on 18 October 2005
An eclectic compilation of all 4 of their recordings - Side Trips, A Beacon From Mars, Kaleidoscope, and Bernice, as well as a scattering of extra tracks (singles & bonuses). The music within this 3CD set will take you from 1920's Vaudeville, through country (which country?), folk (national boundaries thrown aside), rock, pop, and full-on, chemically-induced psychedelia, in varying quantities, and done with love, fun, and (occasionally eerie) atmosphere - there's sure to be something here for most people with ears.
Side Trips: 'Egyptian Gardens', a happy hic-tune with an Eastern slant, though tongue-in-cheek somewhat. 'If The Night' is a short number, and reminds me vocally of the Doors' Jim Morrison. It is followed by the superbly laid-back tune 'Hesitation Blues' - as though it comes straight from the Bayou of Louisiana! The next is a begging tune of pure beauty in the form of 'Please' - a ballad with a slightly country feel to it, with a mellow slant, born in 1966 (prior to 'Side Trips' which entered the musical album arena in 1967). 'Keep your Mind Open' is one of my personal favourites. It is mildly trippy, and of the age, with faint sounds of gunfire in the hinterland... or could it be crashing waves? The vocals are treated to slight echo effect, with the repeated refrain "keep your mind open" on and off throughout. 'Pulsating Dream' is a short track, and though of the era, not especially one of the stronger links here. 'Oh Death' is a slow, deep-voiced lament-chant with a country-folk feel to it. 'Come On In' is a wonderfully Vaudevillian tune, with happy hic piano and accompaniment. The next track kicks off with a (middle-) Eastern feel, descending into a seemingly negative lament with 'Why try... forget it all' as the repeated refrain - quite uplifting really, in a funny sort of way! 'Minnie The Moocher' is an animated kind of 1920's number - so take a time-trip to then! Here ends Side Trips.
Extra to the album set: 'Elevator Man' is the weakest tune on CD1, though ok. 'Little orphan Annie' is perhaps one of the better known tunes here, with lovely fiddle, strange lyrics, with a fun ditty to round it off ("We are the joy boys of radio, hello hello... up in the air the junior birdmen...").
Next, 'A Beacon From Mars': 'I Found Out' is a soaring tune - splendid! Then 'Greenwood Sidee' brings us once more to times of yore, as a slow-marching traditional tune with a Celtic feel - very hearty fare. 'Life Will Pass You By' is a poppy country-folk tune, and is ok, though not strong, when compared to the other tunes here. 'Taxim' (no overdubs - this is 'live'! -unbelievable!): an epic mellow mind-journey into a Middle-Eastern land of whirling Dervishes, with instruments I can't even pronounce! Then, best attire, please, for 'Baldheaded End Of A Broom' where we retire to the friendly freshwater swamp, replete with harmonica, and a speeded up ending. This fine feel is magnified by the following, Cajun fiddle-full, 'Louisiana Man'. The heavy blues of 'You Don't Love Me' (a cover), doesn't seem to fit in here, though it is an alright track on its own. Perhaps it is the essentially contradictory nature of the style-mix that (almost) doesn't work; blues, and heavy/rock, hmmm. The amazing thing is, I guess, that these Kaleidoscope boys carry it off quite so well. 'Beacon From Mars' rounds off that album nicely.
Extra to the album set: 'Rampe Rampe' (superb) 'Nobody' (nice backdrop of sitar), 'Love Games' (nice, mildly trippy, effects), 'Egyptian candy' (the best added track here - superbly far-out, and quite sinister-sounding), 'Hello Trouble', which is California Country music (according to the sleeve notes), and 'Just a taste' - crud lyrics, but quite a good sound.
The Incredible Kaleidoscope 1969: 'Lie To Me' - brings many tunes stylistically together, with upbeat fiddles reminiscent of more Country-like tracks, and full of backwards playing guitars. 'Let The Good Love Flow', and 'Killing Floor (AKA Tempe Arizona)' (nice harmonica), signal nothing much here. 'Petit Fleur' - similar in vein to 'Louisiana Man', and Cajun to the hilt! Marvellous. 'Banjo' - David Lindley shows off his expertise - to mind-blowing effect! 'Cuckoo' - in a similar dark vein to 'Greenwood Sidee' & 'Oh Death', and absolutely superb; perhaps my favourite Kaleidoscope track! 'Seven Ate Sweet', at 11.37 minutes, is a rambling, rolling, trans-genre journey through instrumental dreamland, fusing Eastern (song & sound) & Western (all the rest) - rounds off The Incredible Kaleidoscope, whoa!
Extra to the album set: 'Sefan' - instrumental - good, but pales in comparison to their earlier work.
The 'Bernice' album: now this is where it all began to unravel. 'Chocolate Whale' - funky gospel & 'Another Lover' - funky - nice. 'Sneaking through The Ghetto' - plain rock, satire country, ok. 'To Know Is Not To Be' - softer. 'Lulu Arfin Nanny' - slightly out there (in the sky, though not orbital); a take on an earlier version of the same song (kind of). 'Lie & Hide' - trippy with a wonderful middle-section of spoken hippy advice - excellent to sample (best track on their 4th album by far). 'Ballad of Tommy Udo' - apparently a result of Lindley's love of a film (kiss of death) - and a reasonable tune too (though probably not too commercial, given that this was supposed to be an album of singles). 'Bernice' - superb harmonica playing - watch out though, if you suffer from tinnitus. It's a bit funky, with nice bass. 'Soft & Easy' - a non-starter. 'Blue Ooze' - nearly didn't make it onto the album. Shame. Its ok - but nowhere near as god as earlier stuff!
'Why Try' - a single added at the end, why?
Pure psychedelic fans may also wish to try the following: Country Joe & The Fish, Twink, Cyrus Faryar/Cosmic Sounds (Zodiac), Can (unsettling Cannibalism album), The Incredible String Band, Hawkwind, etc.