Posts Tagged ‘Psych’

Tom Armstrong: The Sky is an Empty Eye

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

Superb private press album of guitar instrumentals

When you can make a record with a USB microphone and cloud-based recording, it’s hard to remember the revolution that was home recording. TEAC’s 4-track reel-to-reel recorders (and TASCAM’s later cassette-based Portastudio) for the semi-pro market allowed home recordists to multi-track and overdub without the overbearing expense (and ticking clock) of studio time. Some of these sessions ended up in the commercial market, but many were unspooled only for friends and family, or circulated in local vinyl pressings. Tompkins Square sampled several of these small batch recordings on Imaginational Anthem, Vol. 8: The Private Press, and now expands on the theme with this first of several planned full album reissues.

Tom Armstrong had hung around the edges of the music business, playing bars and open mics, but when his engineering career took off, dreams of a professional music career were put aside. But a 4-track gifted to him by his wife kept his guitar playing alive, and provided a creative outlet into which he poured this original music. Though he kept recording for more than a decade, this is the one collection of songs he had mastered and pressed to vinyl, handing out copies mostly to friends and business associates. He favors meditative acoustic tracks, such as the harmonic-filled opener and the somnambulistic “Dream Waltz,” but he adds dripping neo-psych notes to “Keller,” picks electric slide on “The Thing,” and sings the title track.

The album’s variety might have driven a market-seeking record label crazy, but it’s exactly that free-spiritedness that gives the album its charm. The segue from the finger-picked electric “Mama’s Baby” to the echoed, nearly discordant “Bebop” suggests the evolution of blues into jazz, and the album continues to evolve as it closes with the driving spaciness of “Thunder Clouds.” Most of the arrangements appear to be two or maybe three guitars, sometimes rhythm and lead, often interleaving in original ways. Armstrong’s technique is good, but it’s his musical imagination and the freedom to follow his muse without commercial pressure that really gives these recordings their power. [©2017 Hyperbolium]

Tompkins Square’s Home Page

The Creation: Action Painting

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

The Creation gets their due with deluxe box set

Many U.S. listeners were first introduced to the Creation via the inclusion of their debut single, “Making Time,” in the film Rushmore. It was a canny selection, harboring the angst of the early Kinks and Who, but without the familiarity that’s turned their viscerality into a nostalgic echo. Fans have been serviced by reissues and compilations, but never before a comprehensive box set of their mid-60s glory. Numero fills the void with this 2-CD, 46-track collection, served up with a hard-covered 80-page booklet of photographs, ephemera, label and sleeve reproductions, liner notes by Dean Rudland and detailed session notes by Alec Palao.

Like many bands of the beat era, a complete catalog of the Creation’s releases includes singles, albums, mono and stereo mixes, versions prepared for foreign markets, and sundry odds ‘n’ sods. Numero collects all of this, starting with the original mono masters on disc one and four (of the original eight) mono sides by the pre-Creation Mark Four kicking off disc two. The bulk of disc two is taken up by new stereo mixes created for this set by Alec Palao (and approved by original producer Shel Talmy), along with previously unissued backing tracks for “Making Time” and “How Does It Feel to Feel,” and an unedited cut of “Sylvette.”

The stereo mixes maintain a surprising amount of the original recordings’ punch. To be sure, there’s alchemy in the mono sides, but the guitar, bass, drums and vocals are each so individually driven that the stereo mixes don’t drain the records of their attack. And spreading out the guitar, lead and backing vocals adds welcome definition to many tracks. Even more interesting is that both in mono and stereo, producer Shel Talmy’s distinctive style – particularly in recording the drums and the presence of Nicky Hopkins on piano – puts these tracks in a sonic league with the early sides he made with the Who.

The earliest Mark Four singles (unfortunately not included here) featured cover songs, but by 1965 the group was recording original material that had the blues base of the Yardbirds with the garage attitude of Mouse & The Traps and the Shadows of Knight. The B-side “I’m Leaving” finds Eddie Phillips wringing truly original sounds from his guitar as the drums vamp a modified Bo Diddley beat for a then-generous 3:32 running time. It was a sign of what was to come, as the group’s 1966 debut as the Creation sported what many believe to be the first use of a bowed guitar.

