Saturday, February 13, 2016

Britta Phillips - Luck or Magic (2016) review


Britta Phillips - Luck or Magic (Double Feature, 2016)


I’ve been anticipating this release for over a year now, probably more like five, ever since Britta’s solo show at Milkboy in Philadelphia with The Figgs backing her up, where she laid down a sensational evening of covers and original material ... standing on her own, without the legendary band Luna, or her husband Dean Wareham adding anything to the mix.

Britta’s vocals have always been splendid, light, lingering and intoxicating, and never more-so than what’s found here on Luck Or Magic, consisting of five original tracks, along with five covers that span the history of contemporary music, including the likes of “One Fine Summer Morning,” a rendition of Evie Sand’s 1969 emotional single.  Other covers include tracks by Fleetwood Mac, The Cars, ABBA, and Dennis Wilson [of The Beach Boys].  I so wish that I could be there to see your expression when you hear her take on Wilson's “Fallin’ In Love," a hauntingly intoxicated number that will lay you out as it caresses your soul ... causing a hypnotic smile to slide across your face, setting your heart to racing, and swimming through your head like half forgotten dreamy memories of bygone days.  As to her original tracks, those too are destined to become wasted washed-out romantic classics that will filter in an out of your life for all time.

The album is entirely laced with songs of love and seemingly treasured private memories that come together in a drifting fashion, full of intimacy, all structured and considered to carry the album flawlessly from beginning to end.

*** Available on White Vinyl, Black Vinyl, CD, and as a Download for those who must.

Review by Jenell Kesler/2016
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2016

Mars Red Sky


Some time ago Saint-Petersburg had a great chance to meet French wizards called “Mars Red Sky”. I didn’t waste any time and quickly asked a couple of questions to find out a little bit more about charming citizens of Bordeaux who became quite well known in their genre. They have four releases so far, all available at their bandcamp page (https://marsredsky.bandcamp.com/)


Hello guys. Let's start with a basic question. What was the first song you learned to play on guitar?

Julien: Let me try to figure it out…something from Metallica, I think.

Jimmy: I had been taking guitar lessons before. I was a beginner, a very first level player. I remember our teacher asked everyone to choose a song we want to learn. Well, the next day, each student came back with “Metallica”, “AC/DC” etc. I returned with a song of some dark gothic band (maybe it was “Death in June”, don’t remember exactly). But when the teacher played the tape there was only bass guitar in my song. Bass and vocals... But for me it sounded like a guitar part. Anyway, that’s the story.

Mathieu: I’m a very bad guitar player. But I learnt to play. Tried to play “Satisfaction” riff of “The Stoones”and couldn't understand how they could get that sound - cos  it sounded completely different on my guitar (I was playing the classical guitar, and I was too young to understand, that I needed another kind of instrument to reach the similar effect). And if we talk about drums, probably it was one of “Nirvana's” songs.

And what was your first pedal? 

Jimmy: Boss distortion, the yellow one. And it was mostly because one day I invited a friend, David (he played in a band already) and I was amazed by the sound of his guitar. He just put his foot on the metal box and suddenly the sound became gorgeous. I didn't know a lot about guitars and stuff at that time, so it blew my mind completely.

Mathieu: It was a kick-pedal, of course.

How about your “guilty pleasure” artists?

Mathieu: I don’t have any CDs or records, but if there was Beyonce on the radio, I wouldn't change the channel.

Julien: The same with Rihanna, right?

Mathieu: Yes!

What’s in your van?

Jimmy: Pretty simple – juice, fruits, a couple of energy drinks and water.

That’s all? Nothing special, like, for example, 150 pairs of white socks or a small monkey?

Julien: No, nothing special. 

Which movie would you prefer for Soundtrack-writing?

Julien: Difficult question…so…

Jimmy: Remember, not porn! (laughing)

Julien: Let’s say "Space Odyssey 2001". Or Coen brother's "True Grit"

Jimmy: Julien, I usually imagine you doing some music for that director, very sensitive one, who shot famous movie about adolescence, “The Elephant”. What was his name?

Gus Van Sant?

Jimmy: Yes. Sure, Julien can make perfect music for that kind of atmosphere.

If you weren't musicians, what professions would you choose?

Jimmy: Booking agent. Or driving instructor: it’s one of my fantasies.

Julien: If I could go back, I would pursue history, politics, and economy or, maybe, astronomy and quiet work in an office. Or at the library. Yes, I definitely can do that!

Mathieu: I could be a professional swimmer.

Describe what you think is your typical listener.

Jimmy: We saw different kinds of characters: metal-heads, old 70s guys, saying to us that our gig reminds them of old times, teenager with his crying mom (she was too emotional), not-anything-special guys with their girlfriends...

Who would you like to support on a tour? 

Mathieu: Would be great to play with Bruce Springsteen, but unfortunately he does not need anyone.

Jimmy: Beyonce! Crazy! Just imagine – “MRS” is playing at the huge stadium before Beyonce.

Mathieu: Also we could be a nice backing band for her! (smiling)

The most awful gig you ever had?

Jimmy: One definitely - I really fucked up everything that time, had problems with my hand during all the show, it seemed like it got stuck and I could not move it. Suppose nobody in the audience noticed that...

Jimmy: Sometimes they know… (Smiling)

So, only technical problems? Nothing like…

Julien: Total disaster?

Yes...

Once in Italy we played in front of 3 people, and that place had been full before we started (something about 150 people). So we played for the German dude, his girlfriend and another guy.  And we all thought: “What’s going wrong here, man?”...

Why do you think there are many great bands, that don't get much attention. Bands, that actually care about sound, visuals and everything, but despite all of this only a few people know about them.

Suppose you are talking about bands, which are creating music for music lovers – for such kind of people, for whom music takes about 90% of life. For usual people it takes only about 10 %. Obviously, if you count, it will turn out that 10 music lovers = 100 usual listeners. That means everything is balanced. Actually, it’s totally normal, when people, who are really involved, think that the main stuff is crap – for example, if you care about what you eat, you won’t eat at McDonald's. However, small restaurants with homemade food are still working. Unfortunately, music industry tends to focus on bands recording nothing special, but fast and groovy. That’s the industry – it makes the things really flat, music for industry is something trivial and ordinary, like the water in the tab: you should not think about it, music should be everywhere and just keep going.


Since you travel a lot together do you ever argue with each other?

Mathieu: Don’t think so. If we have a problem, we will talk. If we have something to say, we will just say it. We are trying not to make the situation worse. So let’s say that in relations between us "the bomb never explodes".

Jimmy:  Let me say…

Julien: Oh, no! Not again! I’m quitting! (laughing)

Jimmy: Everyone has his own way of thinking, but as a band, we have developed a kind of social intelligence already.

Mathieu: We all had a band experiences before, so we know how to deal with our behaviour when to do and not to do, when to say and not to...

Jimmy: You need to know we are very different, but anyway we fit well. Especially in the beginning, it was funny to say that our collective consisted of Nazi (drummer), depressive guy (Julien) and a crazy guy (Jimmy). But, as I mentioned before, we get on quite well and learn from each other. To sum up, just want to say I usually try not to mess or fuck up something, coz I simply appreciate those two.

Mathieu: He wants to say he loves us.

What brings you more inspiration – noisy town or a quiet desert?

Jimmy: I reckon music is more organic and more for the countryside.

