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Alice In Wonderland
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Alice In Wonderland & Other Rainy Day Girls.The Great Lost Southern Popsike Trip. Tennessee might not be the first place on the map which springs to mind when embarking on a magical mystery tour of the 1960s psychedelic scene, much less Nashville, with its long-established folk and country traditions. And yet, as this trip into the obscure backwaters of Southern popsike, blues-infused garage and bubblegum soul reveals, Music City wasn't all Nudie suits and steel guitars, no siree. By delving into the further recesses of the Sun and SSS Int'l catalogues and casting its net as far south as Florida, this carefully compiled 2CD uncovers forgotten forays into the realms of fuzz-laden garage rock, lilting Baroque pop and saccharine psychedelia along with those whose wig-out weirdness defies easy categorisation. Dig stinging sitars and Farfisa-fuelled fun? Then hop aboard! Drawn from the Sun, SSS International, Amazon, Minaret, Honor Brigade labels and featuring sought-after cuts by The Rugbys, Strange Bedfellows, The Germs, H.Y. Sledge, The Tiffany System, Lord August, The Geers and The Berkeley Kites, this is a must-do musical excursion along the highways and byways of The Great Lost Southern Popsike Trip. 40 original US recordings 1965-71 from the vaults of Sun & SSS Int'l Includes rare & previously unreleased recordings plus others new to CD Deluxe digibook package includes a fully-annotated 24pp photo-laden booklet
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I quite like this cd, a lot of the songs i have never heard before. The quality of the songs is high and sound quality is also very high. To call the cd a popsike trip is a little misleading, it is more akin to the looking back series. Theres a little of everything here some good sixties rock, garage,RnB,psych and popsike. It is also nice because it gives a good example of the differences between the british and american bands at the time,straight away you will know this is a compilation of American genres. If you like a broad range of American sixties music,I don't think you will go wrong purchasing this compilation unless you are seeking more pop than rock.
When looking for old psych, I begin at the baseline -- songs like Tomorrow Never Knows, Strawberry Fields Forever, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, I Am The Walrus, Hurdy Gurdy Man, Wear Your Love Like Heaven, Happenings Ten Years Time Ago, 2000,Light Years From Home, I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night, Are You Experienced, etc. If an artist can remotely come close to any of these, and it stands up to repeated listening, that's good psych to me. Psych bands wanted to sound like those songs -- some of them actually made dents and some even created new sounds. Anyway, that's what I look for, and nothing in this set is psych to me.
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For once, the cover graphics on this collection give a good idea of what's inside. With all the many "popsike" collections available, is there still rarely heard, worthwhile (that being the key word) tracks for fans (like me) of pop/psyche/garage music? The answer is yes. These 40 "lost" tracks will take you back to that whole era (if you were there to begin with), or will give you a good idea of the kind of music being recorded and released in the Southern portion of the U.S. during that whole weird period.
The sound overall is very good--clean with a slight warmth without any compression used to" heighten" the music's impact. The 24 page booklet contains information on the bands, the music, the era, plus band photos and other memorabilia. The discs snap inside the front and back covers of the hardback, "bill-fold" style packaging. All in all a very nice presentation of this music. I gave it four "stars" because I have a weakness for this type of music. Others may feel this is only worth three "stars". To each his own.
In a nutshell--listen to the title track "Alice In Wonderland", "Goddess Of Love", "Stompity Stomp (Slummer The Slum)", and "The Vacuum", on the first disc, and you'll have a good idea of the trip you're beginning to take. With so many collections of similar music, who knew that there were so many lesser/unknown Southern U.S. bands putting out all this great pop/psyche music? Much of this music is equal to more well known tracks by bands that appear on other collections. The arrangements are on the softer side, with some slightly harder garage band sounds here and there. Influences are many--virtually every track will remind you of other better known bands. But bands like The Berkeley Kites, The United Notions, Randy & The Rest, Half A World Away, The Rugbys, The Strange Bedfellows, The Sound Laboratory, The Jesters, and others all gave it their best shot. And with titles like "Rainy Day Girls", "I'm A Teardrop", "The Light", "Twenty-First Century Girl", "Finding It", "Hang-Up City", and "Let Me Be Me", among many others, this is a real trip back to another era.
Neil Young fans need to hear The Gentry's version of "Cinnamon Girl" released before (with both garage fuzz and acoustic guitars) the well known version by Young and Crazy Horse. The vast majority of bands and musicians will be unknown to most fans--one exception being The Tiffany System--with future Allman Bros. Band drummer Butch Trucks, bass player David Brown, and Scott Boyer who went on to play in Cowboy, a great band who released several albums on the Capricorn label. Why the Cowboy albums haven't been reissued is a real mystery. But this music isn't a mere copy of well known band's sounds. Much of this stuff floats out there on it's own thank you. And listen to The Jerms' version of that late 60's AM radio hit "Green Door", sounding like someone kicked The Archies in the butt and taught them how to play instruments.
Why didn't any of this music make more of an impact? Who knows. But with this strong collection from a region not widely known for this type of sound, more fans should "take the trip" heard here, and add this great set to their late 60's pop/psyche collections. While closer to pure pop/psyche, this set is a good match for the recently released (and hard to find) "Love, Poetry And Revolution--A Journey Through The British Psychedelic and Underground Scenes 1966 To 1972" collection. Fans of this music--miss this--and it's your loss. Me, I'm going to look in the back of my closet for my Nehru jacket, bell bottoms, and tambourine. Groovy man!
As Stuart noted in his review, it's puzzling why so many of these groups were not better known. Chock it up to the usual small labels with budget woes and marketing and distribution problems, plus many of these acts only released a single or two before breaking up. Well-known or not, the fact remains that the overall quality of these songs is very high. Any fan of '60s garage rock and sunshine pop will find a lot to like on here. Indeed, there are several songs on here that rank with the very best of this era, worthy of inclusion on a "Nuggets" collection.
The Gentrys, a band from Memphis that had a previous hit in 1965 with "Keep On Dancing," have two tracks on here; an excellent cover of Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl" and "Goddess of Love", an enchanting song with some riffs borrowed from Santana's "Evil Ways." Another group with multiple offerings on this collection is the Jerms from Topeka, Kansas. Among their three songs is a sizzling cover "Green Door." The Jerms were also one of the rare mixed-race garage groups of this era. Other standout songs on here include the catchy title track by the Berkeley Kites, the wild "Wait Until Tomorrow" by the United Notions, and "Wild and Free" by the Strange Bedfellows (described as "C&W Psyche"). A couple of other acts with cool songs are notable for their members who gained fame with other bands. The Tiffany System included Butch Trucks (Allman Brothers) and Scott Boyer (Cowboy), and Lord August & the Vision of Light featured Augie Meyers from the Sir Douglas Quintet.
The 2-CD set comes housed in a sturdy hardcover gatefold case, one that includes a very informative 24-page booklet, packed with groovy vintage photos and reproductions of original single labels and album covers. A thoroughly enjoyable trip down the rabbit hole!