Eddie Phillips departed in late 1967, but with vault material still being released, and tours still being offered, the band soldiered on into 1968. They added Ron Wood in between his time with the Birds and the Jeff Beck Group, and he played on a handful of singles that started with “Midway Down” and its flip, “The Girls Are Naked.” Some iteration of the group (exactly which is a subject of discussion in Palao’s session notes) recorded posthumously released covers of Larry Williams’ “Bony Moronie” and Cannonball Adderley’s “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” and the group’s final single, “For All That I Am” garnered little attention in its Germany-only release.

At well over two hours of music, Numero’s set provides a definitive recitation of the Creation’s original mono run, a worth-hearing restatement in stereo, and the odds ‘n’ sods that mark a spelunking of the vault. The book is rendered in microscopic print, but it’s worth digging out a magnifying glass to read Palao’s meticulous recording and mixing notes. The reproduced photos, correspondence, labels, picture sleeves and tape boxes perfectly complement this salute to a band whose commercial fortunes never rose to the level of their musical and stage artistry. [©2017 Hyperbolium]

Matt Costa: Music From the Motion Picture Orange Sunshine

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

mattcosta_orangesunshineSuperb evocation of late-60s psychedelic soundtracks

If you were making a documentary on a renegade 1960s LSD collective, Huntington Beach singer-songwriter Matt Costa might not be your first thought for a period-evoking soundtrack. But Costa’s roots in Orange County match those of the Brotherhood at the film’s center, and the seeds of his nostalgic musical constructions can be found in his catalog. The resulting soundtrack for the film Orange Sunshine is the sort of ersatz experience one gained from AIP’s exploitation films – music that is of the era, but doesn’t define it. Costa deftly evokes the ‘60s with fuzzed guitars, hallucinogenic flights, West Coast jazz odysseys, blue funk, folk fingerpicking, ragas and even a touch of strategically placed vinyl surface noise.

The compositions lean to mood-setting instrumentals, but the vocal tracks – particularly the Airplane-styled “Born in My Mind” – are spot-on. What rats this out as homage rather than artifact is the crisp fidelity – something that couldn’t easily be achieved on a shoestring budget in 1968. Most impressive is that Costa wrote, engineered, produced and performed the entire album – especially remarkable on “ensemble” jams like “The Fuzz.” Several of the cuts are under two minutes – often leaving you wanting more – but this works nicely as a standalone album of ‘60s-tinged psych, jazz, soul and rock, and provides a terrific complement to the film. [©2017 Hyperbolium]

Matt Costa’s Home Page

The Royal Hangmen: Hanged, Drawn & Quartered

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

royalhangmen_hangeddrawnandquarteredPysch-edged garage rock from… Switzerland?

If you ever stopped to think about Swiss garages, you probably imagined super clean floors and tools neatly aligned on a pegboard. But The Royal Hangmen (who shouldn’t be confused with the plebeian UK and US Hangmen) have shoved all that aside and dialed up fuzzed-out guitars, thumping drums and VOX organ. Well, actually, they hightailed it to Hamburg where the atmosphere was no doubt more conducive to recording 60s-styled garage rock than Zurich. They’ve parlayed their beginnings as a cover band (which also spawned the fine EP Hell Yeah: An 80s Garage Tribute) into original material that recalls the Shadows of Knight, early Stones and the seemingly endless stream of one-off Pebbles bands.

The Royal Hangmen aren’t unprecedented in Alps-rock history, as period Swiss garage bands included The Sevens, Nightbirds and Bad Generation. There are also contemporaries like the Come n’ Go and at times The Animen, but none capture the sound of ‘65 and ‘66 (or perhaps even more so, the ‘80s revival sound of the Lyres and Fuzztones) as do the Royal Hangmen. Vocalist Vasco Saxer has the attitude to sell epithets like “you got no soul,” and the guitars and organ have just the right tone. The group dips into ‘60s beat with the instrumental “Groovadelic,” riffs on a Yardbirds bass line for “Go Away Baby,” and turns psychedelic on “Step Out of the Dark” and “Feed the Monkey.” Great stuff! [©2016 Hyperbolium]

The Royal Hangmen’s Home Page

Feral Ohms: Love Damage

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

If you missed the MC5 and Stooges at Detroit’s Grande Ballroom, Oakland, California’s Feral Ohms gives you a chance to tap a similar vein of unhinged rock ‘n’ roll. Their full-length debut, Live in San Francisco, drops October 21st, and the first single, “Love Damage,” streams below.

