

Run Around is another song that was considered controversial, and has a censored and an uncensored version. It starts off with a twangy guitar intro, and great vocals. This is another highly enjoyable tune, classic sixties feel.

Don’t Slip Away is a good track, one of the weaker songs on the record, in my opinion, but nevertheless quite enjoyable. There are no bad songs on the record, and even the weaker one’s are very musically  sound, and all have great vocals.

Chauffeur Blues is a song that is lead by Signe Toly Anderson singing lead vocals, and is a straightforward blues piece. It is a good song, but I consider it to be one of the weaker songs on the record, considering that the majority of the rest of the album is excellent.

The last song on the record, And I Like It, is a bluesy piece that starts of with some jazzy drums, and is sung beautifully by Marty Balin. A good tune made great with the Balin vocals.

When listening to this record, there is some important musical history taking place. It is a great debut for one of the most influential bands in rock history. The Jefferson Airplane help launch a revolution, both musically and culturally, and are considered the cream of the crop in the world of psychedelic music.

Rating: A-

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Stooges

The Stooges
THE STOOGES

 

The Stooges were a rock band that got their start in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1967. They were sometimes referred to as Iggy and the Stooges, and the original band members consisted of Iggy Pop, David Alexander, Ron Asheton and Scott Asheton. They are widely considered to be influencers of hard rock, and heavy metal, and they are a major influence in establishing the punk rock genre.

The Stooges self titled debut album was released on August 5th, 1969 and was originally produced by John Cale of The Velvet Underground. It was rejected by Elektra Records, the same record company that had the Doors as their main act, but was redone by Iggy Pop and Jac Holzman, president of Elektra. It is widely considered a seminal proto-punk record.

The first song on the record, 1969, starts out with some great sounds from a wah wah pedal, and then turns into a classic guitar riff that sounds like the earliest incarnations of punk. With Iggy Pop’s vocals I get the feel of what punk was about to become. A classic opening tune.

The next song on the record is I Wanna Be Your Dog. This song consists of an iconic and very recognisable guitar riff which is played over and over throughout, and there are sleigh bells chiming through the piece as well. This is my favorite song on the record, and one of The Stooges classic, proto-punk songs. It is considered in Rolling Stone magazine’s top 500 songs of all time, coming in at number 438.

We Will Fall is a ten minute track that departs from the rest of the record, and it can be a bit hard to ingest for those who don’t like long, drawn out, droning pieces of music, which is exactly what it is. It is also a great song if the lights are low, the lava lamp is fired up, and the mood is right. It is an obscure song, but it works if you’re in the right frame of mind. The song definitely breaks up the consistency of an otherwise great rock album. I would consider We Will Fall the records one psychedelic song, dropped in with the rest being rockers and proto-punk gems.

The next song is No Fun, and it has some great fuzz guitar riffs, along with Iggy’s vocals, it is a great, early punk tune. I can see the influence that the band had on future punk and hard rock bands while listening to this track.

The next song, Real Cool Time, starts out with that wah wah sound and heavy guitars. The early workings of heavy metal by The Stooges gave a lot of bands their influence, a group that was somewhat ahead of their time.

Ann is a slow song, that reminds me a bit of The Doors. Actually, there are parts of this record as a whole that reminds me of The Doors. Although I can hear the similarities between both bands, they each have their own distinct style. The Doors a bit more psychedelic, while The Stooges are more harder.

Not Right is a classic garage rock song all the way, very entertaining, but not one of The Stooges more recognisable tunes.

Little Doll is the last song on the record, and it rocks the album out nicely, with a quick funky bass beginning, which follows with some heavy guitars. A great song, and Iggy has a great punk voice. The beginnings of a genre for sure.

The only low point in the record for me is We Will Fall, not because I don’t like the song, but it doesn’t really seem to follow the blueprint for the rest of the record, and seems out of place. But the record as a whole is excellent, and the future is being laid out before us. THE GODFATHERS OF PUNK, indeed!