Julien:  Depends on what you are recording. Any kinds of speech, expressions – music or whatever, are based on experiences, you remember them even if you don’t think about them – memories emerge unconsciously from you mind. At some point they suddenly pump up in your head, then twist, and after you rub a guitar or a drum and finally you come up with a riff or a drum pattern.

The last question. What three things would you choose to take with you to the abandoned island?

Mathieu: Ginger root (coz you can just put it in the ground and it will grow forever), a pair of drumsticks and a knife.

Jimmy: I think you can always make a pair of sticks by yourself if you have a knife.

Mathieu: Ok, ginger root, a knife and one small box of sardines.

Jimmy: My choice would be very simple - a gun with one bullet.

Julien:  Boat with paddles - to leave the island.


Impossible – the island is too far away and it’s located in the open sea.

Jimmy: No! The guy from 50s, Alain Bombard, had already done something like that - he theorized that a human being could very well survive the trip across the ocean without provisions and decided to test his theory himself. It took him about 2 months to sail across the Atlantic Ocean on a small boat.


Interview by Olga Batyreva/2016
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2016

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Flyying Colours - Flyying Colours EP (2013) review


Flyying Colours - Flyying Colours EP (Shelflive, 2013)

Somewhere between the lightening strike and the thunder that follows, you’ll find Flyying Colours ... not so much lurking in the shadows, but ready to break glass all around you. They’re a neo-psychedelic force to be reckoned with, distilling The Cure with more energy, and giving Echo & The Bunnymen a more lushly layered depth, and all at high volume. This isn’t music to sit and dream away to, it’s music to shake your soul, rattle your brain, set your feet on fire, smother out everything else around you, and shorten the distance between any two points by light years.

Review by Jenell Kesler/2016
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2016

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

It's Psychedelic Baby presents: Timmy's Organism - Heartless Heathen premiere

Heartless Heathen was released on Third Man Records. What we have here is double neck guitars, wigs, a tasty burrito and some snaggle teeth... so you better enjoy this weirdness from Timmy's Organism exclusively premiering on Psychedelic Baby.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Small Faces - The Immediate Years (1995) review


The Small Faces “The Immediate Years” (Charly Records, 1995)
Small Faces, Big Box!  Twenty Years On And Still Essential!

It simply doesn’t seem possible that more than twenty years have passed since I walked into the local record shop and picked up the four CD box set by The Small Faces that I had ordered a week or so previous.  The box itself was a lift lid on Charly Records and looked nearly identical to the label’s 1993 four CD set by The Yardbirds, “Train Kept A Rollin’”.  Holding the box in my hands the photo of the band and the set’s title with “small faces” in large font caught my eye.  Even before lifting the box lid I perused the track listing on the back of the box, my mind racing at the plethora of incredible tunes listed.  Not only were all the band’s tunes recorded and released on Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate label included, but single sides issued jointly by Immediate and the band’s previous label, Decca, were included as well.  The time had arrived to explore the box’s contents.

Unlike the earlier Yardbirds box set no tee shirt was included so the booklet and jewel case enclosed discs bounced around a bit, but only a bit.  The booklet immediately caught my eye.  Upon opening, the set’s 86 tracks are documented, with songwriting credit, original date of release and whether the tune is presented in mono or stereo.  Quite an impressive sight I assure you, especially in 1995, predating even Big Beat’s 1997 “Zombie Heaven”, the benchmark to which subsequent box sets have been held.  It came as no surprise that “notes from the compiler” disclosed that like The Yardbirds box, “The Immediate Years” was compiled by Phil Cohen, a reassuring sign.

As for the music itself, Disc One opens with two tracks by The Moments, Steve Marriott’s pre-Small Faces band presented here for their historical importance.  Next up are the single tracks which were issued jointly by Decca and Immediate, including the rhythm and blues stompers “Whatcha Gonna Do About It” and “Sha La La La Lee” as well as the band’s earliest endeavors into a heavier, more psychedelic sound on tracks such as “My Mind’s Eye”, a #4 UK hit, and the band’s only UK chart topper “All Or Nothing”.  The band’s move to Immediate begins with its #12 hit “Here Come The Nice” written about the band’s amphetamine connection.  Next up is “Itchycoo Park”, probably the best known song by The Small Faces with its distinctive heavily phased sound.  It reached #3 on the UK charts and was the group’s only US hit peaking at #16 in 1967.  The band’s musical prowess continued to grow evidenced by the incredible guitar driven “Tin Soldier” a #9 hit for the band.  “Lazy Sunday” was a mellower, but melodic, song than its predecessors.  It certainly caught the public’s attention, climbing to #2.  “The Universal” was recorded in Marriott’s back yard.  The song which topped at #16 features Steve’s dog barking.  Sadly, the band’s tour de force single “Afterglow Of Your Love” with its heavy guitar and introspective lyrics was not released until after Marriott had left the band to form Humble Pie with guitarist/vocalist Peter Frampton of The Herd.  With no band to promote or tour the song it stalled at #36.  All the single mixes on disc one, a and b sides alike are presented in their original mono mixes.

Disc Two opens with stereo versions of the single sides from “I Can’t Make It” and “Just Passing” which were also released by Decca to the Immediate only releases such “Here Come The Nice”, “Itchycoo Park”, and “Tin Soldier”.  The only single not presented in stereo is “Afterglow Of Your Love” which was only released in mono at the time.  Small Faces’ third LP, first for Immediate, “Small Faces” is presented in stereo.  This album is for me their most consistent containing strong tracks like “(Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me”, “Green Circles” and “Eddie’s Dreaming”.  The stereo mixes contrast quite nicely with the mono mixes of the singles on the first disc.  

Disc Three consists of Small Faces’ #1 LP, the classic “Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake” and its classic tracks such as the instrumental title track, a retitled “Afterglow (Of Your Love)”, “Lazy Sunday”, another personal favorite “Song Of A Baker” and “Rollin’ Over”.  The album mixed one side of conventional songs while the other side contained tunes intertwined with narration by comedian Stanley Unwin.  Unusual to say the least, but it worked well becoming The Small Faces’ lone chart topping album, released in highly expanded three CD Deluxe Edition in 2012.  Along with “Ogden’s” twelve tracks are the five tracks recorded live at Newcastle City Hall in 1968 which were eventually released in 1969 in the UK on the 2 LP set “The Autumn Stone” and in Germany on the single LP “In Memoriam”.  Interestingly, among the live tracks are rocking band originals “Tin Soldier”, “All Or Nothing” and “Rollin’ Over” and two covers, Tim Hardin’s “If I Were A Carpenter” and Ed Cobb’s “Every Little Bit Hurts” making for a good mixture of old and new material, performed with equal zeal and leaving the listener wondering how good this band was capable of becoming.

Disc Four is the rarities element of the set.  Many of the tracks found here joined the live recordings on “The Autumn Stone” and “In Memoriam”.  Highlights include two mixes each of “The Autumn Stone” and “Collibosher”, “Red Balloon”, ”Don’t Burst My Bubble”, “Wide Eyed Girl On The Wall” and “Call It Something Nice”, the five studio tracks used for “In Memoriam”.  Beyond this, rarities include instrumental versions of “Tin Soldier” and “A Hungry Intruder”, a track, “Picaninny” which features both Marriott and Ian McLagan on guitar, a very rare occurrence in the studio, a US only mix of “Green Circles” and a demo of “Wham, Bam, Thank You Mam”.  Compiler Phil Cohen included every song released by Immediate in the UK, USA and Germany.  As for the sound, it may not be state of the art, but it sounds pretty doggoned good to my ears.  It was released in 1995 so Cedar sound reduction was used, just to let you know.  But it sounds fine to me and the scope of this release makes it an essential element of Small Faces fans collections.