Feral Ohms’ Facebook Page

The Embrooks: Nightmare 7″

Friday, September 9th, 2016

It’s been more than a decade since the Embrooks dropped their second album, Yellow Glass Perspections, and parted ways. But they’re back with a terrific pair of freakbeat tunes that include the garage, mod and psych influences that made their earlier work so exciting. They’re as good as ever, if not better! Shades of early Who, Small Faces, the Creation and more.

The Embrooks Facebook Page
Buy the 7″

The Bangles: Ladies and Gentlemen… The Bangles!

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Bangles_LadiesAndGentlemenTheBangsThe Bangles’ Rosetta stone is their fans’ holy grail

For anyone who latched onto the Bangles before their major label makeover on Columbia, the first half of this CD remains the band’s Rosetta stone. Though hits and international fame would come later, the eight tracks released in 1981-2 remain the group’s purest statement of their 60s-tinged harmony rock. They never wrote, played or sang with more elan, and the youthful effervescence of this early work is as compelling today as it was thirty-five years ago. The group first appeared on vinyl as The Bangs with the fan club single “Getting Out of Hand” b/w “Call On Me.” Its local circulation left most listeners to meet the band, renamed as The Bangles, on the compilation Rodney on the ROQ, Vol. III, and then retroactively track down the single’s more widely circulated reissue.

In 1982, amid the the Salvation Army’s self-titled debut, Green on Red’s debut EP, the Dream Syndicate’s Days of Wine and Roses, the Three O’Clock’s Baroque Hoedown, and the Rain Parade’s first single, there was the Bangles’ self-titled five song EP on Faulty. The EP’s four original songs were the perfect lead-in to a scorching cover of the La De Da’s “How is the Air Up There?” Though reissued by IRS, the EP was mostly lost to fans the band picked up with their major label debut, All Over the Place, and even more so in the full rush of fame brought by Different Light. Bits and pieces of the EP reappeared as B-sides and on compilations, but the full EP remained unreissued until this collection was released as MP3s in 2014. Now on CD, the EP can be heard without compression.

Filling out this disc are four full-fidelity demos, a pair of 1984 live tracks, and a commercial for No Magazine. The demos include early takes of “Call On Me” and “The Real World,” a harmony-rich cover of the Turtles’ “Outside Chance” and a tough take on Paul Revere and the Raiders’ “Steppin’ Out.” The live cuts are “Tell Me” (from All Over the Place), and a cover of Love’s “7 & 7 Is.” The disc closes with 1982’s “The Rock & Roll Alternative Program Theme Song,” a tune the group recorded for George Gimarc’s pioneering radio show. The only thing missing is the promo-only 12” remix of “The Real World,” but that’s a nit. This is the holy grail for Bangles fans, especially those who never completely cottoned to the commercial polish of their Columbia years. [©2016 Hyperbolium]

The Bangles’ Home Page

Queen of Jeans: EP

Saturday, March 12th, 2016

This Philadelphia quartet’s first two tracks (“Dance (Get Off Your Ass)” and “Rollerdyke“) are now expanded with four additions into a eponymous EP, streamable below, downloadable from Bandcamp, and buyable as a vinyl 12″ from Third Uncle. The new songs are just as mesmerizing in their nods to 1960s girl groups and lush 1990s alternatives run through a dreamy DIY psych aesthetic. Great stuff!

And while you’re here, check out their live set for WXPN:

Queen of Jeans: Rollerdyke

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

This Philadelphia quartet’s first single sounded like something you’d have heard on Girls in the Garage or perhaps from the Pussywillows, or the Bangs before they became the Bangles. The group’s second single moves from the garage to the ballroom with a flowing neo-psych sound and a driving beat. Their debut EP is slated for January 22!

