Graham Reid | | 3 min read
Lenny Kaye's Nuggets collection didn't just inspire musicians but also sequels and, of course, record company entrepreneurs . . . like Massimo del Pozzo in Italy.
Bari-born del Pozzo was the mainman in the long-running garageband The Others (and other bands like the Tyme Society) as well as running his own Misty Lane Records which published books and had its own store in Rome.
It was wearing his label boss hat that he compiled this collection subtitled "18 US Popsyche Gems from the '60s" which has come to hand when it was pulled off the shelves at random for consideration in this on-going column.
It would be a fair observation that few outside of the US would have heard of any of these bands which on a close listen err more towards that pop end of the spectrum that far-out-man psychedelic music.
The fact that there are 18 songs in about 40 minutes tells you that there are no lengthy Grateful Dead or Jimi Hendrix solos here.
In fact the Cowsills and Monkees more often come to mind in the songs by Boston's Puff (Looking in my Window with a touch of phasing), Florida folk-rockers Proctor Amusement Co. (Heard You Went Away with Beach Boys' ba-ba-bapa-ba parts) and Texas' Fountain of Youth (the excellent pop of Day Don't Come).
The album starts promisingly with Wild in the Streets by Jerry Howard from the '68 rebel-youth film of the same name and closing with a bonus track (unnamed on the cover, it is the genuinely tripped out Shelley in Camp by Gurus from Wild in the Streets when Shelley Winters is on acid).
So let's set aside notions of psychedelia as we usually understand it think more along the lines of slightly roughed-up garageband pop spun off from Dino, Desi and Billy, the Partridge Family, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, the Grass Roots, the Five Americans . . .
Usually on such albums names appear who later went on to huge things but in that regard this first installment on del Pozzo's Misty Lane is disappointing: the young Randy Newman co-wrote Sunshine Trolley's gloriously orchestrated Cover Me Baby (also apparently from a film of the same name); Eternity's Children, here with Flowers, were briefly Charlie Rich's backing band in New Orleans and their single Mrs Bluebird was produced by Curt Boettcher and Keith Olsen of genius cult band Millennium; the New Yorkers (out of Portland, Oregon) included the Bill, Brett and Mark Hudson brothers who much later signed to Elton John's Rocket label . . .
But that's about it.
This being the late Sixties (everything looks to be from 1967 – 68) what we mostly hear are decent and often seasoned singers who'd worked their way from pre-Beatles pop into this post-Pet Sounds world so strong voices (almost exclusively male) get harmony backing, pulsing Good Vibrations-influenced bass and keys, orchestration and nothing by way of sitar, guitar or keyboard solos, risqué lyrics or references to drugs.
Oh, maybe just heavily disguised allusions to the latter (Sidewalker Skipper Band's Cynthia at Her Garden) and hints of sleep-with-me on Eternity Children's You Know I'll Find A Way.
Some great pop here though: Higher Elevations' Here Comes Sunshine driven by throbbing bass with slightlydelic organ; Deep Six are damn dramatic on Rising Sun (Peter Paul and Mary on something stronger than weed); It Wasn't Real by Seattle's Bumps . . .
Sidewalk Skipper Band approach proper psychedelic music with Strawberry Tuesday where the guitar nudges towards Indian music.
Massimo del Pozzo should be thanked however for keeping these songs in the world to give us context for the more well-known psychedelic music.
He also released the albums Bring Flowers to the World )”transworld popsyche”), Leaving It All Behind (“folk punk and moody garage ballads '65-'68”), Every Groovy Day (“catchy obscure US garage pop '65-'68”) and Basementsville USA (“garage punk and frat '65-'68”).
Yes, setting aside the slightly mislead product description and SanFran '67 poster lettering on the cover, this is a fine collection of slightly innocents, well crafted and cleanly produced pop music.
Very pleased this came to hand at random.
Unfortunately this album doesn't appear to be available on any digital platforms but copies are certainly out there.
Elsewhere occasionally revisits albums -- classics sometimes, but more often oddities or overlooked albums by major artists -- and you can find a number of them starting here