This blog is an extension of the Psych Trail Mix fanzine that had a run of 10 printed issues from Winter 2008 through Spring 2016. The Psych Trail Mix archive of full, free PDF files of the printed zine will continue to be hosted at this link. Print copies remain of  issue #10 only, see the main PTM page to purchase copies.


01-19-2024 - Flying Through The Ether: Z Sylver On Her Life & Times With Helios Creed
Most of you reading this blog know by now how much Chrome & Helios Creed are a big part of my musical muse. I mean the ROOT of this website is HELIOS CREED TRIBUTE SITE! Helios Creed is a legendary psychedelic guitarist who created some of the most out-there, otherworldly, mind-blowing psychedelic acid-punk sounds EVER. Helios is a true original, he can NOT be imitated. CHROME are THE kings of tripped-out, alien music that also ROCKS hard - a feat that few of those in the genre could accomplish - getting REALLY weird but at the same time ROCKING HARD. Arguably, the best Chrome years were when Helios was in the band ('77 - '83), after he left it just didn't ROCK hard enough for me... That's not to say that what Damon Edge was doing wasn't interesting, but that fuzzed-out, mind-melting guitar of Helios Creed was one of the key elements to the true Chrome sound for me. Helios left Chrome and continued a solo career, putting out loads of great records, even up to present day. This post has been in-the-works for quite a a while, and I've wanted to pick this person's brain for many years. She was around during the hey-day of solo Helios Creed, the AMREP label days and beyond, hell... even BEFORE... We're talkin' well over a decade of recording albums and touring with the man. Responsible for many of the tripped-out synthesizer sounds and samples that created the signature other-worldly atmosphere of those early Helios Creed solo albums and live shows, I'm speaking of the great Z SYLVER! Z was cool enough to sit down and access her read-only-memory banks for an exclusive interview for Psych Trail Mix Blog, enjoy! 

What are your earliest memories of getting into music?
My mom was a blues singer and biker lady who played guitar, so I grew up around a lot of music. She told me I used to kick her belly from the inside in time to any music she was listening to, so before I was born. I guess my first concert was at the Albuquerque Civic Auditorium and it was Jefferson Airplane. I think I was, I don’t know… maybe 2? There was a lot of music, because I was born right in the middle of the psychedelic rock explosion of the 60’s-70’s. My mom was an original flower child, from the hippie movement, so a lot of amazing music. She played music all through my childhood. I even sang a couple times with her. She was always doing music or there was band practice, I grew up around a lot of music being made. She had a band called Highway 33, but it just stayed local.

How did you first meet and come into contact with Helios?
Oh, I was … [ laughter ] um, so I was a young punk on the streets, living in a squat around the corner from the On Broadway and Mabuhay Gardens in San Francisco. It was a pretty seedy scene and we would panhandle on the Broadway strip for drugs, burritos, and booze, just being a part of the punk scene. That was in 1984 or '85, I think? Punks were pouring in from the suburbs and we were all living together as a family in abandoned buildings, taking care of each other, making sure no one messed with anybody, looking freaky but actually providing an extremely safe community for each other. Um, it was a haven for free expression, music, and street art. The night I first met Helios, I was hanging out in what’s known as Piss Alley alongside the On
Broadway, a central hang out spot for the hardcore punk scene. I was cutting this girl’s hair into a Mohawk and everyone was hanging out drinking and such. She was straight out of the suburbs and had long hair down to her butt. As I was giving her a haircut, this guy came tumbling down the stairs and landed at my feet. He was like, “fuck that fucker, he won’t give me my equipment or my money, so I punched him in the face! That guy’s an asshole!” He was talking about the club owner, Dirk Dirksen, and we were like, “yeah, he is an asshole, he never lets us in the club!”(of course, we were under age punk kids, so no wonder he didn’t let us in) and H was like, “I’m fucking Helios Creed, what does he think?!” And I said, “Dude, you’re so awesome!” And then he was like, “Yeah, from Chrome,” and I said, “from Chrome?!” Because there was a record store next to the club called The Rock Shop and they had just played Chrome. I’d never heard them before, that was the first time, and when I heard them I said to Dave, the record store owner, “Oh, my God! It’s like the music I never knew that I knew, like music I had always been listening to but never heard before," and Dave who turned me onto Chrome was like, “yeah, he’s coming here and Chrome’s pretty intense,” and it was the next night or so that he was there. When he came down the stairs, I thought… ”Man, he’s so wasted and fucking hilarious!” We wouldn’t run into each other again until years later. By then, our punk roots were in the rear view mirror, and we were headlong into psychedelics and space rock. We got together later, in 1988. Helios lived in a school bus and parked along the panhandle in San Francisco. He used to come buy weed from my roommates and that’s how we met for the second time. After hanging out together at some of his shows and around Haight street, I ended up moving into the bus with him. I was pretty smitten back then. The bus was built up like a schooner inside. It had a full galley-style kitchen, a master bedroom with swinging saloon doors, and a table that could also fold out into a guest bed. The bus was fully equipped! You could even hook up a shower in the doorway. We also had a TV/VCR combo for watching movies and of course the biggest boom box we could find. [ laughter ] In 1989, Sub Pop asked H to come up and make a record in Seattle and the band didn’t want to go, so me and H went up in the bus and lived in Seattle at a place called Gasworks Park. That’s when he recorded the album "The Last Laugh," which I’m not on, but I helped with lyrics and all kinds of stuff. There’s a single for "The Last Laugh" with my laughter on it. H is driving the bus in this photo(showing photo). I look so young in the photo! I wish I had more pictures from inside the bus. We stopped at a rest stop when the photo was taken. Yeah, I loved that moment. He liked to tell me stories, [ laughter ], I liked to listen. That’s the bus we lived in. It was painted the colors of the Sante Fe Super Chief train engine. H loved trains, still does. I’d call it an obsession. Our friend David Larew was with us, he was taking photos. We took David Larew to San Francisco with us, we wanted to get out of Seattle. There wasn't a great scene for anything but grunge up there at the time and we all missed SF.

How did you come to being invited to join him onstage playing synthesizer and how long had you been playing synth prior to joining him?
When I was in high school I played around with the bass a bit, but I never really had a chance to get good at it, and then I got into keyboards and synthesizers and I really loved them, but I didn’t have one, and I was too wild to ever sit in one place long enough to practice and learn my instruments. I just listened to a lot of music in the 70’s and 80’s. I’ve always been very into music and the people who make it.

When I separated from my first husband Jill St. Jacques, he had a sequential circuit keyboard, a Prophet 5, and when we broke up, he gave it to me. And then when Helios would go out on tour, he needed a keyboard player, and I had just the right keyboard for the job. So I guess that’s really synchronistic! So, I started playing live and just whatever he wanted me to play that was
already recorded, and then slowly I developed into my own player and writer.
H did all the keyboards before I came in. So, I was playing his parts for "The Last Laugh" and any records prior to that. "Lactating Purple" was the first record that I was on where I really began to write my own keyboard parts. By the time we got to "Kiss to the Brain," I was writing, creating samples and using effects all over the place. Did I mention vocals and lyrics? Yeah, I did those too!

What was your equipment lineup/your setup when playing with Helios?
In the beginning, I played the Prophet 5, but it wasn’t very roadworthy, so I bought an Ensoniq rackmount sampler and sampled the Prophet to play, as well as many other synths and samples that I made. Later on, I bought a Korg Prophecy and you hear a lot of that on later records like "Nugg The Transport." I also ran my keyboards through effects; a Morley pedal for distortion, along with another distortion (Digitech) and delay. I would control some of H’s vocal effects from my rack setup, and I also played lead and rhythm samples of his guitar sounds just to really confuse our audience and add dimension to the sound.

Lactating Purple would be the first record you were on with Helios, can you recall your memories of those recording sessions?
Honestly, we were so high when making that record that I barely remember anything, except that it was awesome! That was my first time playing with Paul Della Pelle (drums), and Paul Kirk was on bass. We parked the bus outside the studio, Razor’s Edge, so we didn't have far to go to get to the studio. I left a candle burning in the bus and when we came out to it, there was a padlock on the door and a note for us to go to the cop shop. The cops had broken into the bus, put out the candle and padlocked it! H busted out one of the door panels and we slid in and drove away to park somewhere else. Bwahahaha!! I do remember the beautiful sounds that were created over those few nights and writing my first keyboard part with Paul Della Pelle and naming the song, "Amenti." They were crazy, good times! We recorded "Kiss To The Brain" at Hyde Street Studios, "Lactating Purple" at Razor's Edge, and most of the records that came after that we recorded in our home studios, one in Hawaii, and one in Northern California. For "Kiss To The Brain," [I have to check the facts but] I believe that we used the same mixing board that was used for Pink Floyd’s "Dark Side of the Moon". There were a lot of psychedelics in the studio for "Kiss To The Brain," per the title. The line up was Paul Kirk on bass and Delle Pelle on drums and it’s a masterpiece. I love that album so much! Krystl Chamber, one of our best friends, she’s also doing vocals with me on that album, so that is special. I think we spent about 72 hours probably, and it’s cool when you go in the studio, you all go in and you lay everything down together, but then, for the next couple days, it was just me and H. Mixing, producing, saying ‘I think this should go there,' laying a couple extra tracks here and there on things, stretching and splicing tape, so we would finish them out. After that, with "Kiss To The Brain," we were really trying to create this ‘ancient - modern’ sound, so I did a lot of pipe organ stuff, but also having it sound futuristic too. The next album was "Planet X" and a new badass bass player, Chris McKay. Some of my fondest memories in life will always be hanging out with Paul and Chris on tour. I love those guys! There’s always been a huge alien theme running through our music all the way from Chrome on. But Planet X was more of a direct focus. Planet X is a planet, they call it Nibiru. And supposedly the sun is blocking it, because the sun’s so bright we can’t see it. It’s debatable whether it’s real or not. So, yeah, a lot of alien stuff.