The 52 page booklet also includes a large section reprinted from Record Collector, a Small Faces Immediate years discography including charting information, a nice essay by compiler Cohen, lots and lots of press clippings and photos and a genuine Pete Frame family tree to top it all off.  While this box set was released in 1995 copies of it, new and used, are available from places like Amazon.com and Discogs.com and are most certainly worth pursuing.  The “Here Come The Nice” box set contains an incredible amount of unreleased Immediate years material, whereas this set contains all the material released on Immediate originally, along with tracks from posthumous compilations making it the perfect companion to the 2014 box set.  My bottom line recommendation is in favorite of The Small Faces Hat Trick of Box Sets, “The Immediate Years”, “Here Come The Nice” and “The Decca Years”.  You know the old saying good things always come in threes.  You couldn’t find a more perfect example.

Review by Kevin Rathert/2016
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2016

Monday, February 8, 2016

JAZZ CORNER Presents: Dr. Lonnie Smith - Evolution (2015)


Dr. Lonnie Smith - Evolution (Blue Note, 2015)

It’s been what [?], forty or forty-five years since Dr. Lonnie Smith, the godfather of the Hammond B3 organ, and Spartan of the groove, delivered from on high his last recording for Blue Note Records. Highly overlooked, but nonetheless musically affluent in the 60’s, Dr. Smith infected the world with his soul-jazz and over the top algebraic musical constructions that were not only finger popping good, but widened the eyes of even the most wide-eyed jazz cats out there [not forgetting us jazz kittens].

Smith delivers all you’d expect here on Evolution, plus he pulls some stuff out of thin air that you wouldn’t believe. This is an album that showcases the music, with a mere seven tracks, each of differing styles that flow with moving textures that are fully developed with the immediacy of a hand that’s been furnishings notes to upturned ears for longer than I can remember. And he does it all with a huge sound, with two drummers, funky horns, and all without pulling punches and avoiding gimmicks.

I used to spend my Friday nights in a variety of record shops, tossing my jacket behind the counter and going through the store from A to Z. Often times it was merely a striking album cover that grabbed my attention. Today those adventurous evenings are long gone, nevertheless Evolution has a cover that demands your attention, almost as if the notes where being projected through the art, assuring your fingertips that this gem was gonna be on your turntable for quiet awhile.

I don’t know if it’s my ears or Dr. Smith’s organ, because his notes seem to have become much richer over the years, more deep, more expressive, making this release the crowing touch for his career ... I’m avoiding using the word ‘pinnacle’ as I’m hoping for one more bit of magic from Lonnie Smith and his band of luminary mystics to round out my collection.

Review by Jenell Kesler/2016
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2016

Sendelica


The cosmic cruiser Sendelica under command of its brave navigator Pete Bingham returns again from the voyage to farthest corners of galaxy with the cargo of priceless treasures. Sendelica’s holds full of cosmic colours, tunes and vibrations clad in a form of psychedelic space rock. The crew of this outfit got a pair of new skilful members who are experienced in such musical travels and ready to share this experience with you. But first let's heed the message of Peter himself. He is here to tell the latest exciting news of Sendelica.

Hello Pete! How are you? What cosmic horizons do you head on with Sendelica?

Hello Aleks, I am very good my friend. Sendelica is the Cosmic Horizon and this year we ride its brow in celebration of the first ten years of Sendelica.

Then accept my congratulations Peter! How do you plan to celebrate first Sendelica jubilee?

We will be celebrating in style with lots of gigs in UK and in Europe along with some fine new albums, a 7” single and some back catalogue re-issues. You can check out our  upcoming gigs on soundkick at  https://www.songkick.com/artists/1009018-sendelica 

First of all, there is new Sendelica album “I’ll Walk with the Stars for You” finished. Let’s clarify one tiny detail - is it already released?

This is the first of a plethora of releases out this year for our 10th Anniversary. ‘I’ll Walk with the Stars for You’ is released in mid March in Italy on the Italian label V.E. Records.


Pete, there are vocals on two new songs – “Black Widow Man” and “Dance Stars Dance”, something new for Sendelica as it always was the instrumental project. Who sings on new songs? And why have you decided to include vocals now?

The vocalist on two tracks of the album is none other than Twink (Tomorrow, Pretty Thinks, Pink Fairies, Stars, etc etc). Although we are predominately an instrumental band we did actually have vocalists on our first EP & first album. So when the idea of a vocalist arose with this album it seemed perfectly logical to have a dear friend join us for this project.

Twink. (Copyright by Phil Franks)

Do you have other lineup changes besides adding the vocalist?

This album features a lot of guests alongside the core members of Sendelica, These special guests include Twink (vocals), Nik Turner (flute) (Hawkwind, Inner City Unit), Colin Consterdine (keys & programming) (Zion Train), Virginia Tate (organ), your fellow Russian, Vasily V Bartov (drums), Geoff Chase (drums) (The Bentmen, Axemunkee), Jack Jackson (drums) and Paul Williams (bass) (The Spookers).  I hope I have not missed anyone!!

(editor's note: We made interviews with both, Twink and Nik Turner)

How did you gather all these musicians together? And how did you organize record sessions with them?

It was quite a task and was recorded over several years and in three different countries, a labour of love but well worth the effort.

Does "I'll Walk With the Star for You” have some concept? What is a message of the album?

It is an album rejoicing in how timeless music inspired by the 60’s/70’s can be. From the 70’s inspired hard rock of ‘Black Widow Man’ to the Floydian overtones of ‘Dace Stars Dance’… it’s a celebration of an era that is close to our collective hearts. Of course, as always, it has that certain Sendelican twist……

Can this era or its elements exist in modern world outside music? Or is it some kind of virtual harbour for you?

A very good question… I think that the ethos of that era is embraced in other parts of 21st century culture. For instance in art, movies and clothes….. Also there appears to be a bit of a retro  aspect in some peoples lifestyles, both young and old… the re-emergence of things like records, perhaps a nostalgic looking back. And finally I think there may be some kind of spiritual re-awakening in the last decade or so, mimicking the similar embracing of alternative religious/spiritual teachings that also occurred in the 60’s. It is all good to look back for inspiration but we must also take it forward, not get bogged down in simply recreating what has already gone before. It is important to put our twists onto this framework, otherwise it is danger of becoming twee, stagnant and ultimately redundant.  

Pete, there is the song “Moscow Bunker Blues” on this album, what is it? Do memories of your Russian trip still warm you?

Yes, we have very fond memories of our two trips touring Russia, I remember meeting you in St.Petersburg and we miss our soul brother Kamille (Grand Astoria) very much. I often talk to him on facebook and we do sometimes meet up with him touring in Europe. So yes, some great memories from those days and was wonderful to meet so many fans over there, an amazing experience on many levels.

What new did you discover during work over "I'll Walk with the Stars for You"?

Last year we did a lot of recording and I think the one thing we discovered is that we still have a lot of great music in us to still come out… onwards to the next ten years.


By the way, what kind of deluxe editions have you prepared for fans of Sendelica this time? Will it include space jelly bears and more Martian robots?