Queen of Jeans’ Facebook Page

In Memoriam: 2015

Saturday, December 26th, 2015

Ben E. King, 1938-2015

Listen to a selection of artists on Mixcloud or Spotify

January
Little Jimmy Dickens, country vocalist and guitarist
Andrae Crouch, pastor and gospel vocalist
Curtis Lee, vocalist (“Pretty Little Angel Eyes”)
Ray McFall, nightclub owner (The Cavern Club)
Popsy Dixon, vocalist and drummer (The Holmes Brothers)
Tim Drummond, bassist (Bob Dylan, Neil Young, CSN&Y)
Bill Thompson, manager (Jefferson Airplane)
Trevor Leonard Ward-Davies (aka “Dozy”), bassist (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Titch)
Ervin Drake, songwriter (“It Was a Very Good Year”)
Kim Fowley, producer, manager, songwriter and vocalist
Ian Allen, culture jammer (Negativland)
Dallas Taylor, rock drummer (CSN&Y)
Ward Swingle, vocalist (The Swingle Singers)
Edgar Froese, keyboardist (Tangerine Dream)
Rose Marie McCoy, songwriter (“I Beg of You” “Trying to Get to You”)
Joe Franklin, radio and television host
Neil Levang, guitarist (The Lawrence Welk Show)
Stephen R. Johnson, music video director (“Sledgehammer”)
Danny McCulloch, rock bassist (The Animals)
Rod McKuen, poet, songwriter and vocalist
Don Covay, vocalist and songwriter (“Chain of Fools”)

February
Joe B. Mauldin, rock ‘n’ roll bassist (The Crickets)
Thom Wilson, engineer and producer (Offspring, Dead Kennedys)
Sam Andrew, rock guitarist (Big Brother and the Holding Company)
Mosie Lister, gospel vocalist and songwriter (The Statesmen Quartet)
Gary Owens, disc jockey (KEWB, KFWB, KMPC) and television announcer
Steve Strange, new wave vocalist (Visage)
Leslie Gore, pop vocalist and songwriter
Clark Terry, jazz trumpeter and flugelhornist
Bobby Emmons, keyboardist and songwriter (“Luckenbach, Texas”)
Tod Dockstader, electronic music composer
Leonard Nimoy, actor, poet and vocalist

March
Orrin Keepnews, record executive and producer
Brian Carman, surf guitarist (Chantays) and songwriter (“Pipeline”)
Albert Maysles, documentarian (“Gimme Shelter”)
Lew Soloff, trumpeter and flugelhornist (Blood, Sweat & Tears)
Jerry Brightman, pedal steel guitarist (Buckaroos)
Eugene Patton, stagehand (“Gene Gene the Dancing Machine”)
Wayne Kemp, vocalist, guitarist and songwriter (“One Piece at a Time”)
Jimmy Greenspoon, rock keyboardist (Three Dog Night)
Daevid Allen, guitarist and vocalist (Soft Machine, Gong)
Bob Parlocha, jazz radio broadcaster (KJAZ)
Don Robertson, songwriter (“Please Help Me I’m Falling” “Ringo”)
Andy Fraser, rock bassist and songwriter (Free)
Samuel Charters, music historian
Michael Brown, songwriter and keyboardist (The Left Banke)
A.J. Pero, rock drummer (Twister Sister)
Miriam Bienstock, record company executive and theatrical producer
Al Bunetta, manager (Steve Goodman, John Prine)
John Renbourn, guitarist and songwriter (Pentangle)
Preston Ritter, rock drummer (The Electric Prunes)