Do you have a favorite Helios Creed record that you played on?
I think "Planet X" is my favorite, and then "Kiss To The Brain," and then "Cosmic Assault," I also really love "Colors Of Light" - it’s hard because I love them all so much. "Cosmic Assault" was titled because we always try to pull in celestial events to our music, and it was made during the time when the Shoemaker Levy 9 comet was impacting into Jupiter. You could actually see where it hit. "Colors Of Light" is a reference to Timothy Leary going to prison for advocating the use of LSD and other psychedelics.

Delving a bit deeper into the last question, any specific songs you’re most fond of and why?
I’d say "Kurt Zombie" is one of my favorite songs and god I have so many, it’s so hard, it’s like they’re my children and I love them all so much and there are so, so many songs. So, I did like 13 albums, well I’m on 13 albums, they’re not all full albums. Some are just on compilations, but yeah, there are so many songs. I think "Plato’s Cave," "Anubis Warpus," "Kiss To The Brain," "XL-35," those are some of my favorites. And then also there are my favorites to play and my favorites to hear. I especially love playing "The Federation" and "World Infiltration III-The Dragon" live. Some songs might not be as exciting to listen to as they are to play live with the energy of a live audience. Playing live shows was just phenomenal, nothing beats it!

What was it like touring with Helios? Can you share some wild, funny, amusing road stories?
We really liked to visit interesting places on tour, and me and H would pick out things to see on the tour because you’re living on the road, you want to see cool stuff. We went to Meteor Crater, and Borrego State Park. We wrote "Anubis Warpus" out in that desert. We camped there overnight in this area that’s completely prehistoric looking and Paul Della Pelle, our drummer, had this cymbal that was just a big brass thing, and he got a beat with that, we did some shrooms and we found this cool wall that went up like this, not a full cave, but like this and then we had a fire, and we were just seeing the lights flicker, and we were just jamming out, so we wrote "Anubis Warpus" out there and that was really cool. One time me and H climbed Picacho Peak in Arizona. We climbed all the way to the top! We took some really great acid up there to give our latest album "Kiss To The Brain," the acid test. You know how everything used to be underwater in that desert. It’s an ancient sea bed. When you’re up there and you’re tripping, it looks like you’re at the bottom of the ocean. So, it was mind blowing, and it was so cool because there was an area where everybody goes, but there’s a little tiny peak and if you go this way, there’s nobody there, and we sat at the top and just tripped and we could just see all the little white and pink hat people way down there and you could just see for miles, it was so vast and you could just feel so ancient, you could feel time slowing down. That was really incredible. Touring with Helios Creed was an amazing experience! The fans were the coolest, weirdest people and they would travel for miles just to see us play. In Europe, our shows were a lot bigger because there’s a lot more weirder and cooler people there. So we played small clubs here, but in Europe we played large venues. When we toured Europe we were on another level, so that was so fun.

Can you tell the story of how you and Helios ended up as extras in the Willie Nelson/Kris Kristofferson movie "Pair Of Aces"? Were you guys living in Texas at that time?
We went out to hang out with the Butthole Surfers, but they were mostly gone once we got out there, always on tour. We moved there after we lived in Seattle. We drove our bus out there and rented a small ranch outside of Austin and there really wasn’t much going on there, so I was trying to find work, and I got work as an extra in the movie "Pair Of Aces" with Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. We were on the shoot all day, and they kept going in their bus to smoke out. Helios and I wanted to have a look in their fancy tour bus, but they kept shutting the curtains on us, so they could get stoned in private, haha! As an extra, I played a biker chick that was in the bar where Kristofferson came in to get information on a suspect. The film was a cop/grifter theme. H was just standing around because he had driven me to the shoot and the director saw him and said, “Hey dude, do you want to join the crowd of thugs? We’ll pay you to just stand in the back of the crowd and look thugly!” I don’t think H was very flattered, but the pay was great.
[ laughter ]

What have you been up to for the last 20 years or so?
I moved outside of Detroit, Michigan when my son was born and we’ve been living here for 18 years. I went to college to get both my child development degree and my art degree. I spent many years working as a special education para pro until I couldn’t hack it anymore and went back to school for art, specifically painting, which I have been doing most of my life off and on.

Check out the artwork below created by Z in 2023 (click thumbnails for full-size)! Also, read up on the meaning of Z's artwork, specifically the below three pieces in this PDF doc - The Trials Of Transfiguration

Also, please check out Z Sylver's website!

MASSIVE THANKS to Z Sylver for opening up and regaling us with tales of her days with Helios Creed!

Big thanks to Michelle Curry for transcribing the interview!

It'll be hard to top that interview here at the PTM Blog! I hope you enjoyed Z's history and stories as immensely as I did. Closing out this post with some album reviews as per usual... Until next time.. Happy trails....

Television - Marquee Moon (1977)
I was a bit of a late bloomer in turning on to this record, but recently delved into this gem....finally in my late 30's. Television came out of the NYC punk scene in the late 70's and here is their debut record, recorded in '76 in NYC and released in February of '77. They get slapped with the 'punk' label quite often, but this is a punk album where the band can actually play their instruments! They were leaps and bounds above many bands in the scene when it came to that. Apparently, Brian Eno produced some demos as early as '74, but Tom Verlaine wasn't satisfied with the "cold" sound of them, he wanted a BIGGER rock 'n roll GUITAR sound, like a Rolling Stones album, so they enlisted Andy Johns, who was a veteran who had produced the Stones, Zeppelin and more. Opens with the killer "See No Evil," with its jumpy, frenetic pace and delicious jangly guitar riffs, a standout for sure. "Venus" is one of my favorites, one of the more mellow tracks on here, apparently about ingesting some psychedelic drugs and walking the streets of downtown NYC, and the lyrics would support that; 'You know it's all like some new kind of drug, My senses are sharp and my hands are like gloves, Broadway looked so medieval..... Dig the mesmerizing, almost trance-inducing bright-tone guitar work on this one, it evokes a vibe that works so well with the theme of the song. "Friction" is a another standout, with its nervous, jumpy sort of pace and the jazz-like interplay of the guitars. One of the things that shines on this album is the fantastic guitar work and the guitar TONES, they really pierce through the speakers nicely as you crank this baby. The album title track "Marquee Moon" is of course a centerpiece here, a 10+ minute epic, building up more and more with fantastic guitar work until finally reaching an ectstacy crescendo of epic proportions! FYI - best sounding cd version is the original cd from Elektra, 1989 1098-2. Don't sleep on this one like I did! 

The Perth County Conspiracy - Kanada (1975)
Just when I thought I'd heard all the creme de la creme of PCC, a friend of mine hooked me up with a quality vinyl transfer of an original pressing of this album and the FINAL album of the PCC's discography. Released in 1975 also as 'Break Out To Berlin,' this was recorded at Amiga Studios in East Berlin representing Canada at the Fifth International Festival of Political Song In East Germany. The opener, “Old Ways/Hurray For The Farmer” is a great one that emits PCC vibes all-around. A song by Cedric Smith & poet Milton Acorn that tells of pining for the ‘old ways’ when the ‘neighbor lent a hand and you work close to the land.’ Also, praising the farmer as the ‘backbone of the country.’ This album still preaches the ‘back to the land’ ideals the band is known for and it was hitting all the right spots for me when I began to spin this. Like I said, I thought I heard the best, but I’ll go as far as saying this album is fantastic and stands with the band’s other works. “Does Not Exists” is the band’s true masterpiece and in a league of its own, but this is not one to sleep on. The musicianship is fantastic with some fiddle and fantastic piano work on several of the tracks. Richard Keelan’s “Heart of The Beast” is a standout track with a great groove to it, Keelan waxing poetic wisdom with the line ‘truth feeds the soul.’ Cedric Smith's “Memory Stains/Lining Up To Go” is a story of older times, harder times of days of the old, and this one comes with the delicate vocals of Dorit Cheyne accompanying Cedric’s theatrical/deep vocal style, a contrast that comes through quite nicely. “Live With Me On Earth” is a delight, again with the combination of Cedric and Dorit’s male/female vocals. I gaze outside at a snowstorm as I type this review, the fluffy white blanketing everything… This song is a fitting soundtrack to the view of the storm, especially those echoey vocals of Dorit there at the end… ahhhh hits the spot! “Military Spectatorship” puts the theatrical style of the band’s live show on display, I even get a little Incredible String Band vibe here…. This is a satirical take on the military, a quick, humorous little ditty… “The Pioneer Song” is another great one with Cedric and Dorit joining forces on vocals. Possibly my favorite cut on the whole record is the closer, Richard Keelan’s “Voice Of The Wilderness,” a song that speaks of heading out into the wilderness to right our course. This song features some beautiful piano and what sounds like most everyone joining Richard on vocals at times. Fantastic lead guitar/piano interplay as well. What a brilliant way to close not only the record but PCC's entire catalogue. The last several years I’ve found myself hitting trails and the woods and streams to sort of clear my head as life and this planet have been quite heavy for various reasons both personal and on a larger global scale, this song's message helps bring you back to base, a life-guiding message on what to do in these times… Whaddaya waitin’ for bub? Get-to steppin’ and get out on the trails and to the streams, end the doom-scrolling on your ‘smart’ phone and get back to the REAL… Oops… sorry I’ve gone off on a rant here… Anyway, DO NOT sleep on this one, I was pleasantly surprised when I heard this and added another PCC gem to my collection just in time to get me through this dark, cold winter.