Rating: A-

 

The Velvet Underground & Nico

The Velvet Underground & Nico
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO(1967)

 

The Velvet Underground were a band that got it’s start in New York City in 1964. The original members were John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Lou Reed, and Angus MacLise. MacLise was replaced by Moe Tucker in 1965 as drummer.

I would not put The Velvet Underground under the umbrella of psychedelic rock, but were quite popular around the same time. Their music could be categorized as proto punk and experimental, as well as other genres.

Though the musicians in the band were well received and had careers of their own, none became more popular than Lou Reed, who had a solo career that was active for the better part of five decades. The Velvet Underground did not achieve much success during their active years, but later became known as one of the most influential rock bands in history.

Andy Warhol was very much around the band in the middle to late sixties, and the cover for their debut album was his artwork.

The Velvet Underground’s debut album, “The Velvet Underground and Nico,” was released in March 1967, and featured friend and model Nico, who would go on to have a fairly successful solo career.

The record starts out with a slow mellow song, Sunday Morning, which features John Cale playing a celesta, an instrument not readily heard on rock records. It gives the song a playful feel and it works well. It is one of my favorite songs on the record.

Following Sunday Morning,  I’m Waiting For The Man is a song written by Lou Reed, which is very specific in its lyrics about a drug deal in New York City, with the “man” referring to a drug dealer. It is one of The Velvet Underground’s more popular songs, and gives a very concise picture of what it was like in the big city, both in the era of the sixties and also, unfortunately, very much what it is like in these times.

The next song, Femme Fatale, is a more mellow, softer song than the previous one, and is a song that has been covered by many bands and musicians over the years. It is one of their most recognisable songs that has remained somewhat in the spotlight due to it’s many cover versions.

Venus In Furs is a mesmerizing, driving song that probably sounded awesome back in the sixties while doing what they did back then, maybe dropping some acid, which was a thing. One can only imagine how this song was enhanced by such activity, and the lyrical content dealt with some taboo issues, and was not for the faint at heart.

Run Run Run has a bit of a psychedelic feel to it, and is again about people in New York City going after drugs, and is very specific about who are the characters, and where this is all happening. It is highlighted by Lou Reed’s obscure guitar work.

All Tomorrow’s Parties was written by Lou Reed and is sung by Nico. It has been suggested that this is a precursor to what would become the goth music genre, and I agree with this assessment. It is rather slow moving, and Nico’s low singing style makes the connection to goth a strong one.

Heroin is one of The Velvet Underground’s most celebrated tunes, and is very explicit in describing what using and abusing heroin is like. The song is haunting at times, violent at other times, and starts with what feels like will be a sweet, nice beginning, but we know how it all ends. It is a dark song, and one of my favorites.

There She Goes Again is a song about a prostitute, who is tough, and living on the streets. Again, another song about a sensitive subject, but that has a great guitar riff and is very entertaining.

I’ll Be Your Mirror is a song beautifully sung by Nico, and though it is one of the lesser known songs on the album, it is exquisitely executed, and is a real hidden gem.

The Black Angel’s Death Song is the one potential dud on the record, but musically it is so different, that it is interesting. Not one of my favorites on the album, I do feel the inclination to skip over this one, but still follow through till the end.

European Son is the last, and longest track on the record. It takes a bit of getting used to, with the majority of the song being The Velvet Underground’s foray into their extreme experimental stage. An alright ending to the record, that shouldn’t take away from the brilliance of most of the work previously.

The debut by The Velvet Underground is at times incredible, and at sparse times is hard to swallow. The majority of the record is groundbreaking, giving rise to what would become punk a bit later on. It is a very good record, that deals with some real life, controversial issues, and was musically very entertaining for the most part.

Rating: A-

 

 

 

 

 

Vanilla Fudge

Vanilla Fudge
VANILLA FUDGE

 

Vanilla Fudge got their start on Long Island, New York in 1967. The band consisted of Mark Stein, Carmine Appice, Tim Bogert, and Vince Martell. Carmine Appice became very famous as a drummer, and influenced many drummers in the rock genre.

The best way to describe Vanilla Fudge, is that they were a psychedelic band that featured extended, slower versions of already popular hit songs of the time period. Some of these songs were, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by The Supremes, which was their biggest hit, “Eleanor Rigby” and “Ticket To Ride” by The Beatles, and “People Get Ready” by Curtis Mayfield, as well as others.