April
Cynthia Lennon, author, first wife of John Lennon and mother of Julian
Dave Ball, rock guitarist (Procol Harum, Bedlam)
Doug Sax, audio mastering engineer (Doors, Rolling Stones, Who)
Robert Lewis “Bob” Burns Jr., drummer (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
Ray Charles, vocalist, songwriter and arranger (The Ray Charles Singers)
Milton DeLugg, musician, arranger, conductor and composer
Stan Freberg, comedian, parodist, broadcaster, advertising executive
Keith McCormack, vocalist, guitarist and songwriter (“Sugar Shack”)
Bill Arhos, television broadcaster and founder of Austin City Limits
Percy Sledge, vocalist
Billy Ray Hearn, record company executive (Myrrh)
Wally Lester, doo-wop vocalist (The Skyliners)
Sid Tepper, songwriter (“Red Roses for a Blue Lady” “G.I. Blues”)
Suzanne Crowe, actress and percussionist (The Partridge Family)
Jack Ely, rock ‘n’ roll guitarist and vocalist (The Kingsmen)
Steven Goldmann, music video director (Faith Hill’s “This Kiss”)
Ben E. King, vocalist and songwriter

May
Guy Carawan, folk musician and musicologist
Errol Brown, vocalist and songwriter (Hot Chocolate)
Rutger Gunnarsson, bassist (ABBA)
Johnny Gimble, western swing and country fiddler
Stan Cornyn, music industry executive (Warner Brothers, Reprise)
B.B. King, blues guitarist, vocalist and songwriter
Bruce Lundvall, record company executive (Blue Note, Angel, Manhattan)
Twinkle (Lynn Annette Ripley), pop vocalist and songwrite
Louis Johnson, bassist (The Brothers Johnson)
Johnny Keating, songwriter and arranger
Jim Bailey, vocalist, actor and impressionist (Judy Garland, Peggy Lee)
Julie Harris, costume designer (A Hard Day’s Night, Help)

June
Jean Ritchie, folk vocalist, songwriter and dulcimer player
Dennis Ferrante, recording engineer (John Lennon, Harry Nilsson)
Ronnie Gilbert, folk vocalist and songwriter (The Weavers)
Paul Bacon, album cover designer (Thelonious Monk, Chet Baker)
Randy Howard, country vocalist and songwriter
James Last, composer and bandleader
Johnny Keating, composer and arranger (“Theme for Z Cars”)
Jim Ed Brown, country vocalist and songwriter (The Browns)
Ornette Coleman, jazz saxophonist and visionary
Monica Lewis, jazz and commercial vocalist (Chiquita Banana)
Stephen Blauner, agent, manager and producer
Phil Austin, actor, comedian, writer, musician and radio broadcaster (The Firesign Theater)
Harold Battiste, saxophonist, arranger and composer
Wendell Holmes, guitarist and songwriter (The Holmes Brothers)
James Horner, film score composer, conductor and arranger (Titanic)
Chris Squire, bassist and songwriter (Yes)
Bruce Rowland, drummer (Grease Band, Fairport Convention)

July
Red Lane, country vocalist and songwriter
Roy C. Bennett, songwriter (“Red Roses for a Blue Lady” “G.I. Blues”)
Jerry Weintraub, film producer, manager, promoter and vocalist
Ernie Maresca, vocalist, songwriter (“Runaround Sue”) and record company executive
Michael Masser, songwriter (“Touch Me in the Morning”)
Tom Skinner, red dirt vocalist and songwriter
David Somerville, vocalist (The Diamonds)
Doug Layton, radio personality and Beatles boycotter
Buddy Buie, songwriter (“Spooky” “So Into You”) and producer
Van Alexander, composer, arranger and bandleader
Wayne Carson, songwriter (“The Letter” “Always on My Mind”)
Dieter Moebius, electronic music pioneer (Kluster, Brian Eno)
Theodore Bikel, actor, vocalist, activist and composer
Don Joyce, writer, producer, actor and radio broadcaster (Negativland, Over the Edge)
Vic Firth, percussionist and percussion stick maker
Buddy Emmons, pedal steel guitarist
Lynn Anderson, country vocalist

August
Cilla Black, vocalist, actress and media personality
Ken Barnes, author and producer
Billy Sherrill, producer, songwriter and arranger
Don Kent, blues historian and record label owner
Gary Keys, documentarian and concert producer
Bob Johnston, producer (Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel) and songwriter
Danny Sembello, producer and songwriter (“Neutron Dance”)
Joy Beverley, vocalist (Beverley Sisters)