*NOTE: there are two versions of this album, one released on Rumour entitled 'Break Out To Berlin,' and one on Amiga entitled 'Kanada,' which is the superior pressing and the transfer I've been blessed with for this review

Perth County Conspiracy - s/t (1971/2018)
This collection of songs was recorded in August of 1970 just mere weeks after PCC recorded their magnum opus "Does Not Exist" on Columbia Records. This was a recording done for CBC that was released in 1971 on a very limited (500 max) pressing. Be forewarned - this is way less elaborate/cohesive piece of conceptual art compared to "Does Not Exist". These are all stripped down songs, but they stand very well on their own. Apparently, they were a bit short on material and some tunes were even jammed-out and created on a lunch break! Luckily, given its very limited release, Richard Morton Jack's Flashback Records reissued this in 2018 straight from the master tapes and it sounds fantastic. Enjoy this one for what it is - an enjoyable, relaxing listen of top-notch folk songs given the treatment of that wonderful interplay/combo of Richard Keelan's more floaty vocal streams and Cedric Smith's more theatrical style. I think their cover of "Hurdy Gurdy Man" is possibly my favorite cover of the old Donno song and perhaps the best cover in existence of that tune. Another top-notch cover is the closer here of Dylan's "I Shall Be Released." "Lace And Cobwebs" is another favorite of mine, a sort of floaty Donovan-esque folk number that speaks of the joys of the sun. I imagine Cedric playing this one solo w/an acoustic guitar outside of one of their farms in Canada on a glorious pastorally-peaceful, glowing-sunny day. Keelan's "Mr Truthful Licks" is a also a catchy little ditty with a cool, hippy sort of sentiment to it. "Welcome Surprise" is a delightful listen with Richard Keelan's floaty/earthy vocals. "Take Your Time" includes what we love that often pops up on their masterpiece DNE - the vocal interplay between Richard and Cedric, works lovely here in a message urging the listener to slow down and mellow out. "So Many Things" is another standout, with some delicious finger-pickin' guitar and some floaty, ethereal flute as well. Honestly, all the songs are great, and I immensely enjoy this entire record. Don't go into it expecting another "Does Not Exist" and I suspect you'll feel the same.

Hawkwind - Space Ritual [50th Anniversary Box] - (1973/2023)
They've opened up the vaults of the mighty Hawkwind for what is arguably one of the greatest live albums EVER, the Space Ritual tour! The options for the set were either a 2-disc version with the 'Remaster' of the original album and the 'New Stereo Remix,' or a 10 cd plus Blu-Ray set that contains the previously-mentioned remaster and the new stereo remix AND the addition of THREE previously unreleased COMPLETE gigs from Brixton, Liverpool, and   Sunderland. Also included in the larger set - a 68-page booklet w/new essay and unseen photos, as well as a replica of the 1972 SR Tour Program. A couple things to note here... One is that the 'new stereo mix' by Stephen W Tayler of the original album includes UNEDITED versions of "Brainstorm," "Time We Left This World Today," and "You Shouldn't Do That." The shows all come from the master-tapes and have fantastic dynamic range! Thank the psych godz that no amateurish techniques were applied to these historical documents and the recordings weren't brickwalled into oblivion, so if you decide to fork out the cash, you can be assured of that. As far as the 'new remix' of the original album, I don't see it as a "revelation" like many reviewers claim - maybe I need more listening sessions? In doing a direct A/B comparison, I'd say that my old 2-disc set of SR from 2001 sounds a bit more in-your-face, where the new remix is a bit more subtle... I do notice a few things that are more audible in the new remix that I don't hear as much in the old set I have, but by the same token, the old 2-disc set I have has some more things up-front that seem a bit buried in the new remix.. BUT the remix contains UNEDITED versions of the three songs in bold above. Anyway, with all this said, you might be asking yourself if this set is overkill, speaking of the 10 CD/Blu-Ray set. I'd answer that, NO, it's not too much. This is a LEGENDARY era of Hawkwind and a tour/set that is unmatched to date for fans of psychecelic space/acid-rock. There are differences in the previously unreleased gigs that vary enough to make it worth owning it all. Personally, it's not overkill for me. I dim the lights, crank this baby on my speakers and it's like I'm shot right into space.... DO NOT PANIC! I now have extra, UNEDITED shows from this tripped-out HW experience to enjoy.

I must include this great article from Melody Maker that is mentioned in the essay of the 10-disc/Blu-Ray set. Enjoy!


04-07-2023 - Back To The Land: The Mystical, Bewitching Psych Of The Perth County Conspiracy (part 2)
I managed to get another post up within a reasonable amount of time and not a YEAR! Yay! Less procrastination has been a goal of mine ever since moving into my new place here. I've rambled on about this in the last post a bit, but must say again how infinitely BETTER life is out in-the-country, so many less fucking idiots surrounding you, and more SPACE to BREATHE. Now that I'm a bit more settled in after a few additional upgrades to our new abode, it's even more like a breath of fresh air, NOW 6 months after moving in can the true decompression begin. I'm PSYCHED to present this post in a continuation of the previous one on The Perth County Conspiracy! Again, their "Does Not Exist" album came at such a perfect, pivotal time of my life, when I was striving for peace and solitude, eventually working my way to a more 'pastoral peacefulness' as the band's Richard Keelan did when he escaped urban Detroit for open Canadian farmland. I've gone on a similar journey/quest and have landed myself in similar pastures, surrounded by farmland and an overall friendlier vibe and lifestyle compare to the urban ugliness I dwelled in previously... So I feel a kinship with these folks and what they were trying to do and the lifestyle they were out to achieve. I thought it would be hard to top the interview with Richard Keelan in my last post, but I think with the combination of PCC goodies and another amazing interview with this post that we'll come damn near close! Let's start off with an interview that I gave with Connie Keelan, former wife of Richard and co-conspirator. Connie was around at the earliest inception of PCC, she designed the multi-colored iconic blanket/album artwork that dons the cover of "Does Not Exist," she also designed the album artwork for the fantastic psych-folk album "Gypsy People," by friends of PCC Jan & Lorraine. Here's my interview with Connie followed by some other PCC treats. Enjoy!

To start, can you just talk about your overall recollection of that time with the band and people involved?

That’s a big question. Looking back to 1969 when we first landed in Canada I was a new mother, mostly focused on nursing and raising my infant daughter in the swirl and chaos of lots of music, new people, and new surroundings. We were young and energetic and wanted to change the world for the better. There was so much going on and we were living our back-to-the-land ideals. Most of my memories are of being surrounded by music, musicians, visiting friends at different farmhouses, gardening, canning peaches, tomatoes, pickles, jams and jellies. And so much driving the distances on country roads of SW Ontario to get from place to place. That was a huge adjustment after Detroit freeways and everything being relatively close. I must say I missed Detroit radio, jazz and classical stations hosted by friends, Motown at the beginning of its heyday, and the lively music scene all around the Motor City. And sad to leave family, friends, and career behind. I was so surprised when at my daughter’s first medical visit here, that there was no charge. Free health care! That was, and still is…huge! Especially now as the years roll on. But the fresh air of the countryside was, and still is, an inspiration. We lived with Cedric and his then wife, Joan when we first arrived in Canada in June 1969. One treasured memory is of waking up before dawn each morning while nursing Caitlin, hearing the quiet clip-clop of horses’ hooves, then looking out the window to see an Old Order Mennonite man in his horse-drawn buggy, appearing out of the mist on his way to market. This dawn vignette felt other-worldly, private, and sacred somehow. Often various friends and musicians would drop by with their instruments and “home-grown” for visits and to jam. As for people, there were so many creative loving souls that welcomed us, and sadly many no longer with us. The sixties were a chaotic time for relationships. For some it was the best time of their lives. For some, not so much. For me it was a mix of both. Overall, it was a time of adjusting as couples broke up, changed partners, or just moved on.

Did you sit in on the recording sessions for "Does Not Exist"? If so, can you tell me about the atmosphere of the recording sessions and any memories or stories you can think of from it?

No, I didn’t sit in on the recording sessions for DNE, though I had sat in on the sessions for The Spikedrivers. What impressed me most about those earlier experiences was how the professional session musicians conducted themselves.  They arrived on time, sat down in front of their sheet music, did their job to perfection, then packed up and left when the session was over. From what little I recall hearing about the DNE sessions, they went quite well. There was much excitement about the pending release. Richard has pretty much detailed what happened next.

Can you recall what the band, Richard, Cedric.. thought of the album when they initially heard the recording?

Everyone, Richard, Cedric, band members, fans, were quite excited about it all and had high hopes for its success. We were all on a positive wavelength, flying high.

What are your memories of the songwriting process?

In 1970 we lived in an old farmhouse in Motherwell that overlooked the Thames River. It was a beautiful, picturesque house that I loved dearly, at the end of a rural winding dirt road. Strawberries grew in the garden and delicious mint grew at a wellspring that fed the river deep in the valley across the road. I’ve never tasted mint this sweet. I still have plants grown from cuttings of that mint here in my garden that I use for tea and blender drinks. My memories of Richard writing are of him in the little room upstairs at his desk in that house. He was always writing, writing, writing, and more writing. As you must know, writing can be a lonely task in a way. Then there were times when Richard and Cedric would get together with their instruments and toss ideas and lines back and forth, just the natural part of the sharing experience. We’d usually be together at one or other of our rented farmhouses and it was just an organic process. The guitars would come out after a meal, then likely a smoke, and there would be the relaxing creative time…

Can you talk about the front cover that you designed for "Does Not Exist"? Did you also stitch together that cover quilt that's on there? And can you talk about the design, did you have complete freedom on the design exclusively, or was there input from band members?

Yes, the musicians trusted me, and I pretty much had freedom with the design. I’d done a lot of commercial design work previously. I was also the photographer with my Rollei twin lens reflex on a tripod at the farm where everyone congregated in front of the barn at Embro. It was an “event” so to speak. I was one of the group of women who met numerous times and worked on the quilt at “The V”, the farm where Cedric and Joan lived at the time, just outside of Tavistock. Some of the scraps of fabric were gleaned from offcuts of costume-making at the Stratford Festival Theatre. Those were the days when worn and used costumes were sent to the dump. People would go dumpster-diving and come up with great items. That was when the theatre was in the red. Now they have a huge warehouse to store costumes, and offer warehouse tours, rentals to other theatres, and occasional sales.

Are you one of the people on that front cover?

I’m not in the picture, but our daughter Caitlin is the baby on the right in the picture sitting on Richard’s shoulders. I can name everyone in the picture and miss many, some of whom are no longer with us.

Do you still have the original artwork for that?

Yes I believe I still have the art work filed somewhere.

