Blog Archive

Tuesday, 29 March 2016


Laadeees an Genelmen……….Strange Things Are Happening are proud to present the (almost) return of the possibly world famous “Stuff You Can Download For Nowt From Bandcamp” Blog post (we really need a new title for this!!!!!). What we have done is round up the recent FREE STUFF TO DOWNLOAD Facebook posts and put them here, because with all the noise Facebook generates it is easy to miss things……….plus we have found a couple of groovy new downloads we also want to point you towards. 

Prana Crafter is the recording/performing pseudonym of Psych Folk guitarist William Sol. Recorded at around the same time as the tracks that made up Prana Crafter's album Rapture Of Planes, a five track EP of meditative guitar pieces, the Opel Crown Transmissions EP has been made available as a "name your price" download. Mixing together beautiful, delicate songs that have been compared to the early 60s output from Elektra and Vanguard along with more experimental/improvised, shamanic guitar overload, lo-fi Psych Rock excursions, the Rapture Of Planes album was released last year on Deep Water Acres to wide critical acclaim (read our review on Strange Things here The tracks from the EP were originally intended for the next Prana Crafter record, however Will is now working on blending the longer instrumentals with the 'songs' for the next album ( Popol Vuh meets Donovan or Neil Young if Crazy Horse was made up of the Cosmic Jokers crew has been mentioned........we wait with baited breath), so he has released these tracks for your delight and delectation. Available from the Prana Crafter Bandcamp page here and Rapture Of Planes is still available from both the Deep Water Acres and Sunrise Ocean Bender web stores.

Thee Psychedelicatessen’s favourite Russian Psych Rock band Cosmic Letdown's own imprint Opium Eyes have released the second Polska Radio One album, Cold Sun, as a very limited CD run of 50 copies. The album is also available as a free download so you can try before you

The whole of Polska Radio One's back catalogue is available as FREE "name your price" downloads from their Bandcamp site at  We absolutely recommend that you check these beauties's mind blowing stuff kidz.

Canadian purveyors of fine audio curios Arachnidiscs Recordings (their tagline "Music For And By Weirdos") have released the seventh Heavy Moon album since 2006, fittingly titled Heavy Moon 7.  Inspired by Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, Harmonia and Black Sabbath, Heavy Moon is a heavy psych/Kosmic jam studio side project of Jakob Rehlinger of Toronto-based improvisational space-rockers Moonwood. We will have a full review on Strange Things very soon. To celebrate this release all the previous six Heavy Moon albums have been made available as "name your price" downloads at, check ‘em out Spaceheads.

New from UK label HeviSikeRecords is a compilation of………errrr……..Heavy Psych. Bold As Love II has cuts from Elevators To The Grateful Sky, Lightsabres, Bright Curse, Desert Suns, Grifter, Dead Feathers, Astrodome, Stubb and Wired Mind………………..go to the HeviSike Bandcamp page for a “name your price” download. It’s a great little label sampler which will hopefully turn you PsychHeads on, dig it People.

And finally………a cool little 3 tracker from Brighton band The Decadent Dayze of Garage/Psych with ‘Walter (Way To Go)’ the standout track from a bunch of Psych infused punky, energetic tunes. Download These Are Decadent Dayze from their Bandcamp page and “name your price”.

Monday, 28 March 2016


Strange things are happening in Italy……..from that county’s thriving psychedelic scene come Menimals, a force of nature exploring the mysteries of chaos and creation. Shrouded in an enigmatic cloak of inscrutability, the four musicians are the sonic representation of the cosmic beauty and symmetry embodied in the Platonic solids, the classical elements of alchemy, and the symbolic animal spirits whose masks they wear:

The Rat: Drums/Hexahedron/Earth
The most stable element, the layer on which the other instruments stand.

The Chimera: Bass and Additional Guitar/Icosahedron/Water
Is complementary to earth and is the most mobile element.

The Griphon: Guitar and Production/Octahedron/Air
The water lies on the earth, the air lies in the surface of the water. Constantly flies between melody and noise.

Doctor Forge: Voice/Tetrahedron/Man/Fire
The most mutable and unpredictable element. May be a spark or a blaze. It carries the light. It's the lantern in the dark that shows the way.

Menimals' debut album is "a symphony of solids in five movements", a reference to the five shapes that make up the Platonic Solids and from which each of the Menimals was conceived. Behind the masks, myths and magic is a band whose improvisational investigation of Krautrock with strong ambient influences reflects an experimental worldview that reveals itself in the lyrics, visual aesthetic, and in the hypnotic live performances which are not just concerts but cinematic events in which they reconnect with the mysticism of nature. Breaking the boundary between men and animals, they interact with the audience through the psychedelia of their soundscapes. Live performances are rare due to the frail state of Dr Forge's health and the fact that he lives secluded upon another continent, North America, while his creatures toil in the hills of Northern Italy. This is quite a remarkable debut album blending together the dark ambience of experimental Psychedelia, free Jazz and Trip Hop as Dr Forge, with his scorched lungs and frail bones, weaves an archetypal story of the hero's journey through the five shapes related to the elemental root symbolized by each of the characters of Menimals.