September
Owen “Boomer” Castleman, vocalist and guitarist (Lewis & Clarke Expedition), inventor (Palm Pedal)
Rico Rodriguez, ska and reggae trombonist (Specials)
Hal Willis, country vocalist (“The Lumberjack”)
Frederick “Dennis” Greene, vocalist (Sha Na Na)
Augusta Lee Collins, blues drummer, vocalist and guitarist
Smokey WIlson, blues guitarist
Gary Richrath, rock guitarist and songwriter (REO Speedwagon)
Peggy “Lady Bo” Jones, rock ‘n’ roll guitarist
Ben Cauley, trumpeter (Bar-Kays)
Wilton Felder, saxophonist and bassist (Jazz Crusaders)
Frankie Ford, vocalist (“Sea Cruise”)
Phil Woods, jazz saxophonist (“Just the Way You Are”)

October
Big Tom Parker, disc jockey (KFRC, KYUU, K101, KOIN, KMGI, KXL)
Dave Pike, jazz vibraphonist
Smokey Johnson, drummer (Fats Domino) and songwriter
Billy Joe Royal, pop vocalist (“Down in the Boondocks” “Cherry Hill Park”)
Gail Zappa, widow of Frank Zappa and trustee of the Zappa Family Estate
Larry Rosen, producer and label founder (GRP)
Steve Mackay, saxophonist (The Stooges)
Hal Hackady, lyricist and and screenwriter (“Let’s Go Mets!”)
Steve Gebhardt, filmmaker (“Ladies and Gentlemen, the Rolling Stones”)
John Jennings, musician and producer (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
Cory Wells, rock vocalist (Three Dog Night)
Arnold Klein, dermatologist (Michael Jackson)
Leon Bibb, folk and theater vocalist
Nat Peck, jazz trombonist
David Rodriguez, vocalist, songwriter and father of Carrie Rodriguez
Herbie Goins, R&B vocalist

November
Tommy Overstreet, country vocalist
Chuck Pyle, country vocalist, guitarist and songwriter
Eddie Hoh, session drummer (Donovan, Monkees, Mamas & Papas)
Charlie Dick, widower of Patsy Cline and record promoter
Andy White, drummer (The Beatles’ “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You”)
Martin Beard, rock bassist (Sopwith Camel)
Allen Toussaint, musician, songwriter and producer
Phil Taylor, drummer (Motörhead)
P.F. Sloan, vocalist, songwriter and producer
Al Aarons, jazz trumpeter (Count Basie Orchestra)
Ramona Jones, fiddler (Hee Haw)
Mack McCormick, musicologist and folklorist
Norman Pickering, engineer and inventor (Pickering phonographic stylus)
Arthur Brooks, vocalist (The Impressions)
Cynthia Robinson, trumpeter (Sly and the Family Stone)
Ronnie Bright, doo-wop vocalist (Valentines, Coasters, “Mr. Bassman”)
Wayne Bickerton, songwriter, producer, label executive and bassist
Buddy Moreno, big band vocalist, bandleader and radio host

December
Alex Cooley, promoter (Atlanta International Pop Festival, Mar Y Sol)
Scott Weiland, vocalist and songwriter (Stone Temple Pilots)
John Garner, drummer and vocalist (Sir Lord Baltimore)
Marque Lynch, vocalist (Lion King, American Idol, Mickey Mouse Club)
Franz “Franzl” Lang, German yodel king, accordionist and guitarist
Bonnie Lou, country vocalist and television performer
Gary Marker, bassist and engineer (Rising Sons, Captain Beefheart)
Rusty Jones, jazz drummer
Luigi Creatore, songwriter and producer (“The Lion Sleeps Tonight”)
Adam Roth, guitarist (Jim Carroll, Del Fuegos)
Snuff Garrett, producer (Gary Lewis & The Playboys)
William Guest, R&B vocalist (Gladys Knight & The Pips)
Takeharu Kunimoto, shamisen player and bluegrass musician
Stevie Wright, pop vocalist (The Easybeats)
John Bradbury, drummer (The Specials)
Lemmy Kilmister, rock vocalist, bassist and songwriter (Motörhead)
Joe Houston, R&B saxophonist
Natalie Cole, vocalist and daughter of Nat “King” Cole