You also designed the cover artwork for Jan & Lorraine's album. Could you talk about that and you and the PCC's association with them?

Yes, I have an emotional attachment to that album cover. I finished the work on it for our dear friends Jan Hendin and Lorraine LeFevre on the day before Caitlin was born in April 1969. It was truly a work of love for friends I admired. Richard and I had a close relationship with them when we lived in Detroit. We were always at each other’s homes, or clubs where they played, or where Richard happened to be playing, or on tour somewhere. I have a fond memory of traveling with Jan and Lorraine in Jan’s psychedelic floral-painted VW bus to Boston to visit Jim Kweskin and Maria Muldaur (of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band) before heading for Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod. I’d just sold 3 art posters to Personality Posters and was flush with cash. I think it was 1965 or ’66. Some of the posters still appear on eBay from time to time and are scooped up by collectors. Those were heady days to put it mildly. We stopped at Timothy Leary’s place on the way to The Cape and have videos of us taking turns swinging on a huge swing in the front yard there. We laughed and sang and laughed so much! Sadly, Jan passed away a number of years ago, much to my shock. She was a great supporter of my artwork, having bought several of my stained-glass pieces and watercolor paintings. She was so talented and was such a great friend. I’ve kept her letters all these years. I miss her a lot.

I know the word 'commune' gets thrown around a lot, but if you really look into and read about PCC, it was more of a community of farms that lived in close proximity of one another who created together. 

That’s correct. It was more a loosely scattered community of farms that happened to be in Perth County. They were mostly miles from each other. It took me a long time to get used to how much time we spent driving the distances from one place to another. We shared a lot of music and meals, etc. together. I still have pen and ink sketches I made of friends during some of those visits.

Could you share your thoughts on the lifestyle at that time? Richard and yourself initially went there to get away from the noise of the city and for a more serene sort of existence, correct?

We initially immigrated to Canada in 1969 because Richard was offered steady work at The Black Swan Coffeehouse. The previous year, in 1968, Harry Finlay had scouted Richard and Ted Lucas as the Misty Wizards at the Retort Coffeehouse in Detroit. Richard and Teddy had played The Black Swan in Stratford all that summer. After Richard and Ted parted ways, Richard accepted Harry’s offer to return to The Black Swan and we decided to move to Canada. Also, we’d experienced the closing of the Canada/USA border for three days during the Detroit Riots and wanted to be north of that border after living at the edge of the riots. We’d witnessed armored tanks driving down Woodward Avenue, seen armed guards posted to protect various businesses and Richard and Ted were enlisted to protect Ted’s father’s restaurant. One evening as I passed by the front window of our apartment, an armored car passed by and a soldier pointed his rifle at the window. From then on during the nights of the riots I had to crawl past the window as soldiers were ordered to shoot at anything that moved. However, I was reluctant to leave as I had a solid career as a designer in promotion for The J.L. Hudson Company, as well as a good client base for free-lance work. When we visited Chuck and Joni Mitchell at their apartment in Detroit, with the beautiful cupboards she had painted in floral motifs, she encouraged me to go to Canada, assuring me I’d love it. I will be ever thankful for her encouragement at that time. After Caitlin was born and before we emigrated, we made numerous excursions to Stratford. We noticed our baby Caitlin’s sinus congestion would always clear up when we crossed the border into the cleaner air of Canada and unfortunately returned as we reached the outskirts of the lower air quality around Detroit, on our way home. The difference in Caitlin’s health was so noticeable, we had to make the change. And then there were the politics and the Vietnam war. I have vivid memories of the friendliness of the uniformed immigration officers when we first arrived here in Stratford.

As for the lifestyle at the time, on the one hand there was the uplifting joy, energy, and idealism of the poetry, music, social gatherings, and living close to the land. On the other hand, there was a more naïve socially open environment influenced by the pill as well as by Playboy. This open activity was not limited to the PCC. The free love movement had its discomforts and casualties. People experimented without thought of the consequences, sadly leaving some emotionally damaged. A lot was learned.

Could you share some thoughts and memories of Richard and Cedric as people. Differences, similarities etc?

That’s a tough one. Each is a strong artist in his own right with strong egos and personalities. Both are very creative. I miss seeing them play together and banter back and forth as in the old days. Cedric is more theatrical, as shown by his long list of acting accomplishments. Richard is more of a poet/dreamer. I remember some of Richard’s mesmerizing ragas played on his 12-string guitar that left audiences spellbound and breathless. Richard and Teddy had studied with Ravi Shankar years ago in California, and his (Richard’s) musical style was so uplifting and strong. I’d love to hear more of that. It would be wonderful if Richard and Cedric could get together again for old time’s sake, if only to revisit those days.

What are you up to these days? Are you still involved in the creative process in any way?

These days I’m into photography, taking too many pictures on my daily dawn walks. It’s amazing how the same route will offer such differing moods, colours, and inspiration, depending on the weather and season. I graduated from Parsons School of Design and took photography classes there. Later I studied with Freeman Patterson, one of Canada’s foremost nature photographers. My dad was one of the forerunners of the dye-transfer process in colour photography and my uncle was also a well-known photographer, so I was surrounded by pros. My dad was also an art teacher at Cleveland School of Art before becoming art director at Life Magazine for many years. I started taking pictures for fun and then as inspiration for paintings, something I plan on getting back to soon. And then there’s the gardening which is also a source of inspiration and inner peace. I’m a grandmother now so I have a focus on three grandchildren as well. I have so many ideas, maybe too many, and so much to do looking forward. Thank you Brent for your thoughtful questions. It’s been a pleasure working with you and revisiting the old days.

Final words from Connie below:

As an addendum to this interview, and to clarify my background which isn’t accurate on the ‘net, I was born in Lakewood Ohio. My dad, Stanley Thomas Clough (the son of Provincetown painter Thomas Clough), graduated, then taught art at the Cleveland School of Art. He was part of the WPA projects, doing posters, murals, and photography. When I was 2, we moved to White Plains, NY where my dad was art director at Life Magazine for years. I grew up in White Plains, graduated from WPHS then from Parsons School of Design. I met Richard in NYC in the elevator of our apartment on East 53rd Street. He was working singing and playing in Greenwich Village around the time when Bob Dylan made the cover of Time Magazine and Joni Mitchell and Richie Havens were just getting started. I remember Richie Havens coming into the Café Basement after hours to perform “Hard Rain” just after Dylan had finished writing it. It was a huge music scene then. We moved to Florida for a year, the year we tragically lost JFK. Then to the Lemon Tree Coffee House in Dayton, Ohio, and on to Detroit. At the risk of shameless self-promotion, I’ve included some of my art works from those days, which have somehow become “vintage”. (How the years fly by!) The art posters and art cards are still available for sale, some on eBay or by direct contact. Thank you.

As I mentioned, I have a few other choice PCC goodies up my sleeve to end the PCC portion of this post. One of the choicest nugs is an hour long CBC radio broadcast that aired a little over a decade ago and delves deep into "Does Not Exist." It includes interviews with Richard, Cedric and more! A truly fascinating document that is in my opinion an essential companion piece to the album. Also, we have a documentary on 'hippy' communes. The most interesting footage of course is live PCC footage, particularly snippets of a live performance of "Crucifixation Cartoon" as well some awesome footage of one of the PCC farms in the Canadian countryside, snow-covered, and in one clip on said farm we see Cedric Smith singing "This Moment" by Incredible String Band! Thanks to Ezra Lesser for doing some restoration work on the video, which originally had some washed-out color issues. Lastly, Terry Jones of PCC was recently interviewed by It's Psychedelic Baby! where he gives some interesting insight into each song on "Does Not Exist" as well as loads of other information on the band, highly recommended! All these links outlined below. Enjoy!

-Inside the Music - Dream Times: The Perth County Conspiray... Does Not Exist

-Hippie Commune Documentary (restored)

-Terry Jones Interview (It's Psychedelic Baby!)

Moving on to other topics... Finally, without having to fork over a mortgage payment price-tag for a long out-of-print used hard copy, ENDLESS TRIP was released in digital format in PDF! I'm perfectly fine with digital-only here for a few reasons; it's SUPER simple to search/jump to wherever you want, now we've got a digitally preserved copy of the book for the ultimate backup, and you can pop the PDF onto your phone and have a 700+ page reference book with you when you shop for records! Digital is where it's at in my world at this point, I've fully embraced it 100%. I have so much more room in my music lair now that I've got multiple shelves of cd's and DVD's stored in my crawl-space! Back to Endless Trip... This book is a massive index of 60's/70's psych, hard-rock and beyond. One of my favorite things about it is that it will include multiple reviews of an album from the time it was released as well as contemporary reviews. It's really amusing reading how some of these music critic snobs stuck their pompous, snooty noses up the air to some phenomenal albums! Especially corporate whore rags like Rolling Stone. I also really dig the record ads that are thrown in here throughout, as well as various photographs. This is an amazing reference book that I imagine will lead to more musical discoveries. Well worth the modest price to purchase the PDF compared to the hefty sums used print copies fetch. DEF snag this!

An unfortunate item of note is the passing of the mighty thunder rider Nik Turner this past November. Nik Turner was of course one of the original members of the great psychedelic space rock band HAWKWIND. Nik appears on the BEST of Hawkwind's discography, which are those classic early HW records; self-titled debut (1970), In Search of Space (1971), Doremi Fasol Latido (1972), among others, including one of THE best live albums of all time, Space Ritual (1973). Nik's unique sax in which he ran through effects to garble and warp it, Dik Mik emitting warped other-worldly sounds of all dimensions on an 'audio generator,' Del Dettmar adding more mind-fuckery w/his synthesizer sounds, and of course Dave Brock's driving guitar riffs... Hawkwind could really get you 'out there,' and they lived up to the hype especially with their live stage shows. I had the pleasure of meeting Nik on a few occasions. I even opened for him on guitar back in 2004 in Philadelphia, my mind was blown to smithereens at one point mid-set where he joined us on-stage with his sax! I've had conversations with him in which he describes embodying the 'true spirit' of the band. Nik welcomes audio/video recordings and such whereas grumpy Brockie sends goons into the audience to nab anyone who even attempts to capture any live footage. I'm grateful to have made the journey to witness Nik blast us into outer space with Hawkwind songs on a handful of occasions, shows I will never forget. Below is a pic of Nik and myself after a show of his in 2013. RIP Nik, you are gone but never forgotten.