Ha, Ha yes those box sets seem to have become quite legendary!! This album is available as a limited edition hand numbered blue vinyl LP with poster (250 copies), a black vinyl edition (also 250 copies), & CD….. but sadly no box set of this release. However do not panic, later in the year we have a second new studio album released by UK label Fruits De Mer, and there will be a box set with a free GHOST!!  

A real ghost from UK?! Is it a spirit of some valour earl or did you just gather restless souls of some miserable prisoners from Tower?

Lol, off course a real ghost, would I lie to you Aleks...

Peter, you're telling that Sendelica already works over new album, can you reveal its details?

Yes, last year was a busy year recording as much as we could. Our second studio album of 2016 will be released in May on Fruits De Mer label and is called ‘The Cromlech Chronicles’. It is a tale of Megaliths, returning Elohims, Space Goats and some mad Japanese music. It features special guest Cyndee Lee Rule on violin, we are very proud of this very cinematic album. We also made a twenty three minute movie of the title track which will be available in the box sets as a bonus dvd.

The artwork of new album isn't as colourful as previous one you have on "Anima Mundi" album. Why did you choose darker and simpler picture?

Sometimes you have to visit the ‘Darker Side’ to truly appreciate the retina burning full on ‘Psychedelic Side’. This album cover was painted by an Italian artist and it has a certain brooding quality to it.
But fear not, there will be some releases later this year with retina burning artwork!! 


There are three more releases between “Anima Mundi” (which was released just the year ago on January 2015) and fresh one “I’ll Walk with the Stars for You” – “Sendelica Vs. Da Captain Trips”, “Sendelica Live from the 7th Psychedelic Network Festival” and “Sendelica & Friends”. When did you find time to deal with it all?! Please reveal secrets of your high artistic tempo!

It is very simple, WE LOVE TO MAKE MUSIC, wether it is in a live situation or in the studio, it’s what makes us feel alive and keeps us breathing. It is what it is all about.


Pete, what are the highlights of Sendelica live activity from 2015? And what is your tour schedule for 2016?

I will answer these two questions together. Last year was a hive of activity, especially branching out more into Europe and hitching up with German label ‘Sunhair’.
2016 is a massive celebration, in both releases and live shows, of this being Sendelicas 10th Anniversary. We will be hitting the live circuit from end of April with shows in UK, Italy and Germany in support of a hectic schedule of releases in UK and Europe.
Onwards we go……….

Sounds like plan! Then I wish you and Sendelica all the best on your journey! Live long and prosper comrade Peter! Do you have few more words of cosmic wisdom to share with our readers?

Yes indeed, if you ever find yourself in a Zenosyne loop, close your eyes, breathe deeply & slowly, and  normal reality will eventually return. Either that or the Space Goats will eat you.


Interview by Aleksey Evdokimov/2016
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2016

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Juleah - Melt Inside the Sun (2015) review


Juleah - Melt Inside the Sun (Konkord Records, 2015)

With Melt Inside The Sun, Juleah has created a wonderfully lush dream-pop album that’s delightfully laced with neo-psychedelic edges, and mixed with the swagger of a blueswoman just stepped off the bus, lookin’ for a place to plug in her guitar. This album is a true discover’s delight, masterfully created, hypnotically compelling, haunting and darkly sexual, with each song flowing not only effortlessly, but seamlessly into the next. The release is concise, never in your face ... and those quivering sustained strings just melt my heart.

You won’t believe what your ears are hearing, and when you slap this album down, everyone in the room will surly be amazed, thinking that you’re far too plugged in for your own good.

Review by Jenell Kesler/2016
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2016

Saturday, February 6, 2016

17 Pygmies, Isabel II: Abaddon Rising

By Natalya Kolosowski

Isabel II: Abaddon Rising is the fifth of nine recordings that when combined comprise the entire Book of Celestina. We thought you would enjoy following the continuing musical, graphic, visual, and literary science-fiction adventures of the Celestina.
Following their long tradition of blending musical styles 17 Pygmies artfully manages to incorporate Prog, Folk, Pop and Alternative 80's rock into a single musical style that has allowed the band to follow it's own unique vision for over 30 years. 

17 Pygmies Band Photo 2016 L-R Meg Jean Jack Jeff Dirk

Philip Drucker of 17 Pygmies took some time to explain the story behind album making...

It may all sound a bit odd, but the event that actually triggered the idea for writing the short story, the Flight of the Celestina, the story that would eventually become a three trilogy/nine-part space opera with music and accompanying text, was when I discovered that my maternal ancestors were not from Austria as I believed, but Spain. This revelation sent me on a journey of research and discovery about the arts, music, and culture of the Latin world. 


This wasn't much of a "stretch" as I was already well aware of the works of Picasso, El Greco, Dali, Velasquez and Murillo (to name a few), as well as the music of Del Falla, Isaac Albeniz, and Joaquin Rodrigo (again, to name a few). But one treasure I had not yet discovered was the literary genius of Fernando Rojas, in particular his 15th century novel La Celestina (Tragicomedy of Calisto and Melibea.) The novel is a classic tale of human love, betrayal, and the inexplicable randomness of fate. As I love science fiction (Star Trek is my favorite) the only way I thought the story could have been better was if it were set in outer space. And so that's what I did. The short story was titled The Flight of the Celestina to reflect the name of the spaceship and rather than being based in a Brothel in 15th Century Spain, Flight takes place in a future society that most closely resembles the Spanish Inquisition on steroids. 


There is no government, there is no religion (much less any separation of the two), there are no nations, and there are no corporations. The only organized body is the controlling, mysterious Centre. For its part Centre seeks only abject, unquestioning loyalty and devotion from its citizenry. Disobedience is not tolerated. In return Centre offers protection to the population from whatever menace it finds conveniently available. Of course, even if there is no actual threat and Centre needs one, Centre is not above creating one. One of the main sub-plots involves one of the crew-member's suspicions that his family died as a result of the actions of Centre. Centre also seems to be on an unrelenting mission to prove the existence of a supreme being. 

Within this setting is where the story starts, with the Celestina, a small, generational (no warp drive or hyper-space), scientific (it has no weapons) craft that slowly makes it way through the stars, travelling through wormholes toward its final, classified destination.  

So, if you can imagine a story of love, betrayal and the general absurdity of life set in a small space ship with a crew that seems strangely ill suited for this kind of mission, in this instance searching for evidence of a supreme being in a newly discovered black hole in the constellation of Cassiopeia, you get the idea. However, once the story was written, it was time for more. This is where the recordings started.

In 2008 the Celestina short story and Celestina I CD were simultaneously released, the idea being the CD would be a soundtrack to the short story (and if there is a supreme being perhaps a motion picture to follow!) But there was a problem. Celestina only follows the adventures of it's crew, Captain Robert Mora, Amelia Isabel, and Doctors Calixto, Velasquez and Murillo as well as the character Celestina (a carbon based artificial interface-system that essentially pilots the ship) to the event horizon of the black hole. 


How do you stop a story at the event horizon of a black hole? If you are a science-fiction fan you know this is virtually a crime against nature. The story and characters had taken on a life of their own and it soon became obvious there needed to be a Celestina II. After all, there must be something on the other side of a black hole. And so in 2009 Celestina II: Second Son was released. Next, considering most of the characters from the first two stories were still alive, and many new ones added, including Herrod, the leader of the Robots as well as followers, a group of conscious-objecting communal robots hell-bent on abusing hallucinogenic drugs, it was obvious there needed to be a Celestina III: Even Celestina Gets the Blues (A Tale of Love and Quantum Physics) (2012) that followed the story of the remaining crew members adventures after they landed back on Earth. Since the story kept going, I kept going.


