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Except where noted,
all original text & art ©2009 Eddie Flowers
SPINNIN' SOME VINYL
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Joyride (RCA Records LP, 1969) In 1967, Drake Levin, Phil Volk, and Mike
Smith (all former members of Paul Revere & the Raiders) formed a band
called Brotherhood. They released two LPs in '68 and '69. Sometime during
this period, they were also allowed to record this musical "joyride" with
a bunch of friends and outside musicians. From this came one of the most
peculiar American psychedelic LPs of the time. As a kid, I related it to
the second disc of the Mothers' Freak Out! album, and
there's certainly some of that freak-out thing here. What you hear is mostly
experimental and improvised. And it's just beautiful! But there's also Drake
Levin's "Love Sketch," a delicate psychedelic instrumental and the only written
piece here. And there's "Childsong," with field recordings of kids playing
mixed in with unobtrusive space music. A lot of what's happening here is
the three Brotherhood members using "the control console as a musical instrument"--i.e.,
they're (re-)mixing and adding effects through the mixing board. The second
side consists of two nine-minute pieces: a remixed jam called "Lost Angel
Proper St.," and "The Empire of Light." The latter consists of prepared piano (Phil Volk) and organ (by Ron Collins, a member
of Brotherhood on their first LP) being fucked with by Drake Levin and Mike
Smith behind the console. What they produce sounds like minimal space music.
KASENETZ-KATZ SUPER CIRCUS (Buddah Records LP, 1968)
Follow-up to The Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral
Circus LP, this finds bubblegum
producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeffrey Katz
tightening up their sub-sub-Sgt. Peppers
bubble-commune project to make one of the very best
60s bubblegum LPs. This time, the participating bands
in this alleged super session were the Ohio Express,
the 1910 Fruitgum Co., the Music Explosion, Prof.
Morrison's Lollipop (?), and for some extra punk
punch, the Shadows of Knight during their post-Dunwich
bubblegum phase. The Super Circus scored a big
hit with "Quick Joey Small," a just swell bit o'
nasal-snarl bubble-punk. That also applies to "I Got It
Bad for You," as well as the versions of the Ohio Express's
"Down at Lulu's" and especially the Shadows of Knight's
"Shake." Of course, all this stuff was just faked-up R&B,
as rock'n'roll had been for the most part, and they
include a couple delicious soul-gummers: "I'm in Love
With You" and "Easy to Love." The geek-snort vocal is retained,
though! All that rockin', and the Super-K crew also
manage to do some very listenable Beach Boys/Beatles-influenced
pop, make goofy self-references, and take a hilarious,
surprisingly sharp poke at then California Governor
Ronald Reagan ("A man who has so much hair/A man who
is not all there"). There's even a free-form drums'n'shouts
piece (obviously influenced by the Mothers in "freak-out"
mode) that sounds like Amon Düül
I trippin' on acid and beatin' on the hippie-cave walls.
MANCHAKOU -- "Hey (The Human Guitar"/"She Said"/"Murder" (Innocent
Records [UK] single, 1989) Cannot remember where I got this, but it's a weiner,
my friends--KILLUH Detroit-style fuzzkill, loose and loud, the song-stuff
sounding a bit like the Groovies' "Slow Death," but with a cool long-ish
solo after that stuff''s over. The two other songs are just as good, especially
the stun guitar solo on "She Said." Label was in London, so I assume they're
English--? On the back cover, they look like they're auditioning for a part
in The Bon Scott Story. Would not have been surprised
if they'd been Australian by sounds either.
THE TENNESSEE FARM BAND -- "Goin' Down to Georgia"/"Iva Lee"
(Farm Records single, 1976) I saw somebody describe this recently as
a "psych" record. Uh-uh. It's fuckin' Southern rock, man! The sleeve is kinda
psychedelic, though, so it was probably just somebody stupid (or deceptive?).
The band came out of the Farm Commune in Summertown, Tennessee. "Goin' Down
to Georgia" is a jes' fine slice of Skynyrd-like rockin'. Good loud guitar
solos. Chick singer w/ that Suthun sound. The flip-side's pretty bad, although
in a similar vein.
-- "Livin' High"/"Night Life" (Savannah Records single, circa 1975) Very
cool mid-70s hard-rock with the same kinda pre-punk attack as Thundertrain
. . . 70s-style rock crunch w/ raw done-it-theyself power that would've
been destroyed by their rockstar dreams of major labels and "good" studios.
And it concerns something that concerns most of us in these (and all) troubled
times: "Livin' high, livin' right"! Nice guitar solos too. The flip's almost
as good, w/ a bit of Suthun-rock guitar settin' it all off. Again, there's
a heavy theme: partying on the weekend! Finally, it ends up sounding like
an inspired Aerosmith move, but w/ that all important "crude" production.
Friday night forever! These boys were from Hollister, California.
LIGHTNING -- "The Lard"/"Silver Lining" (Wildwood Records single, 1973) Weird Chicago-area
single that only makes sense in the way the Midwest hung on hard to hippie
values. I was playing it for Greg to see if he was interested in buying--I
remembered it as a Chicago-area prog record. Well, right geography--but
not really prog. Think more like the Dead on a good night! We listened,
and I got excited. It's REAL GOOD! A snakey mid-tempo jam built around guitar
and piano interplay that has that Dead-like "majesty" all the way through--kinda
country-ish at times but, um, you know, tuh-rippy. And they're ON
too--great! Before the first side was over, I had already decided not to
sell it. So, I flipped it over to dig "Silver Lining." It's rockin'. There's
a vocal. It's . . . well, it reminds me of Mott the Hoople, again driven
by guitar and piano. It finally hits a spacey break, and whoa! a noisy,
creepy synth solo that sure don't sound like the Hoople! The music picks
back up, and the Mott-like rockin' continues. REAL NICE! (They should've
been on United Artists Records, probably as import only!) The label notes
that the single is "a product of . . . Village School of Music" in Deefield,
Illinois. I think I remember Graced Lightning also having a one-sided LP
(ask Cary Baker!).
SKOGIE -- "The Butler Did It"/"I Won't Be Pushed Away" (Mill
City Records single, 1973) Minneapolis power pop with exquisite synth touches.
The band reeks of bubblegum potential, but the music is a step above that.
They have the usual Midwestern power-pop tendencies mixed up with Roxy Music
and Chinn-Chapman UK bubblepop. "I Won't Be Pushed Away" is even better,
with a modern Romeo-and-Juliet plot backed by chuggin' Raspberries-like playing,
a fuckin' harpsichord (or synth replication), totally boss guitar solo,
handclaps (!), shinin' harmonies, and a clever bridge. Just about perfect.
Anybody know if their LP's any good? I didn't know about it until a couple
years ago, by which time it was expensive and I was broke.
* * *
SLIPPY TOWN TIMES #3
IN THIS ISSUE:
This Week in Slippy Town
& the Raiders
Spinnin' Some Vinyl
Remnants, leftovers, and
"related" items from the never-published last issue of this zine from
Krazee Ken and Ready Eddie of the Gizmos. With Lester Bangs, Patti Smith,
Richard Meltzer, Metal Mike, etc.