Mighty Baby - s/t (1969)
Formed out of 60's mod group The Action, Mighty Baby expanded their minds a bit from their 60's pop/mod days with this record. Now, this is English psych, which if often a bit 'twee,' with lyrics of sipping tea in quaint loafers and good ol' auntie's scarf knitting and kindly watchmakers etcetera.. BUT I can confidently say that this band did not fall into the trappings of petty wankers and the like. This is a genuine sounding effort, and a fantastic album that I only discovered about a year ago. The opener, "Egyptian Tomb" is of course one of the highlights with the mesmerizing dual-guitar work and alienated lyrics, the sound gives me a desert-trip vibe with the sun gleaming in the misty air... This is another one that came along at a pivotal time in my life, and it will always flash me back to it, this past year when I was trying to move out of the urban ugliness in which I lived and get out 'in the country.' The lyrics sort of spoke to me. "I'm From The Country" is always one that gets knocked as the stinker on the record, but to me, it came along at a time when I was trying to make big changes. After I reached my desired destination here among the farmlands of PA, the song took on an heir of a fine-wine to me as I listened, much like the plea in the lyrics of this song. "House Without Windows" is another one... I'll add another true story here: at one point I had to put kevlar (bulletproof) material over my living room windows due to a bullet that went through the neighbor's house, missing my window by mere inches. So a 'house without windows' felt like my life for a few years! This song has some fantastic lead guitar work as well, which must be noted for the entire record. "Trials Of A City" again hit close to home, I was trying to escape the trials of the city, thankfully managing to do so! This song also has some great, ripping guitar work. Speaking of ripping guitar work, "Same Way From The Sun" has it in spades from Martin Stone! Wow, this song tore my head off and was a big one that drew me in upon being initiated into this record. Just unrelenting, killer lead fuzz guitar work that flashed me back at certain moments to Jay Donnellan ala "August" on Love's 1969 effort.. Hey, same year as this release, was Martin diggin' on some Jay or vice versa? I read an interview where a band member ripped this song as one of the worst, I assume he's pointing to the lyrics, he thought pretentious, but I dig the cosmic sort of questioning of the universe and its meaning, and the answers that lie within... I know I've put a lot of personal meaning in this review, but I think any psych head who can appreciate a diverse-sounding record will mostly certainly dig this. I've got the cd on Big Beat which sounds fantastic and is apparently from the tapes.

Chad & Jeremy - The Ark (1968)
The final album by Chad & Jeremy here and possibly their finest work. People normally always cite 'Of Cabbages & Kings' as the band's best album as far as their foray into psych, but 'The Ark' is THE one to me. Although, "Rest In Peace" off Cabbages is undeniably fantastic I must say. "The Ark" was not well received, at least commercially, upon its release. You should read some of the reviews, one of the pompous fucks even alluded to the guys having a bit 'too much sunshine' on their brains when they recorded this. What a square, pompous wanker! This album is deliciously chock-full of beautiful, floaty, dreamy pop-psych with lush orchestral arrangements. "Sunstroke" is my favorite on here, the clear winner with that eastern vibe and tripped-out sitar, 'is the sky really that bluuuuuuue.' "Pipe Dream" is also another great, stony one, dreamy lyrics with floating background vocals, a violin thrown in at one point for good measure and to change the mood, it's all really well done. "Painted Dayglow Smile" gives Beatles vibes, but it fits the overall vibe of the record. There's lots of flute in here too, which I'm a sucker for, you throw some flute in their with psychy-vibes and you've got me reeled in. Honestly, the ONLY stinker to me is "You Need Feet," the closer... And I mean it's not HORRIBLE, I just think it detracts from the greatness of this record with its silliness. Pair this album up with like "Odessey & Oracle," and I think back to back you've got an orchestral pop-psych evening for the ages. This is it, Chad & Jeremy dipping their tongues into some of the Owsley stuff here, their true baroque/pop-psych gem. I've got the 2006 cd from Sony Japan (MHCP-979) and it sounds great to my ears, if you're going to seek out a digital version, I highly recommend it.

Fresh Blueberry Pancake - Heavy (1970)
This is a record that flew under the radar for a long time, I only recently discovered it thanks to an old, wise head I've known for years. I SHOULD have known about these guys too, being that they're from just a couple hours drive away in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The music is HARD-ROCK that is propelled by some delicious FUZZ guitar throughout. You can debate if this is PSYCH or not, but I'll tell you - the way that tasty fuzz guitar massages my brain, I'd say it can absolutely veer into the psych category personally, but call it what you will... I must note that this is actually just a demo LP the band put out, and VERY little copies were pressed, I saw one report that it could be under 60! "Hassles" opens the record just walloping you with delicious fuzz guitar and some tasteful rebellion in the lyrics about not wanting to cut your hair to conform... As a fellow 'long haired punk,' as I've been called, I can relate to this and love to just CRANK this sucker LOUD. The sound is a bit raw, but it just works with this style of fuzz-driven rock, it's not too polished, just rough 'round the edges... "Clown On A Rope" is another standout track, again with that brain-massaging fuzz guitar, and a killer solo thrown in... I dig the raw sound of the drums on this record, they're so fitting with the overall vibe, speaking of the drummer's style too, it all just gels together perfectly; that primitive beat with the stripped-down heavy fuzz riffage. A song that doesn't get much credit on this is one that I really enjoy, "Bad Boy Turns Good." No fuzz on this one, but a harmonica-driven song about what sounds like it could be a current day nutty MAGA right winger.. I mean listen to those lyrics 'I scream at the people who knock my country, if they don't like it they can leave.' Sounds like the same folks today who are worried about drag shows and having weird delusions of children being 'groomed' and 'indoctrinated.' As the title of this song says, the bad boy 'turns good,' if only we can have that outcome with the current state of some of the knuckle-dragging morons who walk around 'ol 'Murica lately eh? A man can dream... The fuzz-driven tunes and "Bad Boy Turns Good" are the winners here in my eyes.. They're not all winners, there are a couple boring fuzz-less blues rockers here, but this is still worth checking out. I have both the unofficial Shadocks cd from 2001 as well as the OFFICIAL reissue on Ancient Grease Records on colored vinyl from 2022. Both aren't PERFECT by any means: the reissue improves on some things from the Shadoks release, but falls short of being 'definitive' due to it being cut loud from a brickwalled digital master. At any rate, pick up what you can as originals are essentially unobtainable.

Markley - A Group (1970)
This is the final album by the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. However, at the insistence of Bob Markley, it was released under 'Markley' as the band name. Why? Who knows... Markley was clearly an odd dude. I think this one often goes under the radar and is generally underrated, but it's DAMN good to my ears. It gets dark too, definitely not standard 60's pop. "Booker T & His Electric Shock" is one of my favorites, a fun tune that brings visions of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, I find myself singing along when the song isn't even on lately. The strange, eerie sort of paranoia of "Roger The Rocket Ship," the sweet, melancholy of "Elegant Ellen" and "Little Ruby Rain." The song that probably sounds most like earlier WCPAEB would be the closer, "Outside/Inside." I find this album to be great hiking music, personally. I discovered it when I was going through a lot of things, specifically some introspection and things going on in my life, and the feel of this music with its breezy, ethereal vibe just sort of worked on long hikes through the woods to clear the head. Do NOT sleep on this one if you have yet to take the trip! I have the cd on the Acid Symposium label, there's not much info on it, not even a release date, but it sounds good to my ears.

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Strictly Personal (1968)
The most lysergic effort from Mr. Van Vliet indeed! Weed and acid were big with the band at this time and that's reflected in the grooves here for sure. This was the first album recorded for the label Blue Thumb Records. Apparently, label owner Bob Krasnow added psychedelic effects like phaser and such after the fact, and Don was pissed! I think it works though, this is a great acid-blues record. The combination of that delta blues with Don Van Vliet's howlin' vocal delivery in combination with the mind-warping aspects of the effects really mix up the medicine quite nicely. It's like backwoods acid-swamp music! Down and dirty psychedelic blues bubba! "Safe As Milk" is a big favorite of mine, a groovin' foot-stomper that just f'n ROCKS, with that tribal drumming and the twangy sliding guitars! A tripped-out flange effect closes out the song to great effect. "Trust Us" is super hazy and stoney, tripped-out with flange-galore. As much as Don Van Vliet was irate at the psychedelic effects being added, they just WORK, even with his lyrics throughout this record, a lot of them are very introspective and just sort of abstract and unique.... And the effects are added TASTEFULLY in my opinion, not too much or too little, but peppered in JUST right. And with the best of psych records, this is one that I feel like I'm noticing new things upon each listen, there's a lot going on. For example, on "Trust Us," right at about 1:49 in, just listen to those layered guitar sounds, that sort of cacophony of sound in each channel damn near defines psychedelia. The whole album is a trip and instantly became a top ranking CB record for me! It's a unique trip, in an unconventional sort of way, it's like late-night tripping stumbling upon a weird film with a backwoods setting that is genuinely psychedelic in the TRUEST, natural sense of the word, not trying too hard, but GENUINE, the kind of trip you remember most. "Kandy Korn" is another favorite of mine on here, totally psychedelic lyrics too - "be reborn, be reformed," like being spit out the other end of an acid trip, and that chaotic BEAUTY that starts at 2:10 in and stretches on for a full 3 minutes is pure bliss, orgiastic layered guitar madness and beauty all wrapped into one, and in my opinion one of the most god-like psychedelic things ever recorded in the late 60's! This is such a phenomenal way to close the record too! No GOOD digital release of this album exists, apparently a 1994 cd that did use tape-source also heavily noise-reduced it, essentially killing the life of the sound, and reissues on vinyl aren't even up to par with the way this NEEDS to be heard to appreciate it. You're in luck because ThePoodleBites over at UPV has transferred a genuine original pressing in M- condition, finally preserving this record for our digital archiving and listening pleasure. This is THE definitive master and likely will be for the remainder of time. Grab it here: Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Strictly Personal (1968) [US Original]