From the known to the unknown, each unknown becomes a familiar -- a spirit-creature of mysticism serving as spy and companion and jester. In the music, the listener is given both solace and a challenge to transcend”. A looping, double bass line introduces ‘In This Unforgiving Heat’ as the Menimals' debut album opens with a track not unlike Barry Adamson’s future noir imaginary soundtracks. A dark trip hop flavoured track not a million miles away from the shadowy, bluesy ambience of Portishead, blending Middle Eastern motifs with a heady jazz vibe…………it’s psychedelic, but not in a conventional way. The sinister, ethereal Future Jazz feel of ‘In This Unforgiving Heat’ spills over into ‘Dodecahedron, The Window Sphere’……..again a track that evokes Portishead at their most experimental. Imagine if the whole 90s Trip Hop scene had been fuelled on powerful hallucinogens and not big blunts then you may possibly get a handle where Menimals are coming from on these two strange but beautiful opening tracks. There is a change of pace and atmosphere as ‘Tetrahedron’ is probably the most “conventional” Psych Rock track on the album and is a slow burning ethereal swirl of a song which builds and builds until sparking into a high octane flame-out of scorching guitar noise. ‘Transition From A Cube To The Octahedron’ is a dark psychedelic masterpiece…………………somewhat akin to the tracks Bill Laswell recorded with William Burroughs in the mid 80s, Dr Forge’s cracked, vocal gravel whispering spoken text over an minimalistic soundscape of guitar, abstract white noise and sparse percussion serves to offer up a rationale of knowing in an increasingly convoluted world. Closing with ‘Bird On The Wing As A Hinge’, another beautifully constructed soundscape of pulsing bass, synth drone and delicate guitar figures, although experimental in structure, melody is never sacrificed as Menimals open a gate through which Doctor Forge and the creatures he engineered deliver their luminous messages of myth and truth to the world. Although not redefining the genre, Menimals are certainly pushing hard at its edges with their unique style of mystic multi-media at a time where psychedelic music is in danger of becoming very conservative, taking any preconceived notion of what modern psychedelia has evolved into and tipping it on its head. If there is such a thing as a psychedelic rule book, Menimals have torn it to shreds after scribbling all over the pages. It takes a few listens for the majesty of this record to really hit home but for the more inquisitive Psychonaut spending time in Menimals world of magic and mystery is a must.

The Menimals debut album is another one of Riot Season’s occasional forays into the psychedelic realm…………………….released on 9th April 2016 and available in a super limited edition run of only 75 copies on black vinyl c/w insert plus a bonus CDr of the album when ordered directly from Riot Season. Available to pre-order from either the RiotSeason online store or their Bandcamp page at The CDr along with a digital download of the album are both available separately from the same sources.

Friday, 25 March 2016

INTERKOSMOS – HYPNOTIZER (Sulatron Records CD, D/L, Pancromatic Records LP).

Finally receiving a fully mastered release on CD eight years after recording, Hypnotizer by kosmik kowboys Interkosmos is now available from Sulatron Records………and it’s been well worth the wait. Recorded as a series of studio jams with Electric Moon alumni Sula Bassana and Pablo Carneval along with Rip Kc guitarist Sergio Ceballos, after a tiny run of CDr’s sold out almost immediately Hypnotizer was originally only available as a download from Bandcamp and the netlabel Clinical Archives………………fast forward to 2016 and the album has been given a well-deserved official release (it’s a far too good a record to languish in the Sulatron vaults). Mixed by Sula Bassana and mastered by krautrock legend and regular Electric Moon studio wizard Eroc, with new artwork from Komet Lulu and a bonus live track, Hypnotiser is another gem in the Sulatron canon of great releases.

From experience, you know that you can trust Sulatron for quality Psychedelic Rock/Spacerock/Krautrock and Hypnotizer by Interkosmos does not disappoint. It’s an album of sprawling space sounds that tell stories of far galaxies and the goto soundtrack for a journey to the far out vastnesses of the inner cosmos. Less “heavy” than the recent releases from Sulatron, this is a far more psychedelic record where Interkosmos, as if linked by telekinetic energy, drift with the cosmic tides as a single entity. The six original tracks from Hypnotizer are all languid, swirly Acid Rock meditations that ebb and flow , buffeted by solar winds………glacial guitar licks hang suspended while a unobtrusive bass and drums propel the good starship Interkosmos on it’s journey to the stars. From the opening trackLift Off’, this record is a total trip and the work of three skilled musicians who push and prod in thrilling directions until the music fuses single instruments into each other creating a cosmic oneness as the whole album melds together in a near seamless flow of musical consciousness. The bonus live track, ‘Samphonic Trip’, is by the second line up of Interkosmos which saw Sula Bassana take over guitar duties when Sergio Ceballos returned to Spain …………….this track has more in common with the psychedelic squall of cosmic jammers Electric Moon with heavy riffing and swirling wah-wah guitar underpinned by throbbing bass and thunderous drums pushing the track to an explosive ending. Break out the bong Spaceheads and get yer ears round this truly fantastic record.