Next came Isabel I (2013), a story/CD that explores life above (and below) Nuevo Madrid. Two years in the making, our latest recordings (and accompanying short story) Isabel II: Abaddon Rising (2015) was released. There will be an Isabel III. But the story will not end with the Isabel trilogy. There will be a third trilogy titled Velasquez I, II and III. When completed, the three trilogies, Celestina, Isabel and Velasquez will make up the nine chapters of the Book of Celestina, a collected work that will eventually be released as a specialty boxed-set. 

Above by Natalya Kolosowski

Musically, the CDs have been described as Psychedelic, Sombredelic, New Wave, Cold Wave, Prog, Folk, Space Rock, Classical, Symphonic, and sounding too much and too little like Pink Floyd. I personally feel it just sounds like us. Now you will excuse me, but I have a short story to write... 

It's Psychedelic Baby presents: The Canadian Sweetmen, "Intro and New Cigarettes" premiere

Taking influence from The Beach Boys' strain of psychedelia, east coast songsters The Canadian Sweetmen are cool, direct and adroit- trading in traditional surf tones for a more peculiar sound. Relying on malfunctioning rotor cabinets, broken organs, and countless pieces of dated sound gear, the group produces songs from an indefinite era. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Ultimate Painting - Ultimate Painting (2014) review


Ultimate Painting - Ultimate Painting (Trouble in Mind Records, 2014)

In interviews Ultimate Painting often underhandedly indicated that they want to break away from their breezy 60’s inspired obsession of jangling guitars laced with hypnotic layering ... and to that I ask, “Why?”  This is what Ultimate Painting does best, and they’re doing it better and more seamlessly than most bands who’ve embarked on this adventurous sound. 

When this neo-psych genre first hit, I was making comparisons to The Byrds, Brian Wilson, Love, and so many other bands who rose from those wondrous nights so long ago ... but enough time as passed that current neo-psychedelia stands on its own now, and rightly so, revealing groups who are no longer relying on the past, rather building on it in a structural and emotional manner that’s in and of the moment.  There’s a dynamic richness to what’s presented here, and though yes, you could certainly say that these sounds have been heard before [sort of], though in all honesty, you have not heard these sounds in this manner before, or so satisfyingly jam packed with unrelenting hooks and swagger that you’ll find yourself nearly out of breath just from listening. 

This is an uncomplicated album to listen to, and of course that means that means that it’s far from uncomplicated, delivering interlocking guitar solos, washes of sound and a melancholy of brilliant haziness that will smother your soul.

Review by Jenell Kesler/2016
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2016

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Wheelers of Oz - Revivalised (2015) review


The Wheelers of Oz - Revivalised (2015)

Standing at one of the thirty-fifth floor observation widows of a very nice hotel, a bit chemically induced [legally], I was watching the lights of San Diego slowly flicker on as the sun was setting somewhere behind me, painting the sky with perfect shades of pinks and oranges, my headphones beginning to buzz with delight ... I was hearing Wheelers of Oz for the first time, and I knew it would never get any better than this. 

Revivalised is certainly lo-fi garage intoxication, yet in the same breath, The Wheelers Of Oz are so much more, inspirationally burring the lines between shoegazer and straight ahead hazy sun drenched psychedelia, while mixing in fuzzed out reverb to create a dream-pop psych atmosphere that’s very easy to get lost in. Their sounds are layered, almost cinematic, incredibly yet effortlessly tight, washed in instrumentation that moves both outward and inward, catching the listener off guard, but not unpleasantly, masterfully maintaining a dramatic movement that weaves outward, yet almost magically, always travelling back to the center before reaching out again with a purity I have not experienced in years.


I personally can’t wait for their next release, wanting so much to continue on with their magical mystery tour. So, whether you’re on a thirty-fifth floor or just sitting out under the stars Revivalised is going to stagger you.

Review by Jenell Kesler/2016
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2016

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Small Faces - Here Come The Nice (2014) review


Small Faces “Here Come The Nice” (Charly Records, 2014)
An Incredible Documentation Of Small Faces’ Immediate Records Recordings!

The legendary British mod rock band Small Faces’ recording career was split into two distinctive periods.  From 1965 until 1967 the band, managed by Don Arden and signed to Decca Records, spent the majority of time performing live and recording sessions were sporadic and time in the studio was limited.  However, from 1967 until disbanding in 1969 the group was signed to Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate Records label and studio time was virtually unlimited.  Guitarist/vocalist Steve Marriott, bassist/vocalist Ronnie Lane, keyboardist Ian McLagan and drummer Kenney Jones took full advantage of the extended studio time, evidenced by all the unreleased material included in this marvelous box set.  

“Here Come The Nice” marks the second 4 CD box set dedicated to Small Faces’ Immediate recordings, the first, also on the Charly label, being 1995s “The Immediate Years” compiled by Phil Cohen and containing every track the band released on the label in Germany, the US and the UK, 86 tracks in all.  The box sets compliment each other incredibly well as the new release concentrates mainly on previously unreleased material, all 34 tracks on discs two and three making their debut here, a huge addition to the Small Faces catalog indeed.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself.  Disc One contains the mono single mixes of all ten singles released on the Immediate imprint, beginning with this set’s title track from 1967 and ending with the 1969 tour de force, “Afterglow Of Your Love”, released posthumously, Steve Marriott having left the band to form Humble Pie with ex-Herd guitarist/vocalist Peter Frampton.  Of the ten singles, six made the UK top 40, with three making the top ten:  “Itchycoo Park” (#3, and at #16 the only Small Faces single to chart in the US), “Tin Soldier” (#9) and “Lazy Sunday” (#2).  Small Faces’ Immediate singles were consistently strong and unlike their Decca counterparts were all band originals, written by the team of guitarist/vocalist Steve Marriott and bassist/vocalist Ronnie Lane.  Particularly memorable to American listeners is the trippy, phased “Itchycoo Park” a real psychedelic gem.  “Here Come The Nice” follows the drug theme, written about the group’s amphetamine connection.  Marriott’s guitar work is consistent throughout, but particularly interesting on tunes such as the classic “Tin Soldier” and my personal favorite the amazing “Afterglow Of Your Love”.  With twenty tracks and a run time nearing an hour, disc one is an incredible introduction of things to come.

Discs Two and Three contain nothing but previously unreleased material, 34 tracks total, an honest to goodness treasure trove for collectors and fans alike.  Ranging from first takes of later finished tunes like “Green Circles” and “Wide Eyed Girl On The Wall” to alternate mixes of “I Can’t Make It”, “Wham Bam Thank You Man”, “Penny Rides A Penny A Glass” and “Red Balloon”.   There are alternate takes on tracks like “Collibosher” “Wide Eyed Girl” and “Call It Something Nice”.  Tracking sessions for never issued songs are included giving the listener a hint of what could have been on tunes such as “Anything”, “Wit Art Yer” and “Doolally”.  Backing tracks like “All Our Yesterdays”, “Fred” and “Jack” while not finished products prove quite interesting even in instrumental format.  An early mix of “Lazy Sunday Afternoon” offers a look inside the band’s songwriting technique.  While the run times on these two discs may be relatively short, the presence of previously released songs such as “Fred”, “Mind The Doors Please” and “Jack” make this set absolutely essential for fans of Small Faces, mod rock and psychedelic rock.