09-09-2022 - Back To The Land: The Mystical, Bewitching Psych Of The Perth County Conspiracy (part 1)
This post takes on a bit of a personal significance for me. I've recently sold the home I've inhabited for the last 13 years, this place was just outside the city of Philadelphia. I was then fortunate enough to land a new home out 'in the country,' where I really want to be. In fact, launching this post the second weekend in the new place! It took a lot of work to get here, but it's pure joy to be away from all of the urban ugliness and just being so CROWDED on top of people essentially (row home life). The neighborhood wasn't getting any better either; a mugging on the corner in broad daylight, multiple shootings just down the road... Twas' certainly time to head for zee hills! So, I'm currently OUT here near the farmlands of Pennsylvania, MUCH more open space and room to BREATHE. It's a sort of a Relatively Clean Rivers Phil Pearlman-esque trip, as Patrick Lundborg once said; 'the fallout from the post-acid lifestyle, told from the third cardinal point,' ya dig? Anyway, this leads me to the main topic of this post, centering upon THE PERTH COUNTY CONSPIRACY. Richard Keelan, one of the founders of the group had been residing in Detroit, MI and he and his wife were witnessing the Detroit riots in 1967. Part of the neighborhood had been completely destroyed and in Richard's words, the 'pastoral peacefulness' in rural Southern Ontario sounded very appealing to him at the time. Richard and his wife Connie moved into Cedric Smith's farmhouse in Ontario, it was there that the early seeds of PCC were sown and some material started to be worked on. There's always been this notion of a COMMUNE, and when you look at the "Does Not Exist" album cover, it can be easy to see how that notion could be gleaned. However, instead of a single central 'commune' in the purest sense of the term, it was more of a commune of several different farms with people working together in a creative sense and even just as family; looking out for one another, sharing food from their farms w/one another, making toys for the children, meeting up at the local coffeehouse to perform together. It was in a sense like a society unto itself, w/many of the members seeking peace from the big city, or even fleeing the U.S. due to the draft. A 'back to the land' culture of like-minded folks who wanted to create their own culture rather than conforming to what society has deemed as 'normal' or appropriate.

PCC had signed a record contract with Columbia and recorded their debut album "Does Not Exist" at world renowned studio Toronto Sound with Terry Brown producing it and being much responsible for the magic in masterfully intertwining the collaging that PCC is known for within the songs. Believe it or not, this album has NEVER been released officially in digital form, or even a good proper reissue in fact. Also, I admit I had a vinyl rip in my possession for a number of years, but due to the poor quality transfer, I never really listened to it much. Flash forward many years later and I would be truly turned-on to this masterpiece like never before when a proper vinyl transfer/restoration was done by the incredible Poodle over at UPV (link coming in a bit here). Yes folks, sound quality matters! This record is unlike any other, it's like stepping into another world. Hearing a proper transfer of this album was breathtaking in that the QUALITY of the recording is just phenomenal. It's like the band is playing right in your living room if you blast this from some good speakers. The opener, "Midnight Hour," is a 6+ minute suite that immediately shows off PCC doing what they do best, and what was a staple of their live show during the time, that is melding together and 'collaging' multiple songs into one w/poetry, literature, various time and mood changes, and doing it surprisingly perfectly as if it was all meant to be. You'll hear sound effects peppered throughout the album that set the tone/mood such as a crackling fireside, sounds from the country and more. I find that the album succeeds in retaining a heady, tripped-out edge without the overly-psychedelic sounds effects that were prevalent back in the day (backwards tapes, sound effects etc.), this record is psychedelic in a sort of all-natural vibe, the PUREST psychedelia you can have my friends. The record is often what I call life-guiding, in that there's messages within that inspire. "Keeper of The Key" is one of these tracks, I remember during a rather difficult time of my life, I took a walk on a bright, sunny day along a path through the forest beside a creek and listened intently to the words and it all just sort of came together for me, centered my being and my soul, the warmth of the bright sun on my face and the awe of the cascading water over the rocks in the creek... 'the water of life does flow freely, said the keeper of the key, drink the light and be the music flowing forth in harmony...' 'be true to the virtue that you seek.' I find this track to be truly cathartic at high volume levels! "Don't You Feel Fine" - this is another, doesn't get anymore life-guiding that that one, many lessons within if you choose to turn-on an listen! Jan & Lorraine, whom were friends with PCC would cover this song on their "Gypsy People" album. "Truth & Fantasy" is another big standout here, again with the collaging that works just oh-so-well here on this song especially... This is another sort of multi-song suite that goes in some different moods and directions, even a fun little spoken-word piece before bringing it back to completion with how it started. A sort of orgiastic sing-along with Richard and Cedric's vocals complementing one another so brilliantly as they do on the entire record. The whole record is like a life unto itself, so unique in how it draws you in while at the same time having this sort of mystical vibe to it all like it's some lost key to the universe or something. "Trouble On The Farm" breaks things up with a jammy little groover about a pot bust that Cedric Smith endured when the cops busted him with a load of weed on his farm. "The Dancer" is a beautiful piece, this is another one I was in the forest hiking with, GREAT setting for this record if you're able... I was sitting upon an enormous rock overlooking the creek, the sunlight was creating prisms through the trees, little leaves and things were creating trippy ripples all over the water, the lyrics were just beautiful in this sort of meditative nature scene, then Richard's frantic chord progressions on the acoustic guitar to launch the song into the great beyond. Ahhhh, pure bliss. The closer, "Crucifixation Cartoon" is almost like a warning, at least to me, that it takes effort and work to reach the levels spoken about in previous songs, a sort of somber ending that works the more I listen to the album. So, like I said, unreal that an album THIS good has not seen proper reissue. But we're in luck as the Poodle over at UPV has ripped a copy from an Acid Archives contributor (full circle eh?), a copy with new stampers and improved sound over the 'two-eyed' originals - you'll hear more about the originals next in my interview with RICHARD KEELAN, yes you heard that right! In the meantime, go and get this NOW, you've never heard this record sound this good, BLEW ME AWAY and made me fall in love with this gem, shooting it right up into my favorite albums of all time - The Perth County Conspiracy - Does Not Exist (1970) [Canadian LP]

It took some time, but I finally tracked down Richard Keelan who was gracious enough to let me pick his brain about his band and their magical record that I've been madly obsessed with for the past couple years. Enjoy!

So you initially left the States for a more peaceful, serene setting in Canada on a farm? What ultimately led you to depart the States?

I had heard of Cedric some time before we met. In the early 60s he was playing a circuit of Midwestern US coffee-houses billed as Ric Smith, some of which i had also played. My playing journey saw me end up in Detroit in '64, where I lived for the next five years, eventually becoming an original member of The Spike Drivers, a psychedelic folk/rock band of considerable local fame. When that band devolved, two of us (Ted Lucas RIP and I) formed a duo we called the Misty Wizards, and in 1968 we were booked to play the Black Swan Coffee House in Stratford ON, which is where Cedric and I eventually met. Connie and i lived in a mostly black neighborhood in Detroit when the 'Black Day in July' erupted in 67, a sobering experience indeed! Our daughter Caitlin came along in '69, and we decided to emigrate to Canada that year. Cedric and his wife Joan offered to have us stay at their farmhouse til we soon found a place of our own. While we were at their place was when Cedric and I started tossing song ideas together and plotting our non-existent Conspiracy. The rest, as 'they' say, is history.

How did you first meet Cedric and what were your first impressions of him?

At the time we met, I already had a fair amount of original songs in my repertoire, while Cedric, up to that time, mostly performed some standard folk songs, British and Irish trad ballads and so on, but was also writing some original material. He obviously had a strong, vibrant voice, and we harmonized well together. He had interesting ideas for 'collaging' songs together; thus we came up with (best example) 'You've Got to Know,' a finished song of mine (Love to Make) with a mash-up of lyric snippets by Cedric in the beginning and middle to form the whole piece. We worked like that a lot of the time, sometimes improvising chunks live onstage which became set pieces along the way. Just about everything we ever recorded is now up on YouTube, with those who post it apparently earning ad revenue if they have enough subscribers... er something... We get little, if not nothing, from all that (my last payout from SOCAN songwriter royalties was .43 cents ... nuff said.) That said, here is a YT posting of our independent 'white album,' which I mixed down from two-track tapes taken from the soundboard on this Western Canada concert tour. I've always felt this represented our live shows quite well, although the audio quality isn't quite studio-grade... Good songs, improvised comic relief, and enthusiastic crowd
response. David Woodhead, bassist with PCC later on, transferred this
to CD a few years ago... have a listen.

How did you feel playing in the PCC versus the garagey-er Spike-Drivers & Misty Wizards? Did you find it easier to be creative in the smaller collaborative unit of PCC?

The two situations were completely different. The Spikes were already formed,
and I was the last to join. They already had a repertoire, and we added my already written songs to it; there was no co-writing going on. In PCCDNE, Cedric and I were collaborating as the group accreted around us, and we collaged more and more chunks of material as the collective grew, It was
a much more progressive improvisatory process.

Similarly, how did you find working with Reprise versus Columbia? Both labels seem to have aspects (at least) of extremely poor artistic management.