The new version of Hypnotizer is out now on Sulatron Records and is available as both a CD and a download. You can get yer paws on the CD (limited edition of 500 copies) at the Sulatron online store and the download is available from the Interkosmos Bandcamp page at There will also be a vinyl release for this record as the Norwegian label Pancromatic will release it as double vinyl (limited to 300 on marbled wax and 300 on black wax) sometime in April. Clear Spot will be distributing the album in Europe so we suggest you check their website for details.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

JUJU – JUJU (Sunrise Ocean Bender LP, D/L)

Image of JuJu
JuJu is the latest incarnation of Sicily-based Gioele Valenti, who has previously recorded under the name Herself several records of apocalyptic folk lo-fi songs and was also a member of the Lay Llamas for the recording and touring of their Ostro album. His most recent release as Herself was the Gleaming EP, a fantastic collaboration with the Laissez Fairs (the Las Vegas based maximum Mod/Psych band formed by John Fallon ex of the legendary Irish/American 80s Psych band The Steppes), read the Strange Things Are Happening review here. His new project, released by Sunrise Ocean Bender, is an excursion into the Psych Magik of West African rhythmic psychedelia, ancient myths and Mediterranean neo-paganism. Mixing African grooves with distorted Psych Rock, the new JuJu release is a concept album of sorts, telling the story of  an on-going exodus from Africa that more often than not ends in ignored tragedies at sea, ‘a total defeat for humanity.’ Inspired by sources of Earth magic and soil secrets, JuJu strives to turn that defeat into a celebration of spirit and modern psychedelia…….. An endless thought to the forgotten of the sea……… We Are You.

This is a cyclical tale, beginning with the horrors of war and chaos that leads to a mass refugee flight to the coast and lost souls taking their chances with perilous boat journeys (which ultimately ends in disaster). The story goes full circle with even more poor souls needing to escape war and famine in a never ending cycle of despair as even more are lost to the sea. The album opens with ‘Samael’ (who is an Angel from Talmudic lore that brings death and destruction……….thank you Google) which has a pulsing bass heavy AfroPsych groove, a sound not unlike the mighty Goat's shamanistic rituals, before shifting up a gear and easing into the driving krautrocker 'We Spit On Yer Grave' who’s relentless motrik beat and swirling, distorted guitars reminiscent of TOY’s  Neu! influenced tunes. The rest of the record is equally impressive as the tale takes sail on the waters of the Mediterranean with the propulsive ‘Stars And Sea’ and ‘Sunrise Ocean’ linked together by the mournful piano and found sound sketch ‘Dance With The Fish’. This theme of desolation is continued with ‘Lost’ which starts with haunting piano and guitar before exploding into a full on contorted Psych Rock wig out of fuzzed out guitars and distorted voices. The whole thing then returns back to the start and we begin the whole journey again with the heavy fuzz rock AfroPsych of ‘Bring ‘Em War’……….JuJu is a poignant story of hope and loss, which we suspect has an element of personal reflection, with Gioele’s home of Sicily being one of the main refugee routes into Europe from West Africa, and wonderful blend of Psychedelia mixed with Afrobeat that is well worth spending time with......another great SOB release.

Limited to 250 copies on Orange Crush vinyl, JuJu is due for release on 6th May 2016 and will be available to pre-order from 6th April 2016 from the Sunrise OceanBender web store (the album will be distributed in N.A. by Cobraside and in Europe by Clear Spot). JuJu will also available as a digital download at The Herself and The Laissez Fairs five track EP, Gleaming, is still available on CD from the Herself Bandcamp page here

Tuesday, 15 March 2016


Compiled from two previous digital only Electric Magic records releases (Status Flux and Moonstruck), The Hermit is the first LP from Surya Kris Peters. This is the solo project of Christian Peters, main brain of Samsara Blues Experiment and unlike the heavy Stoner Rock/Psychedelic Blues vibe of that band this is way more introspective, contemplative and evocative collection of music inspired by Krautrock, meditative Indian music and the sounds that soundtracked his earliest musical memories. Built on layers of instruments including various synthesizers, Fender Rhodes, electric organ, rhythm machines and electric and acoustic guitars along with more traditional/esoteric instrumentation including Irish bouzouki, sitar, harp, reed organ, gong, Tibetan singing bowl and bodhran, The Hermit is an album of eight aural explorations that invoke the early days of electronic music and the kind records that Virgin Records put out in their formative years along with the classic 1970s releases from Brain/Ohr records, to which Surya Kris Peters adds his own perspective creating warm, lush soundscapes that are both rooted to the mystery and magic of Mother Earth and from far beyond the stars.

