Graham Reid | | 2 min read
By curious coincidence (nope, not ironic just chance) this collection of slightly garageband but lightlydelic US pop arrived the same day I learned Scott McKenzie -- of San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair) fame -- had died.
He was 73, which struck me as ridiculously old, but then again that makes sense when you do the maths: 1967 when that was a big soundtrack to the hippie era was . . . jeez near on 45 years ago so if he had been, like, 25 then . . .
Long time gone that era.
And most of the hippie-trippy-drippy stuff (like his benign hit, written by John Phillips of The Mamas and The Papas incidentally, who got the Monterey Pop Festival together before he became an embarrassing human being) hasn't aged well.
But as we have noted about the excellent All Kinds of Highs collection, that period when garageband pop and psychedelic pop crossed over (in stoner three minute singles like early Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, 13th Floor Elevators, the Blues Magoos et al) did toss out more than the ocassional gem.
This collection comes from the same source -- little known/unknown bands who recorded for the Mainstream label -- but this has a much darker feel to it. Fewer flowers and songs about "my mind" and more about love betrayed or lost, gloomy days and general weirdness. When the Word weigh in with the gloomy It's Over about halfway through the collection you kind of felt its cold breeze coming.
You'd been warned by the disturbingly melodic suicide song No Me Tomorrow by Euphoria, the a-side of which was the just plain nuts, extraordinary and uncategorisable Hungry Women: "I seen you look about for someone to get you out, the cops carried me down the stairs . . . you look like you need someone to hold you down and have some fun . . . they want you to be evil because it's fun . . .I don't mind, waiting in line . . ."
All this to strident drumming, guitar chords borrowed from Paul Revere and the like, then some tripped out Indo-style vocals, odd time changes . . .
Would you let your sister marry a Euphoria?
There's a fair chunk of stuff which leans towards garageband rock (as with the previous collection among these 26 tracks are songs which could have been album tracks for the Sonics, the Rolling Stones, New Zealand's La De Das (I Think I'm Down by Harbinger Complex, the exceptionally earthy Slave of Desire by the New Dawn who ooze sex and lust; the Ban with the gutsy Thinking of Your Fate).
Every now and again a band comes along which aims for the benign end of the Grass Roots/Lovin' Spoonful spectrum: The Wildflower with the stoned pop of Coffee Cup ("seen through the mirror of my soul" etc) and Harbinger Complex again who just want to get married on the country-flavoured My Dear and Kind Sir; and I'm Lonely by the Montells.
Among the many songs here are some dark diamonds (Euphoria deserved a career, the Unusuals weren't that far from Jefferson Airplane) and even when it isn't the best -- the Ban with Bye Bye who deliver garageband organ driven pop-rock which only lacks originality -- at least its still sort of period-piece fun and over in under three minutes.
But Euphoria? Wow and hmmm.