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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Let's Go Down and Blow Our Minds: The British Psychedelic Sounds of 1967

Next year, will mark the 50th anniversary between the Summer of Love, the year music was changing. The year The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Pink Floyd’s overlooked debut, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, and Procol Harum releasing their sole self-titled debut and their groundbreaking single, A Whiter Shade of Pale. But it was more than just those amazing albums and the Summer of Love. That and this amazing 3-CD set done by the great people by Grapefruit Records which is a part of the Cherry Red family.

It’s called, Let’s Go Down and Blow Our Minds: The British Psychedelic Sounds of 1967. It’s released in a clamshell box set done with a 41-page booklet about the history of the time period and focusing on the obscure, pop, novelty, unearthed nuggets, and histories about the bands/artists behind the music done by David Wells. This was like looking through the outside door of the closet and magic flowing out with brilliancy of the music that was ahead of its time. Along with some amazing highlights on here.

The title of Let’s Go Down and Blow Our Minds, comes from the song, Toyland which opens the set done by The Alan Bown. It’s a very whimsical, acoustical, flute, and symphonic of going through the dreamscape of a wonderland filled with Toys to be a kid all over again. The big ones are on here including The Crazy World of Arthur Brown’s Give Him a Flower, Procol Harum’s Kaliedoscope, the proto glam-garage rock crunch of The Move’s Vote For Me, and the eerie scenario of Defecting Grey by The Pretty Things.

Elsewhere there’s the Denny Laine-era of The Moody Blues which he would embark on his career with Paul McCartney & Wings as he last appeared with the band on the soul/R&B touch, Life’s Not Life. We delve into the underground scene from The Purple Gang’s psych ragtime with a humoristic approach named after the shop called, Granny Takes a Trip, the homage to the Syd Barrett-era of Pink Floyd, Traffic and The Who’s Silas Stingy is evidential on The Riot Squad which features the late David Bowie on Toy Soldier.

Not to mention John Children featuring Marc Bolan of T. Rex delving more into Garage-Psych Rock flavor on Desdemona, The Doves essence of a romantic Smokeytime Springtime, Rupert’s People’s mournful with a soul/psych organ beauty for the Reflections of Charles Brown, Dantalian’s Chariot’s running through the speed of light of the insane asylum on The Madman Running Through the Fields, The Artwoods’ galloping drums, haunting organ and story of Into the Deep End, and The Flower Pot Men channeling the essence of Sagittarius meets The Beach Boys Pet Sounds-era of A Walk in the Sky.

Then there’s the obscurity hidden treasures. There’s the homage to the Jeff Beck-era of The Yardbirds with Pink, Purple, Yellow and Red by The Sorrows, Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera usage of proto-psych punk of the Bass ready to drive into the sunrise for the fires to go up in Flames, Sweet Feeling’s lyrical essence of The Kinks comes to mind for a marching beat for All So Long Ago, Skip Bifferty’s Schizoid Revolution which was about Lindisfarne’s Alan Hull who worked as a nurse in a psychiatric hospital, and Richmond group, Sands paying homage to Gustav Holst’s Mars from the Planets suite played with a distorted feedback guitar along with the sound an air raid siren.

It is one of the most twists and turns that goes from psychedelic pop into nightmarish terror, and closes out the compilation. Funnily enough, Brian Epstein who was the Beatles manager, signed the band to his NEMS management company which was released on Stigwood’s Reaction label along with the flip side of their cover of the Bee Gees Mrs. Gillespie’s Refrigerator. Unfortunately the single disappeared after Brian’s death in that same year.

The 3-CD set is a wonderful discovery of listening to these unearthed, familiar, and overlooked gems of 1967. Grapefruit Records have done it again and I hope they will continue to do more to search for more unearthed recordings from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. If you love the psychedelic era along with Lenny Kaye’s Nuggets compilation, then this is the one you need Santa to write and ask him to put on your Christmas wish list.

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