Simply put, this is music for the higher spheres. The album opener, ‘Eremitage’ (from the Status Flux album), is a far out, Far East trip of drones, synth noise and tabla that explores the same sound space as 1970s German artists such as Popol Vuh and Klaus Schulze. Track two, ‘Ragamati’, continues in the same vain with the warm tones of a Fender Rhodes working in harmony with spiralling synthesizers. The whole album has been beautifully sequenced as tracks ebb and flow from Eastern flavoured tunes, through folk melodies, the beautiful ambience of the celestial ‘Snow Feather’, the oriental vibes of ‘Chandra Luna’(the stand out track on Moonstruck) to the gentle folk guitar of ‘La Morrina’. It’s a record that takes in influences from a range of artists such as French synthesizer drone-minimalist Eliane Radigue, 1970s Krautrock-pioneers Tangerine Dream, Cluster, Ash Ra Tempel and the previously mentioned Popol Vuh and Klaus Schulze, sounds from the Far East from the likes of Osamu Kitajima, Tomita and Ananda Shankar and early 70s British Prog/Experimental musicians such as Fripp & Eno, Mike Oldfield, Tim Blake and Steve Hillage but without being an exercise in nostalgia………it is a record that harks back to an era of ground breaking sonic experimentation but with a feel that is distinctly contemporary. The Hermit is a record of rare beauty which caught our ear immediately and a wonderful introduction to the music of Surya Kris Peters.

Due for release on 15th April 2016 on Electric Magic Records and distributed by World In Sound records, The Hermit is available to pre-order from the Electric Magic online shop from 16/3/16. Available in a limited edition run of 100 copies on white vinyl with silk screened artwork and handwritten labels………not so much an album but true work of art and soon a collectors item!


Saturday, 12 March 2016


Plastic Crimewave - He’s a guy, he’s a band, he’s a multi-coloured forward-thinking arthole of Tardis Dementions. He’s a Futuretro freak, he’s a sibilant gas, he’s a rock’n roll-a-holic” and who are we to disagree the Arch Drude, Julian Cope……..writer, artist, creator of the beloved psychedelic magazine Galactic Zoo Dossier, musician and arguably the Godfather of the current fertile Chicago Psych scene, Plastic Crimewave (aka Steve Krakow) has been making seriously far out records for the best part of 20 yrs. His previous band Plastic Crimewave Sound built up a massive cult following, releasing several critically acclaimed albums and touring with Comets on Fire, Acid Mothers Temple, and Oneida amongst others before disbanding. Plastic Crimewave Syndicate, led by Plastic Crimewave on guitar and vocals with bassist Anjru Kettering, formerly of windy city acid-rawk gods the Great Society Mind Destroyers; Dawn Aquarius on synth, who was part of Herbcraft and Cursillistas, Brainshadows and Oracle Offering; and Jose Bernal, who has pounded the skins for Bionic Cavemen and Dead Feathers as well, have been active since 2012 playing what can only be described as “Cosmik-Free-Punk” . Following their 2013 album The Golden Cage, gigs opening for Loop, Hawkwind and also playing with newer Psych bands like Woods, Purling Hiss and Quilt, the band have returned with a new album of pulverising Psych Rock which is a fusion of Chaos Magic, astral projection and sonic attack. "Now's the time to drink deeply from the grail of Psych, for its bearers, Plastic Crimewave Syndicate, are among us once more”.

Plastic Crimewave Syndicate’s self-titled second album comprises of six heavy and transcendental compositions which take inspiration from the relentless riffing of early Loop, the Kosmic Punk chaos of Chrome and Guru Guru and the 70s Space Rock adventures Hawkwind as they explore the outer dimensions of their sound. It’s an intense 40 minute trip which harks back to the best leftfield, underground Psychedelic Rock from the 70’s and 80’s, full of pounding drums, skull crushing heavy bass, swooping, bubbling synths and PC’s squalling, fuzzed out and distorted guitar that create a barrage of dense, thundering grooves and full on freak outs that will blow your mind and melt your face. Blasting off towards distant galaxies, the record opens with the riff heavy groove of ‘God of Lions’ which sounds like Loop and Chrome meeting in deep space and the rest of the album continues in the same vain. The driving motrik pulse and nimble bass lines that underpin swirling sonic brutality of ‘Envisioner’ give the track the feel of a Punk Hawkwind, a beautiful noise that is simultaneously both ferocious and mind expanding in equal proportions. The closing track, the 10 minuteVoid of Eternity’, is destined to be a stoner classic……….a spliff odyssey so dense and unremitting it sucks all the sweet smelling vapour out of the room as you dissolve into your sofa, stoned immaculate. This is certainly one of the best Heavy Psych/Stoner Rock albums we have heard for a while and certainly one for all you children of the bong.