Disc Four collects alternate and out-takes along with the five live tracks posthumously released on “Autumn Stone” in the UK and “In Memoriam” in Germany.  Stereo mixes of single tracks “Itchycoo Park”, “Here Come The Nice” and “I’m Only Dreaming” released originally on “There Are But Four Small Faces” get things going.  The band’s song building is displayed on take 2, alternate mixes of “Eddie’s Dreaming” and “(Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me”.  Of particular interest is an alternative mono single version of “Afterglow Of Your Love” presented at the original LP speed, the original single having been deliberately speeded up.  Mono versions of “Me You And Us Too”, “Don’t Burst My Bubble” and (If You Think You’re) Groovy” credited to The Lot-P.P. Arnold & The Small Faces sound ready made for AM radio.  Alternate mixes of “Piccanniny”, “Up The Wooden Hills To Bedfordshire” and “Get Yourself Together” vary sufficiently from the released versions to prove quite interesting.  The disc closes with the five live tracks, recorded at Newcastle City Hall in late November, 1968 and released on “Autumn Stone” and “In Memoriam”.  They have been corrected for speed and have had some of the audience screaming, added in 1969 at Pye Studios, removed.  High energy stuff and a perfect way to end the set!  But….


The four discs are housed in a gorgeous 72 page hardbound book with a foreword by Pete Townshend, remembrances by band members Kenney Jones & Ian McLagan, an introduction by reissue producer Rob Craiger, an essay by Mark Paytress and track by track comments by Craiger & Tosh Flood.  Tons of photos and an Immediate years discography are also included.  Then…..

There’s the 64 page softbound book of lyrics, chock full of photos, trippy photos in lots of colors.  But it doesn’t end there…..

There are three replica 45s on red, white & blue vinyl as well as an Olympic Studio acetate, facsimile posters, postcards, Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake press kit and Gered Mankowitz fine art prints.  Whew!  I think that’s it.  All of this in a giant sized lift top box that weighs kilograms.  A heavy weight box set for a heavy weight mod band!

Review by Kevin Rathert/2016
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2016

It's Psychedelic Baby presents: The Lopez - Kill Yr Selfie premiere

We have a new four-song 7-inch coming out in April titled "Kill Yr Selfie"...


The Lopez are a noisy, electro synth-punk combo from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Since 2010, they've been putting out releases on their own and booking their own tours - two to the west coast and a bunch of regional tours. They played with the likes of No Age, The Dead Milkmen, Speedy Ortiz, Shannon and the Clams, Shonen Knife, Tacocat, Colleen Green, and Screaming Females.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Holydrug Couple - Moonlust (2015) review


The Holydrug Couple - Moonlust (Sacred Bones, 2015) 

Bright and airy, almost ambient, Moonlust, by The Holydrug Couple is a step in the evolution of dream-pop, creating a sense of transparentness, space, romanticism, and the need for infusing a sense of clarity and privacy into our very beings.  The Holydrug Couple do this through music, though with a name such as Holydrug, the notion of narcotic pop-music might just be a genre that’s slowly ebbing its way into the musical lexicon of our lives.

There’s a yearning vagueness to this sound, creating a desirable melancholia that is purposeful and enticing, envisioning an illusionary atmosphere of being alone in the crowd.  The Holydrug Couple don’t so much relay stories to you through their vocals, it’s more that they create a palette onto which the listener is able to project their own thoughts, visions, wishes, longings, and objectively channel the core of their inner desires through the contours of this dream-laden soundscape. 

There are few edges to be found anywhere in this release, even in the vocals, where voices are used as much as instrumentation.  In the same manner there’s a distillation of any solid surfaces onto which one might attempt to extract an essential meaning or central aspect of Moonlust.  The music is disarming, in much the same manner as were the Cocteau Twins, or even Galaxie 500, where it’s all about the smoothness, the lack of challenge, and the readiness allow ourselves to be swept away with total disregard.

Review by Jenell Kesler/2016
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2016

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Small Faces “The Decca Years 1965-1967”


Small Faces “The Decca Years 1965-1967” (Decca Music Group Ltd., 2015)
The Definitive Collection of Small Faces’ Early Recordings!

A hefty five CDs, 86 tracks in all, compose Universal International Music (Netherlands) late 2015 compilation “The Decca Years 1965-1967” by The Small Faces, far and away the most complete collection of the band’s early recordings.  The foursome of guitarist/vocalist Steve Marriott, bassist/vocalist Ronnie Lane, keyboard player Ian MacLagan and drummer Kenney Jones recorded, and wrote, some of the most memorable mod music of the mid to late 1960s, the earliest of which is contained in this absolutely essential box set.


Disc One opens with both sides of the eight singles released by the band on Decca, from their 1965 rhythm and blues debut “What‘Cha Gonna Do About It” featuring Marriott’s incredible bluesy vocals to their late 1966 psychedelic gem “My Mind’s Eye” which turned out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back in relations between Small Faces and their label.  The 45 was released by manager Don Arden without the band’s approval, the bottom line being the band’s contract was bought out by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate Records and the second half of the Small Faces’ recording career began, although two further singles (“I Can’t Make It” and “Patterns”) were issued jointly by Decca and Immediate as part of the agreement.  The Decca singles include four top 10 UK hits: “Sha La La La Lee (#3), “Hey Girl” (#10), “My Mind’s Eye” (#4) and Small Faces’ lone #1 single “All Or Nothing”.  The first two are Small Faces at their r and b best, the latter two symbolic of their shift toward a heavier, more psychedelic sound.  The disc is completed by five songs originally available only on EPs, a total of 21 tracks, all recorded, released and reissued in mono and sounding crisper and cleaner here than ever before.

Disc Two contains the “Small Faces” LP released in May, 1966 which peaked at #3 on the UK charts.  The album’s 12 tracks show the band at its raw rhythm and blues best,   presented here, as recorded, in mono and sounding wonderful.  Six of the album’s twelve tracks were written or co-written by the team of Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane.  There are duplications of tracks as Decca used the same takes and edits for 45s and LPs alike.  These include “Shake”, “It’s Too Late”, “E Too D” and “Sha La La La Lee”, as well as “Come On Children” which is presented in a version different from the one found on the band’s French EP . “Sorry She’s Mine”, “Own Up Time” and “You Better Believe It” are the only tracks not included elsewhere on the set.  Arguments can be made for and against these duplications, but in the name of musical integrity the album is presented in its entirety and in its original running order.  Additionally the quality of songs found on “Small Faces” speaks for itself.  

Disc Three contains “From The Beginning” Small Faces’ second and final Decca LP which peaked at #17 on the charts and was released to compete with the band’s Immediate Records debut LP, “Small Faces”.  The album showed a band who had grown musically and had moved from a raw rhythm and blues sound to  heavier, more psychedelic songs with much more introspective lyrics.  Like its predecessor half, seven, of the album’s 14 tracks are band originals. The album contains the band’s two top charting Decca singles, the top 5 hit “My Mind’s Eye” as well as the chart topping “All Or Nothing” and is a harbinger of things to come in the band’s recordings on the Immediate label. 

