Thursday, 21 January 2016

Various Artists – Golden State Psychedelia 1966-69 [2015], album review

Golden Groovy

You could have thought the Nuggets and other label collections/compilations would have exhausted the discovery of further late 60s gems, but this trawl from the Golden State Recorders label proves otherwise. It is either frightening to think about how much good music is still out there unknown and unheard [and also in the sense that those bands and artists missed their moment and all the potential that went with this] or it is exciting to think such unearthings can and will continue.

Or you could think it doesn’t merit the finding, but I would disagree.

I’m not saying there are startling revelations on this album, but there is certainly material good enough to be better than much else. If you like the period, obviously. And it is great fun at times in its exuberant sense of discovering the boundless trajectory music could, and did, take at this time.

I’ll just mention a few of the 25 presented on this album: opener The Goody Box Blow Up is a superb garage pop burst, with organ beeps and church chords with fuzz guitar and a short drum solo; The Carnival Meditorium is vocal rich in harmonies and musical shifts, brilliant drumming and bass; The Tow-Away Zone Shab’d is Airplane-esque jangled guitar and vocals as well, suitably psyched; The Bristol Boxkite Sunless Night coming in after these first three introduces a slower folk element with sweet harmonies; next The Immediate Family Rubaiyat continues that folky lean with more Airplane-esque sounds [hardly surprising that JA will be such a prominent touchstone] and this is a gorgeous song; a little later Celestial Hysteria Speed is the first psychedelic rock with a female vocal reminiscent of [yes, her] and the interplay of vocals and instruments is more manic; Magician Fuck For Peace is simply Far Out with lyrics including feeling groovy; The Seventh Dawn Don’t Worry Me with raw and earnest rather than great vocals; The Short Yellow Hand Full with its rampant female vocal – operatic at times –  and feminist assertions including a strident disregard for going to school, partly to rhyme with the breaking of a rule, but this too is deeply earnest and cool,

and it continues, at times easy to mock for its being passé, therefore I need to stop before I do so at the expense of the wonderfully dated garage and psyche authenticity. This is an immensely enjoyable album, mixing familiar nostalgia with just enough sense of the new.

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