Plastic Crimewave Syndicate has been released, with an eye for authentic 70’s/80’s detail, on black, blue splatter vinyl in an extra-heavy cardboard sleeve by the Birmingham,UK label Swordfish, also home to luminaries like Roky Erickson, Sky Saxon and YHW13 (we have been buying records in their store for around 25 years and have just sussed they ran a really cool boutique label….duh!). Limited to 300 copies, the album is available to buy from their Ebay site or alternatively if you live in the West Midlands area you can always pop into the shop in Brum and get a copy directly. At time of writing there is no US distribution deal but keep ‘em peeled People as there is meant to be one in the pipeline, however you can get a digital download from the Plastic Crimewave Syndicate from their Bandcamp page and we would not be surprised if some of the cooler Chicago record stores are carrying a few copies. Galactic Zoo Dossier is published by Drag City and is available from their webstore here


Friday, 11 March 2016


Currently playing with LA based Space Rock trio EFG, up to now guitarist Imaad Wasif has had quite an interesting and varied career on the fringes of the US Alt Rock scene…..amongst other projects, he was previously a member of The Folk Implosion, Alaska!, part of the Yeah, Yeah, Yeah’s touring band and is one half of the experimental duo Acid, who’s album Science Fiction With Acid has been described as “Prince in a CIA mind control experiment”. He has also recorded some very cool solo albums that combines both elements of Psychedelic Folk and Psych Rock and his second studio album Strange Hexes, which came out as a self-release in 2008, belongs to the lost gems of contemporary Psychedelic Rock music. Following his more introspective first self-titled solo album (released in 2006 on Kill Rock Stars) which featured minimal, acoustic songs reminiscent of Skip Spence’s Oar and Syd Barrett’s Opel, Strange Hexes was a “tense, trippy collection of songs that become fiercely emotional explorations” and “unbelievably intense with sparkling, raga-influenced guitar and a mystic bent” which unfortunately dropped right off the radar. It has always been a mystery why this fantastic record disappeared without trace with only a few Psych Rock heads ever hearing it……………….however the world has been put to right and German Psychedelic/Prog Rock label World In Sound are giving Strange Hexes the reissue treatment with a new official European CD/LP release.

Recorded with bass player Bobb Bruno (now part of Best Coast with Bethany Cosentino) and drummer Adam Garcia under the name Imaad Wasif with Two Part Beast, Strange Hexes traces a vein from late ‘60s West Coat Acid Rock to the more heavy, post-psychedelic, early 70s American guitar bands such as Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Taking on board the same 60s/70s Psych Rock influences as Dead Meadow, Black Mountain, Golden Void and Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound, this record switches between sonic bliss and bone-breaking intensity with Wasif playing the part of both fragile shamanic poet and wailing guitar God………….there are some seriously great tracks here. ‘Unveiling’ is an absolute face melter of a track, incorporating Eastern modal tunings and drones slowly unfolding into a blistering guitar workout. Of the other great songs, ‘Halcyon’ has a cool Blues vibe and ‘Spell’ is a really beautiful track, both tracks having echoes of Jeff Buckley’s song structures. The standout track has to be ‘Seventh Sign, which on the albums initial release was described as “a nearly perfectly crafted nightmare vision of Armageddon that hearkens back to the brooding post-psychedelia of Neil Young’s On the Beach”. Criminally ignored back in 2008, Strange Hexes is well worth getting acquainted with.

Due for release 15/4/16 on World In Sound, Strange Hexes will be available on vinyl LP and CD with both formats including liner notes and rare photos. Available soon from the World In Sound online store and groovy record shops.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

CIVILIAN ZEN – TELL LIE VISION Deluxe Remastered/Expanded Version (D/L).