Vanilla Fudge’s debut album, entitled Vanilla Fudge,  featured their biggest hit, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by slowing it down and extending it to give a different take on the original. It took me awhile to get used to, but it works well when the musicianship is recognised. I can understand how Carmine Appice influenced many future drummers, and how this song was a precursor to the metal genre not yet established.

The members of Vanilla Fudge had great admiration of The Beatles, and the first song on the debut record shows this. The first song, “Ticket To Ride“, was a big hit for Beatles, and this would be the first song on the debut record. They slowed the song down, added lots of organ and drums, and basically made the song much harder than the original. It works well, although, the slowness of this version made me pause for a bit, not really sure what to think of it. Musically, it was excellent, but the slower tempo from the original threw me off. I got over it thought, and learned to really enjoy this cover.

Vanilla Fudge
Vanilla Fudge

The next song, “People Get Ready”, is a cover of a Curtis Mayfield composition, that originally I heard from Rod Stewart’s cover, which I really enjoy. Vanilla Fudge slows this down also, with heavy organ and drums, and extends it out for a really great cover. They take these previous hits by other artists, and really make them their own, and the music doesn’t destroy the originals, as happens so much these days.

Next up, “She’s Not There,” is a cover of The Zombies tune, slowed down and jazzed up with  heavy drums. To be honest, the vocals in some of these songs on the debut are not that appealing to me, but the musicality more than makes up for it. This is another very good cover.

The Sonny Bono song, “Bang Bang” is basically, at first, unrecognizable from the original. This particular song I consider somewhat of a weaker cover than the others on the record. Although listening to it enough times, it kind of grew on me. It is definitely more haunting in some places than the original.

We skip to the last song on the record, the very familiar “Eleanor Rigby”, as The Vanilla Fudge end the album with some more homage to The Beatles. As with the other covers, it is slowed down, with drums and organ again in the front. All in all, a good record, with some painfully slow low parts that are hard to get into.

I really like this record, and I can see the influence it had on other musicians, and how it help ignite the future metal genre. We see a rising star emerge in Carmine Appice, and there are to be more albums to come before they called it quits in 1970.

Rating: B+

 

 

 

The Psychedelic Sounds Of The13th Floor Elevators

THE PSYCHEDELIC SOUNDS OF THE 13TH FLOOR ELEVATORS
THE PSYCHEDELIC SOUNDS OF THE 13TH FLOOR ELEVATORS

 

 

The 13th Floor Elevators were an American psychedelic rock band that got their start in Austin, Texas in 1965. They consisted of three musicians, Roky Erickson, Stacy Sutherland, and Tommy Hall, who played the electric jug. They are considered to be one of the very first psychedelic bands. The band’s musical style is somewhat unique in rock music due to the use of the electric jug.

The band’s debut album, “The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators” was released in 1966, and contained their only hit, You’re Gonna Miss Me. The song reached number 55 on the charts. It is arguably the first recorded psychedelic song, and it sounds great, and has that garage rock feel to it.

The next song on the record is Roller Coaster, with a great opening guitar piece that sounds very familiar, and then the electric jug comes in, giving the song and interesting pop. Actually, many of the songs by The 13th Floor Elevators have the jug spattering in the background, and it gives the music a deep, low feeling.

Early 13th Floor Elevators concert poster in Austin, Texas

When I first heard the jug on the record, I was a bit perplexed, as I had never heard it on an album before. I quickly took to it, and it’s jumpy, poppy sound. It is weird at first, but it works.

Splash 1(Now I’m Home) is a slower song, but beautifully executed. This tune has some good guitar work, but it is without the jug this time, and the tune wouldn’t sound right with it anyway.

With Reverberation, the jug comes out again in full force, with great garage rock guitars.

Don’t Fall Down is another slower song with a nice guitar intro, and this time the jug makes an appearance and it works. This is basically a straight up love song, with a warning to the boy not to screw up, because she is there for him. Very nice tune.