Disc Four consists of 23 rarities and outtakes.  Alternate versions of early rhythm and blues numbers like “What’Cha Gonna Do About It”, “Shake” and “What’s A Matter Baby” are joined by alternate versions of later, more psychedelic numbers such as “My Mind’s Eye”, “(Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me” and ”E Too D”.  Alternate mixes on display include “What’s A Matter Baby”, “Runaway” and “That Man”, along with backing tracks of “Talk To You”, “All Our Yesterdays”, “Show Me The Way” and “I Can’t Take It”.  One track “Things Are Going To Get Better” is previously unissued and take 14 has been selected for inclusion here.  This is the disc which will be of most interest to fans of The Small Faces and 1960s mod rock and it will not disappoint!

Disc Five contains 17 tracks recorded for the BBC as well as four interview segments with Steve Marriott.  The performances span the band’s entire tenure at Decca, from the very early “What’Cha Gonna Do About It”, “Shake” and “Sha La La La Lee” to the late recordings like “E Too D”, “Understanding” and “All Or Nothing”.  Unlike many bands of the day Small Faces’ BBC song selection was made up almost entirely of tracks recorded as single or album cuts by the band.  The sound quality on the BBC Recordings is good, a marked improvement from previously available versions.  

The five CDs are joined by a 72 page color booklet that includes an essay by Mark Paytress, full track annotations and tons of photographs, press clippings, short bios of each Small Face and in depth track discussions, including lots of quotes from the members of the band, with Ian MacLagan and Kenney Jones acting as supervisory producers.  Four postcards round out the package which is available at a pleasantly affordable price.  In addition, the remastering job by Nick Robbins at Soundmastering Ltd. is the best ever for The Small Faces’ Decca recordings.  

“The Decca Years” follows the 2014 release of the four CD box set “Here Come The Nice” which anthologized The Small Faces’ Immediate label recordings 1967-1969.  The box sets, both outstanding in their own right stand in sharp contrast of each other with “Here Come The Nice” including a hardbound book, a lyric booklet, and a facsimile acetate among other goodies, housed in an enormous tortoise shell box and weighing kilograms.  “The Decca Years” by contrast is a modest package, containing considerably more music but far fewer amenities.  The price difference between the two sets reflects the differences.  “The Decca Years” actually makes a nice companion to the 1995 Charly Records, Phil Cohen compiled, Small Faces “The Immediate Years” 4 CD, 86 track compilation which I highly recommend and cannot speak highly enough of.  

The Small Faces, (from left) Steve Marriott, Kenney Jones, Ronnie Lane and Ian McLagan. Photograph: GAB Archive/Redferns

Fans of The Small Faces and 1960s mod rock will appreciate the care taken in compiling “The Decca Years”.  As was the label’s practice at the time the band was recorded almost exclusively in mono, with a few tracks, very few being released in either electronically processed or true stereo.  To his credit project manager Rob Craiger refrained from including any of the electronically processed tunes found on the 2012 Deluxe Editions of “Small Faces” and “From The Beginning”.  Thus, the only possible relevant criticism of “The Decca Years” is the inclusion of the same take and edit of tracks issued both as single and album tracks.  In my opinion project manager Rob Craiger made the right call, in the name of continuity, presenting the two albums and eight singles as originally released. The short run times of Discs Two and Three are more than compensated by the extremely reasonable cost this set can be obtained for.  Bottom line, pick up Small Faces’ “The Decca Years” while it is in print!  A great package at an affordable price, what a wonderfully pleasant surprise!

Review by Kevin Rathert/2016
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2016

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Paul Levinson interview


You've been a musician for your whole life and thanks to South Korea's Big Pink/Beatball and Whiplash/Sound of Salvation labels we can listen to your music, that was originally issued on a private label you named HappySad Records back when initial release of Twice Upon A Rhyme came out. Paul Major mentioned your album in a book Enjoy the Experience saying that “Forever Friday” is so amazing and real lo-fi he still gets chills when he hears it, and also the long track “The Lama Will Be Late This Year” sweeps whatever floor is left in this department.

What can you tell us about preparing and getting ideas together to record your album back in 1972?

Twice Upon a Rhyme began in Ed Fox's little apartment on East 85th Street in New York City in the Fall of 1968. We wrote at least 10 songs from October of that year through the Spring of the next year. I mostly wrote the lyrics and Ed wrote the music, and we put the two together in every conceivable way. I had an idea for a song, "Looking for Sunsets – in the Early Morning," I said it to Ed, he started playing the piano, and we wrote the whole song in about ten minutes. One time we were looking at a newspaper, and saw a headline, "The Lama Will Be Late This Year," and the rest of the song practically wrote itself. One day Ed said he saw a sign about a "rain check policy" at a local supermarket, and that's how we got the idea for "Raincheck". Another day, Ed was playing a mournful melody at the piano, and "Forever Friday" just came to me.

We knew after we had written a few songs that we wanted to record an album. Our original plan was to record a couple of demos and take them to record companies. Ed and I already had a contract with Buddah Records for a bubblegum group, Protozoa, that we had recorded. We also had worked with Jimmy "Wiz" Wisner, on another bubblegum music project. But the songs Ed and I had come to write were not bubblegum, and we didn't have the patience to shop the album around before recording it, so we talked to Herb Abramson, one of the founders of Atlantic Records, but now owner of A-1 Recording Studios on the West 70s in New York City, about recording some of our songs at his studio. We had recorded the Protozoa songs there, and Herb was amenable. He's let us record our new songs, at no charge, and we agreed to give him a cut of profits from the album.

We assembled our musicians. Pete Rosenthal was a guitarist. We had first met a few years earlier, when Stu Nitekman (one of the members of an earlier folk-rock group I had been in, The New Outlook) and I had produced a demo of one of the songs Stu and I had written, "If Leaves Fall Tomorrow". The group singing our song was Monday's Children, and Pete was their guitarist. Donnie Frankel, Jay Sacket, and Alan Fuhr came from another group Ed and I had briefly been producing – in fact, they did the first recorded version of "Looking for Sunsets". I had written a bunch of songs with Boris Midney, a Russian jazz musician, and got him to play saxophone and clarinet on the album. We brought in other musicians, such as Mitch Greenberg on keyboard – Mitch went on to have a career as an actor (as has Donnie, in commercials). In fact, Mitch is currently on Broadway in a new production of Fiddler on the Roof. We brought in Jesse Stiller and Mike Dorfman on drums – I can't even recall how we met them. (Donnie and Robbie Rist of the Brady Bunch and Ninja Turtles fame formed a new group, Sundial Symphony, and made new recordings in just the past few years of "Looking for Sunsets" and "Today Is Just Like You," released digitally on HappySad Records.)

The New Outlook - Ira Margolis, Stu Nitekman, and Paul Levinson (1966).

In the end, Ed and I wound up recording the album at a half a dozen recording studios, all on the same terms as our arrangement with A-1. Because we were getting the studio time free of charge, we usually were obliged to record in the middle of the night – and we loved it. Ed and I wrote the charts for violins for several of our songs. I clinked ice in a glass for the beginning of "Today is Just Like You". That song was written entirely by me, as was "The Soft of Your Eyes" (a song I wrote for Tina, who became my wife). I wrote "Not Yet Ready to Say Goodbye" with Linda Kaplan, who decades later wrote the world-famous "Toys R Us" jingle, and has become a best-selling author. "Antique Shop" was written by Pete and me, and "You Are Everywhere" by Danny Kaley (I had written a couple of songs with him in the late 1960s) and me.

What's your musical background? Take us back to your home town and explain what influenced you to become a musician?