Recently landing in our inbox is the newly remastered/expanded version of the 2014 concept album Tell Lie Vision from festival favourites Civilian Zen ….. brought up on the dark Sci-Fi of J.G. Ballard and Moorcock, the bleak comic book writing of Alan Moore and the late 70s Bob Calvert fronted line up of Hawkwind, one of the things us Brits do really well is Post Punk dystopian Space Rock……

Mixing up powerful, driving Space Rock with more translucent, ambient interludes of synth wash, found sound and spoken word (spaceship Zen has its own on board poet), Tell Lie Vision really can’t escape the Hawkwind comparisons. However it’s not the classic early 70s classic line up that everyone cops Space Rock grooves from but the, in our mind, more interesting, lyrically complex version of the band with Bob Calvert, where his vision lead the band away from epic space journeys, burning suns and exploding stars into a more paranoid future of State surveillance, urban breakdown, terror threats and where space travel is a bit shit. This is a totally intriguing album of proggy Space Rock is a must listen for all you Hawkfans and Spaceheads out there. The Deluxe version comes with almost a full album’s worth of extended Dub remixes for the crusty dreads to shake their thang to and get their space skank on at this summer’s psychedelic festivals. Although the actual album is really good, the remixes are fantastic…….very much in the style of modern Dub masters such as The Rootsman, Alpha & Omega, The Bush Chemists, Disciples, The Orb and Dreadzone…….and very psychedelic (we have always thought that Dub is Jamaican psychedelic music). Tell Lie Vision is surly a record made by musicians seriously influenced by the Post Punk alternative scene of the late 70s/early 80s where Space Rock and Dub could happily co-exist in the same headspace. Break out the bong kidz.

The Deluxe remastered/expanded reissue of Tell Lie Vision is available as a digital download from the Civilian Zen Bandcamp page at . Civilian Zen will no doubt appearing at some mind altering, cosmic freakout festival somewhere near you sometime this year.


Tuesday, 8 March 2016

THE LAISSEZ FAIRS – THE LAISSEZ FAIRS (Autumn 66 Records CDr, D/L). JOHN FALLON – AFTERWORD (Autumn 66 Records CDr, D/L). O’s – ARE WE HERE? (Do It Right! Records CDr, D/L).

Strange things are happening in Las Vegas……………already a hyper-surreal city where history is bent into strange shapes for chubby fingered gamblers in velour leisure suits and fuelled on burgers and pills, Elvis made his last stand…….. Like electric acid dandies in the underworld, sixties obsessives The Laissez Fairs have taken their British Mod/Freakbeat/Psych influences Stateside and dropped Swinging London right into Sin City, creating an alternative universe where Tomorrow have a residency at The Colosseum and Granny Takes A Trip have opened a branch on the Strip……fab gear and clothing in Las Vegas. Fronted by John Fallon (ex of The Steppes) and studio addict Joe Lawless, The Laissez Fairs are part of a small Vegas neo-psychedelic scene inspired by the sounds of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks and Pink Floyd…………recently dropping in our inbox are three records from that scene that lovers of classic, essentially English, Psychedelic Pop are going to dig.

From The Laissez Fairs psychedelic sweet shoppe comes a recent album of kandy kolored pick ‘n’ mix psychedelia with attitude. Stylistically from the period around ’66/’67 when Mods started dropping acid and turning on (the high point of this scene must be the Small Faces lysergic odyssey Ogdens’s Nut Gone Flake) mixing pastoral psychedelia with slashing, aggressive guitars, this record mixes up a whole host of cool 60s sounds with a ton of pop smarts creating a really vibrant maximum Mod/Psych album. Full of the same textures that the Laissez Fairs brought to the Gleaming EP (their collaboration with Herself), essentially a studio construct with Fallon & Lawless playing the majority of the instruments between themselves with drummer Chris Glaser holding down the beat and David Whitt chipping in with the occasional Rickenbacker twelve-string, The Laissez Fairs debut album is a beautifully crafted record with an enormous depth of sound that evokes both the sweaty atmosphere of the Marquee Club and the more gentle vibes of a band “getting it together in the country”. Opening with the Pop Sike amphetamine rush of ‘He's Your Replacement’ (watch the video here), The Laissez Faires take a meandering journey through a kaleidoscopic Psych landscape which takes inspiration from early Pink Floyd/Syd Barrett (‘Crows Sing Loud’), Byrdsian jangle (‘Never Come Back ‘), baroque psychedelic pop (‘Spiral’) and whimsical pop tunes that would not sound out of place on a Robyn Hitchcock/Soft Boys album (‘Miss Six Foot Legs’) along with the more obvious Mod/Freakbeat influences. The standout track has to be the wonderful ‘Primrose Hill’ which has the feel of the late 60s Kinks before a surge of guitars push the track to a swirling psychedelic climax. If anyone has ever wondered what John Fallon was doing since The Steppes disbanded, then here is your answer……….he is still making fantastic 60s influenced music every bit as good as his work with The Steppes.

The Laissez Fairs debut album is available as a digital download from their bandcamp page at and from Amazon (where an Autumn 66 Records CDr is also available). Check it out kidz, it’s all your 60s Psychedelic Pop thrills in one handy package.