The next song, Fire Engine, starts out with an attempt to sound like an actual fire engine, but to me the guitarwork and vocals at the beginning remind me of a 60’s surf tune. Very sixties, early psychedelia.

Thru The Rhythm has those sixties guitars again, and this song caught my attention right away, because I thought Mick Jagger was the vocalist, at least at the very beginning of the song. And, of course, here come the jugs again. Great tune.

You Don’t Know is the next song on the record, and it is pretty standard fare for the era, with the exception of the electric jug in the background, which gives the song that recognisable 13th Floor Elevators feel.

Kingdom Of Heaven is one of my favorite songs on the album. It starts off with slow, haunting guitars, and the song as a whole is very eerie, and makes me think it would be a great soundtrack for a horror movie. Classic sixties music at it’s best.

This is one of the classic psychedelic records in my opinion, and as stated before, it is considered to be the first to experiment with the sound that defines the genre. The quality is not stellar, it is very raw in its execution, but it is pure, and entertaining, and is one of my favorites.

Rating: A-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strawberry Alarm Clock-Incense & Peppermints

STRAWBERRY ALARM CLOCK-INCENSE & PEPPERMINTS
STRAWBERRY ALARM CLOCK-INCENSE & PEPPERMINTS

The psychedelic band, Strawberry Alarm Clock, began in Los Angeles in 1967. They have had many lineup changes over the course of their career. Their music has been described as psychedelic rock, psychedelic pop, and sunshine pop.

Strawberry Alarm Clock’s debut record entitled “Incense and Peppermints,” was released in 1967, and the song Incense and Peppermints reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart.

The record being reviewed here is the compilation album entitled “Incense & Peppermints,” which may be confusing because it has an ampersand in place of the word “and” on the original debut. This review is of the songs listed on the compilation.

The first song on the compilation is their biggest hit, and most recognisable song Incense and Peppermints. It became a huge number one hit and is remembered as their signature song. It is my favorite Strawberry Alarm Clock song, and to watch the video below, I get that trippy feeling that is what these psychedelic bands were going for back in that era.

The next song on the compilation, Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow is a song that is pretty self explanatory. It is slow, mellow, and just the right song for the lazy summer day in the sun, or the rain, psychedelic sixties style. Or take it indoors, turn down the lights, fire up the lava lamp, and do whatever people did back in the day. I wish I was around then to enjoy the vibe, but as I’ve stated before in other reviews, I just missed all the fun.

Birds In My Tree is the next song which starts out like it is going to be hard, but slows down when the vocals kick in. It is another feel good mellow song of peace and hope, at least that is how I interpret it.

Sit With The Guru is a happy song, and is a tune that perfectly describes what the phrase sunshine pop means. Listen, get happy, and feel good is the message.

Tomorrow is the next song on the compilation, another feel good trippy tune with some great harmonies. A beautiful song.

Barefoot in Baltimore is another song with great harmony parts, and it is a tune that seems to show a scene in the hot summer hanging out in Baltimore. Another feel good song to me, if not a bit about the hardships of growing up in the city.

Good Morning Starshine is another tune that can be considered sunshine pop, and it has been covered by many musicians, but this version is my favorite.

Birdman of Alkatrash is a silly spoof about the birdman of alcatraz, and has Donald Duck make some appearances. It was the b-side of the number one hit Incense and Peppermints. It is a garage rock sounding song that many people seem to dislike. I think it’s fun, and it makes me wonder what the guys were on when they recorded it.

Strawberries Mean Love is my least favorite on the compilation, and I still like it. It is kind of slow and drawn out, which works for this band most of the time.

The last song on the compilation, Starting Out The Day, is an upbeat tune that makes me feel that everything is alright with the world, at least back in the psychedelic sixties.

I was actually confused myself when I purchased the cd, because I thought it was Strawberry Alarm Clock’s debut album. After listening to it multiple times, and doing some research, I realized that this is a compilation, and I like it so much, now that I know better, I need to get all their studio albums. Much more great music to be discovered by Strawberry Alarm Clock.