Artistic management?!! Surely you jest... Major labels don't - and don't care to 'manage' artists careers unless they're profiting from it - then they just manage the money. So, with a new artist/new contract, they're throwing artists and money against the wall to see what sticks. Without adequate financial returns, their 'investment' becomes a tax deduction, and so much for 'artistic management.' The artists slither down the wall to obscurity. The Reprise contract we Spikes signed in the U.S. in '65 stipulated: artists receive 8% of sales after expenses (studio time, promo, whatevs...), artists relinquish 50% of composers royalties and 50% of mechanical licensing royalties to Warner/Reprise publishing house. The Columbia (Canada) contract PCCDNE signed in 1970 was...(checking my notes).... yep - exactly.   the.   same. 8%, 50/50 on publishing and mechanicals. The main distinction was with Reprise, the Spikes only recorded singles - searching for a 'hit';  with Columbia, it was for making an album, which was progress, at least. In neither case did we ever receive any money from sales from either company. In fact, in Columbia's case, we told 'em to fuck off and didn't sign away half our publishing on our second album cuz we were not pleased with what they did with it. So they just dumped 'Alive' into the market with no real promo, and we parted company. At some later point, they sent us an invoice for $18,000 for 'expenses incurred' or some shit... We had a good laugh and sailed that invoice into the wastebasket. Never heard from 'em after that.

Did you guys come to record Does Not Exist with all the material prepared ahead of time? How much of the record was created on-the-fly vs. prepared upon arrival to the studio?

Yes, all the material was rehearsed and prepared for recording. I must point out that the recording engineer at Toronto Sound, Terry Brown, was key to how the album turned out. Once we helped him understand the 'collaging' aspect of how we combined song and spoken word with flights of fancy, his engineering wizardry resulted in the finished album having the impact it has had with folks like you and our fans over the last 50+ years. (if you google Terry, you'll find he later produced/recorded major Canadian acts like Rush and many others)

Were drugs often used when creating songs, or when in the studio?

If, by drugs, you mean cannabis - hell yes! I mean, I've been smokin' it from well before it was deemed 'medicinal'; for me, it was always the cure (read: medicine) for the accelerating insanity we've all survived through the 20th and into this 21st century... And yes, it played a part in the creative process. But sometimes getting high while recording, under the time restraints and money pressures, was not usually a good idea - it was work, and best to be efficient and workmanlike in most cases.

I was not able to find any advertisements for the band or album stateside. Did PCC ever have aspirations of a US tour?

Obviously Columbia (Canada) felt they weren't making enough profit off us to warrant US promo and/or release - which was fine by me; I like Canada, and there was plenty enough to do in this country.

Could you comment about each song on the album, what it means to you? In particular, I wonder what was going through your head when writing "Keeper Of The Key" and the poem that became "Crucifixation Cartoon" - if you could elaborate even more on those two in particular, that would be fantastic.

I must say up front: I've never felt any compunction to explain songs I write. Whatever I say in a song is for the listener to take whatever the words say to mean for themselves. And no two listeners will likely take the same meaning, IMHO. I don't want to tell people what to think, but to think! Interpret for themselves, apply to their own life...or not! Exercise choice.
That said, firstly, I'll offer no opinions or comments on Cedric's stand-alone songs, just as I won't for my own - except for the two examples you asked me to comment on. They offer the polar opposites of what I'm talking about: I had written 'Keeper of the Key' in Detroit, before I moved to Canada. That's nearly 60 years ago! I was a twenty-something, and have no fuckin' idea what was going through my head, other than the thoughts that produced the song. Frankly, I don't remember writing it... so there's that.
The other song, the one collaged into 'Crucifixation Cartoon,' was maybe
titled 'Love is not a Game,' can't recall, once it was subsumed into the
whole piece.  But a lyric like "love is not the same as acting in a play"
fit with our whole theatrical ethic in putting together 'scenes' within our
musical set pieces. The same idea would apply in the collaging of
'Truth and Fantasy,' with snippets of poetry cascading into Cedric's
'Goddess Fantasia' song, then the reprise of 'Truth and Fantasy' as a
closing parenthesis. Again, the idea applies to 'Listen to the Kids,' putting
that little kiddie ditty I'd written together with poems by children that
Cedric curated and were read by youngsters from our community... simple idea that worked. Oh yeah, I'd written 'Easy Rider' after seeing that movie, and the war scene at the end was a collage of an old Lord Buckley bit, plus
catastrophic sound effects... and the word 'AmeriCanadian' was actually a motto emblazoned across the top of my membership card in the local Canadian branch of the American Federation of Musicians! (I've long-since abandoned that union like they abandoned me) And that's about as much as I want to parse out our writings from half a century ago. I leave it to the listener to glean what they can, and search out their own meanings.

Thanks Richard! Any additional bits of information you'd like to share, please go ahead as the final piece of this interview.

There's one other ridiculous anomaly regarding this record's actual physical manufacturing. Columbia marketing guys came at us with this new 'microgroove process,' touting it excitedly as a way to get all the material we'd recorded onto one disc! Now, most vinyl LPs average 20 minutes per side, or about 40 min total. 'Does Not Exist' totaled... um ... 54 minutes or so. There was a huge flaw in this idea. The 'micro-grooved' discs began to break down soon after purchase quite quickly. We saw it ourselves, and others told us about it. So the irony there is that the audio messages of 'Does Not Exist' began to fade with every playing into the mode of doesnotexistance - because of Columbia's delusional incompetence. But they didn't stop there. After we had recorded two nights live in concert for our second album, those marketing guys decided to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the material out over a two-disc package - obviously to sell for a higher price. We objected; they persisted, and as noted above, we refused to sign away our publishing. In the end, the 'Alive' album tracked for less time over four sides of vinyl than 'Does Not Exist' did on two sides - and  'Alive' had just 3... three! cuts per side, fa'chrissakes... If i was easily given to paranoia, I'd suspect those marketing Einsteins were sabotaging us. But that would be giving them too much credit for being smart.

After all is said and done, I'll just quote Gregory Porter, who sings:

     "it's just water under bridges that have already burned"

*STAY TUNED FOR PT. 2 OF THE PCC STORY IN AN UPCOMING BLOG POST (near future, promise!) - in the meantime enjoy the remainder of this post below

Its been a long time since I've gone on a hunt for a live show video, unofficial live show video that is. This one proved to be quite the challenge. I'd enjoyed a live clip of The Red Telephone from youtube for a number of years, I always thought it was a primo live version of the song. I also always wondered if a FULL live version of this Love concert existed. I went on the hunt and found out that a FULL LIVE VIDEO of this concert was filmed - House of Blues - Aug. 19, 2003 in West Hollywood, CA! I began scouring the internet with deep searches of all kinds. It seemed every lead I got eventually led to nowhere. I was elated to have FINALLY found a dedicated Love fan who dug this out of his archives and uploaded the full, uncompressed DVD files for me. This show blew me away even more than I could have imagined. The official live Forever Changes DVD? I can't even see myself putting that show on anymore now that I've obtained this show. This is an audience-recorded video, but it's nicely done; filmed on a tripod, center-stage, tasteful close-ups throughout and nice full-stage shots. Nice, beefy setlist, but of course the centerpiece is the sublime, the timeless, the life-guiding majesty that is the great FOREVER CHANGES, and they play the album start-to-finish with a full orchestra just like the studio album to do it justice. You can tell Arthur is really feeling it here and in a fantastic mood, dancing about the stage and traveling the length of it, gyrating about. I got goosebumps throughout the set, no joke. "Old Man" was one of those moments, Arthur is brilliant in his tribute to the late Bryan MaClean, and at one point he's looking at the lyrics then just tosses them as if saying 'I don't need these.' After the FC set, they play some other favorites including the frantic "7 & 7 Is," and a couple of my faves off Four Sail including "August" and "Singing Cowboy." Unfortunately, the DVD ends just prior to Johnny Echols joining on guitar and Don Konka on drums for the encore, BUT this DVD has those two in some sweet bonus footage of a jamming a little "Smokestack Lightning" with Arthur in an intimate little rehearsal space. This is one for the archives folks! It took a bit of sleuthing, but it was worth every minute to track down this treasure. The link above (FULL LIVE VIDEO) goes into more detail on the personnell and a first-hand review of this show. And they also mention like I do how THIS show is worlds better than the officially released "Royal Festival Hall" DVD. A shame the pro cameras weren't there to capture THIS night instead, but this is a MORE than watchable live show video that's well-shot indeed and we should be forever grateful to the dedicated fan who recorded this legendary gig. I can see repeated viewings of this well into the future.

Michael Stuart Ware was the drummer for Love from 1966-1968. He wrote "Pegasus Epitaph" about his experience in the band and the music industry in general. This differs from the "Forever Changes" book in that it's a book all from someone with FIRST-HAND experience in the band. I like Michael's style of writing, he's got a great, sort of natural flow to his writing, and he does a good job in taking you back in time to the 60's... Jesus, working with Arthur sounded like a real pain in the ass... Hard to believe that someone who wrote something as mind-blowingly beautiful, eloquent and timeless as Forever Changes had so many demons... Well, I guess a lot of genius artists are like that. If you love LOVE as much as I do and insist on gobbling up any worthy reading on the band like myself, then I highly recommend adding this to your reading list. So far it's the only book I'm aware of written solely by an actual member of the band.

On a more somber Love note, we lost a great this past year. You've likely read my post praising Love's "Four Sail," especially the guitarist on that record, the great Jay Donnellan and his acidic-freakout guitar solo on the song "August," it truly elevates your being and leaves you befuddled and speechless afterwards. ALL his guitar is TOP on Four Sail, without him the album simply would NOT be the same. We lost that great psych-guitar wizard this past year. I had tried to secure an interview with Jay a few years back but was informed by family that he was in an assisted living home at the time. I would have loved to have had a convo and picked his brain about Four Sail. Jay, I hope you're shredding those leads up in the great beyond, you will live on forever through your music. Click the image below for the best article you'll read on Jay Donnellan, from Melody Maker, 1973.