Also emanating from JohnFallon’s big electric expanding brain is his solo album, Afterword, which can be seen as a bridge between The Steppes and the Laissez Fairs. Released a little over 12 months ago, Afterword is a 12 track mixed bag of Steppes remixes (‘Picture Yourself Today; and ‘Theme For Steve McQueen’) a couple of live recordings with Rob Campanella of The Brian Jonestown Massacre (‘Master James’ and ‘No Names Yet For Henry’) and some cool new tunes with ‘For You Girl’, ‘Alone’, ‘(Live In A) Garbage Can’ and ‘Yes, You Are’ being particularly groovy (watch the video for ‘(Live In A) Garbage Can here). A stripped down, basic, far more guitar driven album than the Laissez Fairs record, Afterword is a squally Psychedelic Rock ‘n’ Roll album with heavy Paisley Underground, The Beatles, The Kinks, The Who, The Move, The Creation, early Bowie, T-Rex and '60s Dylan influences full of the ideas and sketches that would be fleshed out working with Joe Lawless on The Laissez Fairs wonderful debut album. Well worth checking out for both fans of The Steppes and of John Fallon’s newer material. Released by Autumn 66 Records as a CDr, the album is available from Amazon and as a digital download from John Fallon’s Bandcamp page at

From the same Vegas scene as The Laissez Fairs are the O’s. Formally known as the O’s Of Presidential, they now have a less ungainly name (although a lot harder to Google) but their music is still a fantastic blend of late ‘60s Beatles/Rolling Stones and classic Garage Rock. The O's debut album, Are We Here?, features eleven tripped out, retro flavoured tunes written by lead singer/guitarist Evan Donoghue and has been produced at the Lawless Noise and Visions Recording bunker by John Fallon and Joe Lawless (who just happens to be guitarist/keyboard player with the O’s as well as a member of the Laissez Fairs). Like the Laissez Fairs, the O’s are mining the same rich seams of classic 60s Psychedelic Pop but are also adding a huge slice of raw Nuggets style Garage Rock to the mix which is totally evident in the opener ‘Alright’. Psychedelic and catchy with a pop sensibility and scope, Are We Here? is a great modern Psych record which we recommend you check out………there are some great tunes here, ‘Mirroring Your Stare’ and ‘Sea Of Green’ in particular are two massive headswirlers that fans of S.F. Sorrow era Pretty Things are going to love. Released on Do It Right! Records, Are We Here? by the O’s is available to purchase now on either CDr or as a download from Amazon or CD Baby.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

LOVE – REEL TO REAL Deluxe Edition (High Moon Records LP, CD, D/L).

After a series of lacklustre records following their acknowledged absolute creative peak in 1967 with Forever Changes, by 1974, commercially, Love couldn’t get arrested (although on a personal level, with a turbulent and troubling lifestyle, Arthur Lee had no such problem). Serious drug issues had torn apart the line-up of the band that had recorded Forever Changes and what followed was a collection of records that rapidly declined in quality………………even the presence of Jimi Hendrix could not save False Start, a record that even the most ardent Love aficionados would consider a waste of vinyl. Reel to Real was the first official Love album in four years, and Arthur Lee recorded the album basically as a solo album with studio musicians after dismissing all previous members from the later incarnation of the band. It followed the release of Lee's solo album Vindicator in 1972 and two different Love albums that had been recorded but never released, which included Black Beauty which was shelved when Buffalo Records went out of business just prior to the album’s release. Arthur Lee had been knocking back the drinks in the last chance saloon when Canned Heat producer (amongst many other things) Skip Taylor, a long-time admirer of Lee, approached RSO Records, run by music entrepreneur Robert Stigwood (possibly best known for managing Cream and the Bee Gees), and convinced Stigwood to give the previously commercially unsuccessful Lee a two-album deal and the largest advance he would ever receive, followed by the biggest touring opportunity any incarnation of Love would ever embark on. Released in November 1974 Reel To Real was met with a mixture of indifference and hostility from the music press, however time has been kind and the mix of heavy funk, crunchy-guitar rock and soulful grooves has matured with age and this album deserves to be listened to with a fresh pair of ears. Available on CD/Digital for the first time and now back on LP after more than 40 years, Reel To Real gets a deluxe reissue from High Moon Records and it’s time to give this record a reappraisal. Having previously exhumed Black Beauty from the vaults it had been languishing in for nearly four decades and issuing it in sumptuous packaging, High Moon give Real To Reel the same treatment…….. this deluxe reissue features remastered audio from the original tapes, a 32-page booklet with an essay by Rolling Stone’s David Fricke plus a trove of candid, unpublished photos. Bonus tracks include 11 previously-unreleased tracks from the original sessions, including alternate takes and mixes, live-in-studio rehearsals, and 4 newly-discovered Arthur Lee originals.