Rating: A

Silver Apples

SILVER APPLES(1968)

 

Silver Apples was a psychedelic, electronic music band from New York City. There were only two members in the band, Simeon(Simeon Oliver Coxe III) and Danny Taylor. Simeon played on a synthesizer that he named, oddly enough, The Simeon. Danny Taylor played drums.

Silver Apples are credited with influencing experimental electronic music, as well as a genre referred to as krautrock. They also influenced underground dance music and indie rock that were popular in the 1990’s.

Their music was considered minimalistic due to the fact that used a very limited amount of musical instruments and materials. There sound was highly experimental for the time, consisting of basically Danny Taylor playing drum parts, and Simeon playing synthesizer. The sound was that of a pulsing, hypnotic synthesizer and drum beat and lyrics.

As with many albums, it took me some time to get used to, and I wasn’t exactly impressed on first listen. But after subsequent listen throughs, I came to appreciate it’s pulsating beats and great drumwork. The singing I’d rate rather low, but the musicality makes up for it.

The self titled debut was released in 1968, and didn’t cause much of a stir or attention. It was a highly innovative and influential record, but in 1968, because of it’s obscure sound and experimentation, it was basically overlooked. To listen to it today, it sounds ahead of it’s time for the era in which it was released.

The first song on the record is titled Oscillations, and it is an obscure, but highly interesting start. Either it is shut down and thought of as junk to be shunned, or, if stuck with and continued to be listened too, can become mesmerizing. The choice is up to the listener. I’m glad I gave it a chance.

The next song on the record is Seagreen Serenades, a piece that is opened with a groovy drum track that is repeated over and over again throughout. There is a nice middle which seems to be a flute, however I am pretty sure it is Simeon doing his thing on his homemade synthesizer. As with much of the material, it has a driving mesmerizing beat, which I can imagine would be enhanced with a bit of alcohol, are LSD. It was the sixties, after all.

Lovefingers is the next song, with the drum intro again, and synthesized bleeps and drones, and lyrics that you have to really listen intently to to get the jist. Vocals were not the strong point on the record. It is one of the best songs on the record in my opinion.

Dancing Gods is especially interesting to me, because first and foremost, the drumming in the song sounds like a native american rain dance, or maybe a war dance. This hard driving, continuous beat is a sound that I’ve always been drawn to.

Although it is not always easy to understand, the lyrics are beautiful, and can be looked up if interested as to exactly what they are. To me, the lyrics are obviously about a native american ritual of some kind. Actually, despite the vocals not always being completely coherent, much of the lyrical content on the record is very well written, and in some cases, poetic.

Silver Apples is an acquired taste, but they sound timeless, and the music is as fresh sounding today as it did fifty years ago. If you heard it and knew nothing at all about it, it would seem like it could have been recorded recently, and hold up to modern standards.

Rating: B-


 

 

 

Small Faces-Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake

SMALL FACES-OGDENS’ NUT GONE FLAKE(1968)

 

Small Faces was a British psychedelic band that formed in East London, United Kingdom in 1965. They are considered an influential mod group in the sixties, and was extremely popular in the UK.

Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake was Small Faces third record, and first concept album released on the 24th of May, 1968. The album was wildly popular in the UK, and reached the number 1 position on the music charts, where it stayed for six weeks.

When first listening to the record, I wasn’t overly impressed. This is unfortunate, but I feel the reason is that the record has a lot of cultural meaning in the United Kingdom, and I couldn’t really get the focus of what the record was about.

Being a concept album, I began my journey listening to it without any point of reference, and it fell short for me because of it. Also, musically, it didn’t seem very psychedelic to me, as I was comparing it to what I was listening to in the States.

By the third or fourth listen, and with a little background research, I was hooked.

The reason it probably never resonated that well in the States as it did in Britain, is because of the purely British imagery and personalities involved. However, after a couple of listens it was apparent that it was a great album musically.

The first song on the record, Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake, is an instrumental piece that starts out with a cool jazzy feel and a funky bass line that I love. It sets the musical tone of the record, which at first, does not seem very psychedelic.