Wildfire - Smokin' (1970)
If you're just looking for some killer HARD rock with RIPPING guitar work, this album is where it's at. These guys hailed from Austin, TX and Laguna Beach, CA. Apparently, they played LOUD and their massive Quilter amplifiers are what gave them their sound, built specially for them in Pat Quilter's garage. This album was recorded at Sonobeat Records in Austin, TX, produced & engineered by Bill Josey Sr. Hey, wonder if they ever ran into the Cold Sun crew? Would've been right around the same time-frame. This record has been criticized for its songwriting/lyrics, but I think they're just fine for what this is. A great record to put on an just rock out with loads of killer fuzz guitar leads that sound so tasty BLASTING out of your speakers. Yeah, play this one LOUD! The opener, "Stars In The Sky" is my favorite track off the record. Stinging fuzz guitar throughout with heavy, pounding drums. Simplistic lyrics, but I think they work nicely and convey a cool message, dare I say 'life-guiding,' a pondering of life then a sort of ode to all to just be fucking cool... to look at the beauty in things. Simple, but effective. The first handful of songs are my favorites and "Down To Earth" is another great one - a bit more mellow than the opener, but still rocks pretty hard. Simple lyrics, sure, but like I said before, they work for what this is. You'd have to be a total snob not to take at least SOME enjoyment out of this album. And believe me, I've been called a music snob on more than one occasion in my life! "Free" is another standout for me - starting in typical Wildfire fashion w/Grand Funk-style heavy jamming, but then it breaks into this gorgeous piece a little over a minute and twenty secs in with some acoustic guitars and sounds of birds chirping, ya know I always love a bit of contrast like this. I have the 2006 reissue on cd, self-released by the band themselves, which is sourced from an 'open reel dub' of the master tapes which were apparently lost years ago. This discs sounds plenty good to my ears. Snag it if ya don't have it and CRANK IT!!!

Krokodil - Invisible World (1971)
Here we've got a Swiss band that started in 1969, apparently getting their name from their guitarist who kept a young crocodile as a pet! Their first couple of records are a more bluesy/garagey sound, still great records, but this one is my favorite as they get bit more tripped-out and experimental, diving into the psych waters and other-worldly for our listening pleasure. The album opens with one of the band's best - "Lady of Attraction," effect-laden vocals from Walty Anselmo, flute, and some harmonica in there. Yes, harmonica is not abandoned from the band's earlier bluesy output, but they do it tastefully and I think it workss quite nicely and fits the mood. "Looking At Time" is a lengthy 14-minute track, but it does not bore and I never found myself reaching for the skip button. It's done nicely with a contrast of acoustic/electric guitar combo and some tasty leads, floaty Gilmore-esque leads at one point, trippy/contemplative lyrics.. An excellent track indeed. Also, possibly my favorite on here is the 15+ minute "Odyssey In Om," I highly suggest dimming all the lights, lighting up the lava lamp and listening intently without distraction to this one as it gets quite heady my friends; loads of tripped-out sitar, background sounds coming from all-around, and again that lovely flute... Doesn't flute work so nicely in psych music when done properly? "Odyssey In Om" also includes a heady little spoken word piece close to 10-minutes in that gives vibes of Group 1850 'Agemo's' era, yes this song has all a head could ever ask for! This record makes you feel like you're in another land, perhaps that freaky album cover at times... then the inside gatefold at other times where the band is all sitting with multiple candles lit in a somber-looking foresty cemetery. Anway, no great digital version exist, so The Poodle at Ultimate Psychedelic Vinyl HQ transferred an original M- pressing so we can all hear this gem how it was meant to be heard. Hi-Res scans of the brilliant album artwork also included! Grab it here: Krokodil - An Invisible World Revealed (1971) [German Original]

Twink - Think Pink (1970)
This is one that I can't believe flew under my radar for so many years. Twink was no stranger to psych-rock, he was in the band Tomorrow of "My White Bicycle" fame among others, he also played drums on a few tracks off the Pretty Things "SF Sorrow." Oh, his name comes from a brand of hair used for perms, referencing Twink's curly hair and not the slang used for a slim, fem-boy type of male! It's 2022, and this album was released in 1970, slang has changed a bit! This one was recorded in '69, released in '70 and features a recognizable crew including the great Viv Prince from the Pretty Things on "Mexican Grass War," Mick Farren from the Deviants doing some vocals, who also produced the record, and even Steve Peregrin of T-Rex! The album opens with an acid-freakout sound collage "The Coming Of The Other One," this could be seen as a bit goofy and self-indulging upon first listen, but it sets the mood for the killer songs laden with acid-guitar that make this album a joy for all heads from all around the globe. Next up is my favorite track on this record and what initially drew me in - "Ten Thousand Words In A Cardboard Box" - dark-acidic lyrics with loads of delicious, unrelenting fuzz guitar accompanied by pounding drums that are nice and up front in the mix. Yes, this is heady, dark psych my friends... Here we have English psych that is not about auntie's tea-sipping and scarf-knitting, this is stuff you wouldn't blast around old gam-mah." "Tiptoe On The Highest Hill" is another big favorite of mine on here; heady, sort of contemplative big-picture lyrics, and a hazy-stoned vibe throughout. Starts with the mellow sort of hazy-stoned vibe I mentioned, then a couple minutes in some killer swirling fuzz guitar comes in and out of the mix, this is like the coming-down of an acid-trip, sitting on a hill and realizing how small you are and contemplating life, the universe and all of its creations. The two songs I mention are by far the best that grace the record, but the rest is no slouch either. "Fluid" is a great instrumental, again with some great experimental acid-guitar, dual guitars in fact in each channel, really dig this one. "Rock & Roll The Joint" is another great instrumental with lots of fuzzed-out wah guitar and feedback. "Three Little Piggies" is really the only dud on here, a total unnecessary, goofy throwaway that should have been saved for the 'bonus' outtakes track on a cd reissue decades into the future or something! The first cd reissue from 1991 on World Wide Records is the one you want to go for as far as excellent sound quality.

The Travel Agency - s/t (1968)
Formed in San Francisco, this group released their one and only record on Viva in '68. Now, the album cover might be deceiving to say the least. I could see being in a record shop on Haight St. back during this time and without a doubt thinking this could be something that's going to be so tripped-out that I might need to make a night out of it, BUT that's not the case here. With that being said, there's still a great album that has gone fairly under the radar as far as I can tell. It's more of a pop-rock album, but there's some tinges of psych peppered in here and there. The first few tracks are the best, and the album opens with a haunting, moody keyboard intro with tripped-out sound effects on "What's A Man," before launching into a killer guitar riff. Great anti-war lyrics that are sadly still quite relevant. They don't mince words on the lyrics here - "we've got to fight them while they're small, or they're disease will soon be spreading, and then we then we'll never kill them all." Whoa! Bit of a Beatles Revolver-era flavor in spots here, including "Sorry You Were Born," with its great message of 'just find something that you can do, something that you enjoy will do.' A simple sort of life-guiding message that many of our fellow talking apes should start following! "Cadillac George" is a fun little goofy tune, great for anyone who enjoys brain-massaging fuzz! "Lonely Seabird" is probably my favorite on here, and the most PSYCHEDELIC, probably the one TRUE psych song on the entire album. A breezy, floaty, mesmerizing piece of psych that in my opinion stands up with some of the best breezy/light psych of the time. "So Much Love" is a nicely done little acoustic piece, more despair than the title would lead you to believe. "Make Love" is rather cheesy I must admit, but the only one that's a sort of throw away on here in my opinion. No other tracks stand up to the first handful, but I dig "I'm Not Dead," it's catchy and enjoyable, again with a sort of Beatles flavor. "She Understands" is another very catchy, enjoyable song that stands out side from the creme de' la creme of the first side. "Come To Me" is also another great pop track. Come to think of it, I think a few songs on side one outshine things on this record so much that it leaves much of the rest of it unappreciated. They should have spread these songs out differently perhaps! As per usual, with many of these old 60's records, a quality digital reissue has yet to see the light of day, but the great ThePoodleBites at UPV has ripped us a nice mint copy for our listening and archival pleasure. Full hi-res scans and all here: The Travel Agency - self-titled (1968) [US Original]

West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - Part One (1968)
After having only owned the Sundazed reissue of the stereo debut of WCPAEB, I was delighted to see that the Poodle over at UPV ripped us a white label promo of an original MONO pressing! For a while this was my favorite WCPAEB album, but in recent years I've come to enjoy what are what I feel their more heady output, that being Vol. 2 and Vol. 3. But I still love this record. This one always made me feel like I'm on a desert trip or something, just the feeling it gives me. It's like this breezy sort of vibe. It's mellow and heady, gets plenty weird... They cover Zappa's "Help I'm A Rock," and while not as far-out at Mr. Zappa's original, I still quite enjoy it. This tripped-out 'breezy' vibe I speak of is most prevalent on tracks like "Shifting Sands" and "Transparent Day." "Will You Walk With Me" is another one in this vein, a beautiful piece with some violin and chimes. I won't go too detailed in my review of the music here b/c I have reviewed it in past issues of Psych Trail Mix, back in the days of the actual print copies, but I had to get this review in to recommend the punchier mono mix here provided by the great/talented Poodle, see the link with his review to see the details of actual differences between the mono and stereo versions, full hi-res scans too, with an album cover like that, those are essential! The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - Part One (1967) [Mono Mix]

Nurt - s/t (1970)
This is a band from Poland, they've been described as prog-rock, but I think that sort of does a disservice to their sound. I'd equate it more to hard-rock with psych elements peppered throughout, some jazz elements as well. Guitarist is incredibly talented and one of the main draws of the album, and ya gotta love that fuzz bass! "Synowie Nocy" (English translation: Sons of The Night) is one of my favorite songs off the album - some groovy wah guitar jamming, then it breaks into some tasty sitar that sends you to liftoff. That's one of the things I really dig about this album is its diversity in that it can rock hard, then it has some beautiful mellow pieces as a contrast, it all blends quite nicely. "Holograficzne Widmo" (English translation: "Holographic Spectre") - just killer winding, wah guitar work and that drummer really shines, trippy effects peppered in with a few mood changes throughout the song, certainly a trip I must say! The closer, the 9-minute epic "Syn Strachu" (English translastion: Son of Fear) is another highlight - some tasteful trumpet throughout, which actually works quice nicely, again with all the time-changes throughout, these guy knew their craft and were not novice by any means. Not a dud on here really, super enjoyable start to finish. You'll see a few different reissues of this, but the one you want is the cd on Yesterday from 2003, the sound quality clearly outshines all other relases.

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