(Orchestrated Psychedelia from the USA)
Psychic Circle / www.soundlinkmusic.com
Put together by psych expert Nick Saloman and mastered by Dave Blackman, this record assembles 20 slices of vintage out-there rock cuts mainly featuring orchestral arrangements/backings . If I give you some of the artists and titles, you’ll get the picture of course : The Subterranean Monastery with ‘Realistic Patterns’, The Balloon Farm and ‘Hurry Up Sundown’, The Visions playing ‘Small Town Commotion’, The Sound Solution performing ‘I Had The Notion’. The compilers take the view that the orchestrations add to rather than dilute the impact of the songs ( and a quick personal note – if you want to hear the optimum use of arrangements with a rock band, just try the first album by West Coast group Spirit !)
What you might expect hear soundwise on these cuts is all present and correct – quirky tempo’s, Zombies-style vocal stylings, crisp drumming, eerie strings, steady bass lines, floating-in-the-park lyrics. The sound quality is pretty good and not over compressed – for example on opener ‘All Those Who Enter Here’ by Burned, a quite haunting piece with clipped trumpets in the mix. A sitar flourish and echoey piano start The Moon’s ‘Brother Lou’s Love Colony’ with a definite Magical Mystery Tour tinge, a weird catchiness..and love the bird twittering ; the stately Bubble perform ‘I Call Her Lady’ with it’s fuzz guitar and steady horn arrangement and perhaps over-earnest vocal. Compass have a Love-style running gallop at ‘Her Sadness Primer’ and have forceful singer riding over pumping bass and thin organ sound, what a lost gem ! And that’s the real value of these compilations, you can discover tracks you know would have loved at the time. No matter how keen you may be on music, you will always miss out on some great creations – if your collection includes Blues Magoos, Savage Resurrection, Sagittarius, Moody Blues and Zombies, you are almost bound to find something to love on this set.
The Sound Solution have a singer who would have given Blood Sweat and Tears and Chicago Transit Authority a run for their money, for sure, on the baroque ‘I Had the Notion’ included here ; every now and again bands like Left Banke and Association come to mind as these often short-lived and obscure combo’s do their thing. Some but by no means all the participants may have ended up in commercially successful outfits in later years but at this point and wearing their influences on their paisley sleeves, it’s hard to resist the charm of these creations, timeslip album artwork and all. I sure wish more contemporary groups could sing harmony as well as The Byzantine Empire..and here over a waltz tempo, to boot !
Pete Sargeant www.fairhearing.co.uk