The next song, Afterglow (Of Your Love), is a great, and very recognisable among fans who know the work of Small Faces. It was actually the last single by the group to make the British charts, reaching number 36.

Another song on the record, Lazy Sunday, was a hit for the band in 1968 that reached number two on the charts. It was a song that the band did not want released, and it features frontman Steve Marriott singing in a strong Cockney accent about the feuds that he had with his neighbors. It took awhile for me to appreciate the song, but after a few listens, it became one of my favorites on the record.

The remaining six songs on the record comprise the concept part of the album, and is another part of the record that I found unappealing before I did a bit of research.

The main character of the second part of the record is a fairy tale about Happiness Stan, and the way in which it was narrated gave me a bit of a pause to do some more reading.

The narration was by a British comedian named Stanley Unwin, and he concocted a mangles form of English that was known as Unwinese. It takes some serious intense listening to pick up what he is saying on the album.

The fairy tale follows Stan as he is searching for the missing half of the half moon. It has to be heard a few times to fully appreciate the tale, but in the end Stan’s psychedelic journey ends on a positive note.

Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake was never performed live to to its many intricacies and complexities. It has its moments of filler, but otherwise is a record I came to really appreciate. Small Faces career was short lived, with members splitting up and joining other bands, and I encourage anyone interested in their interesting history, and the history of this particular record to do some reading about them further.

This particular release that I own also comes with many great bonus tracks that are also worth a listen, featuring one of their hits Itchycoo Park.

Rating: B+


 

 

 

 

Quicksilver Messenger Service

QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE(1968)

 

 Quicksilver Messenger Service

 

Quicksilver Messenger Service was a psychedelic rock band that got their start in San Francisco, California in 1965. The band originally consisted of David Freiberg, Gary Duncan, Greg Elmore, and John Cipollina.

They are known for their classic psychedelic guitar sound, and their long jam songs, that lead to the comparison to their San Francisco band neighbors The Grateful Dead. Their jam songs were more polished and rehearsed than The Dead, who were more into improvisation.

Though Quicksilver Messenger Service never became as popular as fellow San Francisco area bands The Grateful Dead and The Jefferson Airplane, they did become very successful not only in San Francisco, but for psychedelic music lovers all over the world. They have many top 40 albums to their credit.

Quicksilver Messenger Service is the self titled debut album of the band that was released in 1968. It is a short record, just under thirty two minutes, but the final song on the album, The Fool, comes in at over twelve minutes. It is a masterful work, with awesome guitar work throughout the song, and in some spots, reminds me of The Doors classic tune The End.

The album starts out with a catchy cover song, Pride Of Man, that is one of my favorites on this short album. Many musicians and bands covered Pride Of Man, but Quiksilver’s version is considered one of the best.

Dino’s Song is classic San Francisco psychedelic rock, commonly known as the San Francisco Sound. This song represents this part of the genre that is quintessential San Francisco with echos of The Airplane as well as The Dead, and many other lesser known bands of the area. It is a great song, that is immediately recognisable as being West Coast San Francisco psychedelia.

The next song is Gold and Silver, a instrumental piece that has jazz elements to it, great jazz drums, as well as what could be considered smooth jazzy guitar work. All the while maintaining its strong psychedelic guitar feel in parts of the song.  This instrumental is very underrated in my opinion, and I feel this is one of the better instrumental pieces of the psychedelic era.

It’s Been Too Long is another psychedelic song with great guitar work, but this one has a little bit of a country feel to it. It shows the musical range of the band, from rock, to psychedelia, to jazz and country.

Much of the guitar work on the record has a bit of a twang to it, which gives the album as a whole a bit of a country feel to it. Not so much that it is a predominant part of the music,but it supports it. A great blend of sounds that gives the album a sophisticated, clean feel.

The last song on the album, The Fool, is a lengthy, twelve minute jam that is outstanding. There are times during the song where the guitarwork is is masterful, as stated before, but is worth repeating. It is one of the greatest jams every recorded in my opinion. When performing in concert, Quicksilver would extend this song into a longer jam. It is worth the price of the cd for this song alone. Outstanding record from beginning to end, some of the best music of the psychedelic era.

Rating: A