Various Artists: Psychedelic Gems 5 (Garden of Delights) Cyberhome: http://aural-innovations.com/god/main.html More info: Contact Keith Henderson at firstname.lastname@example.org Apparently, Garden of Delights, who specialize in releasing lost 60's and 70's German psych/prog classics, have built up a considerable collection of bands who recorded a two or three song demo and disappeared. Since some of these obscurities are quite worthy of CD treatment, the label's created the Psychedelic Gems to showcase some great bands who never secured a record contract. The fifth installment of this series showcases 7 bands' recordings, ranging in date from 1966 to 1976. And, I might add, some of the bands are superior to contemporaries with full-length releases (who've also been reissued by GoD).A breakdown of the bands: The Desperates - Their first song, "LSD" achieves a masterly blend of Amon Duul II drugged-out eastern music and rough Damo Suzuki-like vocals, made all the more remarkable by the recording's 1966 date (reading the liner notes, it turns out that this is actually a Pretty Things song, which I haven't heard and can't compare it). Regardless, it's a great recording of a great song. The fun cover of Otis Redding's "Stupidity" is a nice addition, although it doesn't really sound like the same band (but does seem a more likely candidate for the 66 date). Tortilla Flat - Another fascinating band, reminding me a bit of Yezda Urfa (minus the Gentle Giant influences) though coming almost a decade prior. Prominent organ playing and jittery, energetic percussion. The first song, "Facts" seems to be marred slightly by strange scurrying noises (?) but is an insanely memorable song. "Life," also an excellent song, seems reminiscent of "Incense and Peppermints" by Starwberry Alarm Clock, but the frantic drumming, busy bass line, and complex organization makes it a much more interesting song. Just We - "Somethin' Like It" starts with a funky drumbeat (well, as funky as German teens get) and continues with pseudo-bluesy noodling until the main riff kicks in along with the vocals. "Dallas Woman Blues" is a rather ordinary 12-bar blues. Although the band plays well and their singer actually has a decent voice for the style, it sounds like German guys trying to sound like authentic bluesmen (unlike The Desperates, who's brand of R&B seems far more tongue-in-cheek). The Giants - "He-he-ho" sounds like a 60's blues-rock song broken up by strange breaks where the guitar makes strange noises with lots of flanger and panning. Strangely produced, most likely by the guitarist (guitar is significantly louder than all the other instruments, even vocals, and seems to be panned hard left while everything else is hard right). The Giants apparently were able to pry their guitarist away from the mixing console for the much better sounding, written, and played "Broken Earth," a largely organ-dominated piece with a more interesting complex structure. A pusling organ/percussion ostinato serves as a launching pad for the effectively hoarse vocals. In another strange touch, during part of an instrumental section, the volume of the entire mix fluctuates up and down. Still, an interesting song. Chain - At this point, I'm noticing that the quality of German rock groups seems to be declining as the seventies move on (not surprising, since the Krautrock movement had established uniquely German sounds and bands no longer needed to copy American and British groups). Fairly standard blues-tinged rock, Chain are probably the most amusing band on this compilation due to their vocalist's incredibly thick German accent. B.S.H. - The only band represented by just one track, "Short Stop," B.S.H. sound suspiciously like Just We at first (even using virtually the same "funky" beat to start the song), but mercifully, they take their music in a more interesting, Gong-like direction. Driven mainly by a propulsive guitar/bass unison and driving drums, B.S.H. construct a manic groove which then is embellished by various guitar riffs and broken unexpectedly by a triplet figure every now and then. However, I think the track would be more trance-inducing if it were extended a little. Tibet - Another unique offering, although not exactly the best of the CD. The first song, "Only Man's Love" sounds like a strange cross between popular progressive rock and disco. Amazingly terrible rock'n'roll lyrics written, according to the liner notes, by the English teacher of one of the band's roadies(!). Also, these two songs feature female vocals, courtesy of a runaway girl who somehow wound up in the studio the day the band recorded (heck, these liner notes are worth the price of the CD alone!), though they are actually quite decent. The second track reminds me of Goblin's funk breaks mixed with Yes with dashes of mid-sixties pop-rock. A few of these bands got robbed. Others probably deserve no more than a brief appearance on a CD such as this. Either way, a unique compilation if nothing else. - Adam Murphree
Various Artists: Psychedelic Underground 4 (CD, 60:00) CD 040 Garden of Delights Mistral, Hoefijzerlaan 63 B-8000 Brugge GERMANY Cyberconnection: http://www.forcedexposure.com/labels/garden.of.delights.germany.html
Whip out that bong you made in shop class, buy a pack of E-Z Wide's, and get ready for a journey to the 70's with the latest hippie-rock compilation from the German publisher Garden of Delights(GoD) called Psychedelic Underground 4. Featuring samples of the record company's back catalog, PU4 features some of what was good - and some of what was bad - about the trippy, blues-inspired psychedelia of days gone by. On one hand you've got some groovy, blues-inspired guitar work, and on the other hand you've got overly-long instrumental jams that get very tedious, very quickly. Pretty much what you'd expect from a publishing company whose logo is a pot leaf - not that there's anything WRONG with that. The compilation kicks off on the wrong foot with a 12-minute endurance test from The Royal Servants called "Latin Underground". The vocal section is standard flower-child fare - I could almost envision bell-bottom clad, acid-tripping, 20-somethings swaying back and forth to the song. However, the track falls apart as the band hops into a seemingly endless instrumental break that features guitars, flutes, mallet percussion, horns, and the occasional screams from the lead singer. Frankly, I lost interest about 30 seconds into the jam, and I would guess that most non-drug-affected folks would get bored as well. The other long song on the disc, Prom's "Mogadischu," suffers the same fate becoming mired in endless instrumental noodling and 70's musical clichés. However, Psychedelic Underground 4 rights itself somewhat with a couple of seriously tasty trip-fusion grooves that'll most definitely cure what ails you. The first comes from mid-seventies, experimental-rockers Agitation Free with its almost modern-sounding (and very well produced) instrumental titled "Deliverance." While lacking in the "Ned Beatty" department, this tune mixes in Latin-inspired percussion with its jazzy rhythm section to provide a very smooth background for the excellent Zappa-esque lead guitar antics of Lutz Ulbrich, culminating in a very interesting and timeless track that should please guitar-fusion lovers everywhere. The other standout track is Eiliff's "Journey to the 'Ego'," a track that starts off with some very mellow and trance-like keyboard work but ends up in a odd-time-sig, Crimson-type jam that features some great Rickenbacker bass work and excellent drumming and guitar work as well. These two tracks stand head and shoulders above the rest of the CD, and are recommended to anyone who likes their rock and roll on the more adventurous side. Unfortunately, other than those two tracks, the rest of the CD suffers from some very non-adventurous and poorly produced music from a roster of obscure German rock bands. Most of the songs are filled with subpar hippie stereotypes such as flute runs and Mitch Mitchell copycat drumming, and are not likely to hold the interest of sober folks for very long. Despite some promising moments, Psychedelic Underground 4 reminded me more of the musical excesses of the decade rather than the sonic heights that were present during the 70's. - Michael Askounes (email@example.com) TRACKLIST: 1. ROYAL SERVANTS - Latin Underground (12:40) 2. AGITATION FREE - Deliverance (4:22) 3. SILOAH - A Landlady's Dessert (0:50) 4. PENTAGON - A Sad Song (5:13) 5. GILA - Viva Arabica (5:24) 6. EILIFF - Journey to the "Ego" (7:45) 7. EULENSPYGEL - Till (3:45) 8. PROM - Mogadischu (11:20) 9. ARKTIS - Picture (7:52)
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