Let’s be clear here right from the start, this is not another version of Forever Changes……it’s not meant to be. It could be argued that Forever Changes was a creative millstone around Arthur Lee’s neck, although a record of sheer pristine beauty that would comfortably be included in the top five of any list of the best 60s Psych albums, anything that Love recorded afterwards would always be compared to that classic album………….moving on was always going to be difficult, but the musical landscape had changed and Lee sought to distance himself from the sound of white psychedelic rock that had made him famous. This record is the sound of Arthur Lee rediscovering his black roots, recorded with the same studio band that played on Black Beauty (drummer Joe Blocker, guitarist Melvan Whittington, and bassist Robert Rozelle) who Lee referred to as “cats who can play funky and rock" along with a posse of session musicians, which included most notably guitarists Harvey Mandel and “Buzzy” Feiten along with the keyboardist Bobby Lyle. To a backdrop of bluesy guitars, a dynamic brass section, deep funk bass and clavinet, splashes of spacey synthesizer and sugar sweet female backing vocals, he brought his funkiest and most soulful collection of songs, digging deep  into the blues, soul, and rock grooves that first inspired him. Reel To Real channels the conscious funk of Curtis Mayfield, the revolutionary soul music of Sly & The Family Stone, the visceral energy of Stax Records and the searing blues rock of Jimi Hendrix to create a solid album of 1970s soulful funky rock that features some of Arthur Lee’s best recorded songs since the late 60s……………it’s no masterpiece but thoroughly enjoyable all the same. Side 1 of the album is an exhilarating journey through the 60s/early 70s Soul/Funk landscape taking in along the way a Al Green gospel vibe on ‘Time Is Like a River’, mellow, Southern fried New Orleans blues on ‘Stop the Music’ and on to ‘Who Are You, a full on early 70s, seriously funky Stevie Wonder style workout complete with a blistering but soulful guitar solo from ace sessioner "Buzzy" Feiten. Being a Memphis boy, Arthur Lee was no doubt influenced by the early sixties Stax sound and ‘Good Old Fashion Dream’ is his take on the Otis Redding, Booker T vibe. The one real psychedelic track on Reel To Real is ‘Which Witch Is Which?’, a woozy, somnambulistic slice of narcotic blues which has the feel of the early acid head Funkadelic tunes with Harvey Mandel’s guitar sound turned upside down and twisted inside out. Closing with the Sly & The Family Stone groove of ‘With a Little Energy’ the first side of Reel To Real is the blackest Arthur Lee ever sounded. Although Side 2 of the album sees a slight drop in quality, there are still some absolute gems……..a cover of William DeVaughn’s then contemporary soul hit ‘Be Thankful for What You Got’(also covered by Massive Attack on Blue Lines) is brilliant and the funky country blues of ‘You Said You Would’ is a lost Lee classic. There is a feeling that by second side of the record ideas for songs were starting to run out as Lee revisits tracks from previous records……. skilfully reworked by the best session musicians a major label budget can hire and a powerful, intuitive band, recycled Lee songs on the LP included ‘Everybody’s Gotta Live’ and ‘Busted Feet’ (from Lee’s 1972 solo album Vindicator) and a reprise of ‘Singing Cowboy’ (from Love’s 1969 album Four Sail). As it is now the norm with deluxe reissues there are also mandatory bonus cuts……amongst the usual alternative versions, demo’s, single edits, studio jams etc that only a serious fan can truly love, High Moon have unearthed four songs recorded during the Reel To Real sessions but until now were previously unreleased. These songs (three fully-produced Hendrix inspired rockers and a more stripped down, laid back track which sounds like a Sly Stone demo recording ) were previously unknown to all but their original participants, and present a major addition to Arthur Lee’s catalogue. If you take this record on face value and strip it of the baggage of being a post Forever Changes Love album and consider Reel To Real as purely an Arthur Lee solo album where he is exploring his soul and funk influences, the absolute panning it got on release has to be seen as completely unfair. In hindsight, RSO marketing this record as a Love album was maybe a mistake.

Reel To Real was to be the last ever Love studio album and as sort of expected the relationship with RSO ended badly……. Promotional efforts to reintroduce Love to the record buying public via supporting slots on an Eric Clapton tour proved disastrous due to Lee's increasing erratic behavior and while in England, he insulted RSO chief Robert Stigwood publicly, effectively torching the label deal which was meant to restart his failing career. Arthur Lee essentially disappeared for the next 25 years before finally coming to terms with his demons and reconnecting with Forever Changes until his death in 2006, a fitting swansong to one of rocks nearly men.

Available on either CD, vinyl or as a digital download, the deluxe reissue of Reel To Real is out now and is available from the High Moon webstore and the usual online outlets… but we would prefer you support your local independent record store.