I had no musical training, other than taking clarinet lessons for a few years when I was a kid. I did always have a good sense of harmony, and began singing doo-wop a capella when I was about 12 years old. My first group was Little Levi and the Emeralds. Later, I formed a group called The Transits, which is where I met Stu Nitekman and Ira Margolis. The three of us began The New Outlook after the lead singer of The Transits – Dave – disappeared. You can hear a few Transit cuts on my Paul Levinson page on Soundcloud. About a dozen New Outlook recordings are on Spun Dreams - an album I released at the end of 2010, consisting of studio and home demos. We were signed by Ellie Greenwich and Mike Rashkow to Atlantic Records, where we released two singles, which sold a negative number of copies (see below for more). Meanwhile, around this time I also wrote a song, "Unbelievable (Inconceivable You)," recorded but never released by the Vogues (who had hit records with "You're the One" and "Five O'Clock World").

What influenced me to make music was my love of music, the way it's always lit up my brain, ever since I can remember. Every time I heard a Beatles song – every time I hear a Beatles song, or any great music, to this very day – my brain starts making music of its own. For as long as I can remember, I've been singing harmonies, out loud in the car, to myself in crowds, when I hear a good song.

Your first recording was made in the '60s where as part of The New Outlook aka The Other Voices you recorded for Atlantic Records. The single May My Heart Be Cast Into Stone / Hung Up On Love came out in 1968 and it was produced by Ellie Greenwich and Mike Rashkow. What's the story behind The New Outlook and who were members of this group?

Here's more of The New Outlook's story: Stu, Ira, and I first met in Krum's, an ice-cream parlor. After singing in The Transits, a five-man doo-wop group, we formed The New Outlook, with the three of us singing and Stu playing guitar (I came up with all of those names – as well as the name Twice Upon a Rhyme). One Sunday afternoon, The New Outlook was singing in Central Park. Ellie Greenwich and Mike Rashkow were strolling by, liked they heard – we were singing a song Stu and I wrote, "Yesterday's Rain" – and Ellie and Mike signed us to their production company.

One of our disappointments, though, and a source of friction in our relationship, is that Ellie and Mike didn't go on to produce any of our songs. "May My Heart Be Cast Into Stone" was written by songwriters who wrote for the Four Seasons. "No Olympian Height" was written by Brute Force. So not only was our name changed to "The Other Voices," but our music was, too. I did write the lyrics to "Hung Up On Love," and Mikie Harris, then Mike's wife, wrote the music. That recording was the B-side of both our single releases on Atlantic Records. But even on that recording, there was aggravation – Mike didn't like Stu's lead, so he sang the lead himself. I was happy, though, that "Hung Up on Love" was re-released on the Come to the Sunshine compilation put together by Andrew Sandoval for Rhino Records a few years ago.

Would it be possible for you as an author of songs to share your insight on the albums’ tracks?

Here's a brief run-down – of some of the songs I didn't mention in my first answer in this interview. "Today Is Just Like You" was one of a bunch of songs for which I wrote the words and music – bright, sunny tunes, including "Sunshine Mind" (recorded by Donna Marie of the Archies), and "Waking Up to Love," a demo recorded by no one. "Gentle Blue Cherry Bell" is one of my favorite lyrics, and I guess inspired in some way by "Crystal Blue Persuasion". "I'm Seeing You in a Different Light" is also one of my favorite lyrics (written before "I Saw the Light" by Todd Rundgren). "Forever Friday" was probably influenced by the Moody Blues' "Tuesday Afternoon". "Learn to Learn" was just a clever play on words, but I always liked my line, "my world is cardboard when it rains".

How many copies were originally made and what's the story behind HappySad Records?

500 copies, and I still have plenty in my attic. When the tracks were mostly finished, we began shopping the album around. Al Gallico, a big music publisher, was interested for a new label he was starting up, and we got some other interest, but this was taking months and months, so we decided to release the album ourselves, on our own label. I came up with the name HappySad Records. We scrounged up the money needed for the mastering and pressings. We decided not to go for a stereo mix and keep it mono (again, before Phil Specter came out in favor or mono). Tina's friend's boyfriend designed the cover photo, and I got a guy at Bard College to layout the lyrics on the cover. But I guess the pressure of doing all of this was too much for Ed and me – he decided to leave HappySad Records, which I took over entirely. The very last thing we did together was pick up the boxes of Twice Upon a Rhyme records in New Jersey and take them to our apartment on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, where Ed and I were living. He shortly after moved out, and we didn’t' write any more songs together after that.

Ed Fox and Paul Levinson (1970, Grand Concourse).


Did the whole 'band' ever make an appearance to promote album?

Never. After the album was recorded, Pete, Donny, Jay, and Alan made some appearances in the Catskill hotels in New York. And just this past August, Pete and I did a little concert at a science fiction convention in Ronkonkoma, NY – here's the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTCYlNnQpEs And a guy in England has been talking to me for about a year about setting up a concert there. In retrospect, I'm sure Twice Upon a Rhyme would have done better if we had gone around and performed and promoted the album. But after Ed and I split, I became more of a record executive, running HappySad Records, and less a performer. It was an interesting progression, because the Transits did lots of live performances, and so did The New Outlook.

Alan Fuhr standing, seated left to right: Jay Sacket, Bruce Kanter (not on Twice Upon a Rhyme)  Donnie Frankel, Pete Rosenthal (1970, Catskill hotel).

I don't have all the information about your discography. The only release that caught my eye is an archival release titled Spun Dreams…


1963
The Park at Night (Levinson - Gorman) Paul Levinson (lead) & Paul Gorman, studio demo

1966
Once Upon a Summer (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, studio demo, Stu lead
Please Don't Cry Little Dove (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, studio demo, Stu lead
Sunshine's Mine (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, studio demo, Paul lead
Precious (and Golden) (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, home demo, Stu lead
The Flavor of Spring (Levinson) New Outlook, home demo, Stu lead
Water Proof (Levinson) New Outlook, home demo, Paul lead
Two Minus One (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, home demo, Stu lead
Time On My Hands (Nitekman) New Outlook, home demo, Stu lead
Late Afternoon (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, home demo, Stu lead
Keep Off the Grass (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, home demo, Stu lead
Happy Goodbye Baby (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, home demo, Stu lead
Don't Blame It On Love (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, home demo, Stu lead
The Outcast (Mark Goodman) New Outlook, studio demo, Stu lead
Down by the Magical Sea (Mark Goodman) New Outlook, studio demo, Stu lead
1967
If Leaves Fall Tomorrow (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, studio demo, Stu lead
Just That Kind (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, studio demo, Stu lead
Yesterday's Rain (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, studio demo, Stu lead
Sunny Side of the Street (classic: Fields & McHugh) New Outlook, studio demo, Stu lead
The Winds of Change (Levinson-J.Krondes) Good News, Murbo Records, L. Carabalo lead

1968
May My Heart Be Cast Into Stone (Randell-Linzer) Other Voices, Atlantic Records, Stu lead
No Olympian Height (Brute Force) Other Voices, Atlantic Records, Stu lead
Hung Up On Love (Levinson- Mikie Harris) Other Voices, Alantic Records, Rashkow lead
Evening's Evergreen Morning (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, unreleased master, Stu lead
Picture Postcard World (Levinson) Definitive Rock Chorale, Decca Records
Lemons and Limes (Levinson) Fuzzy Bunnies, Decca Records 
Love Colored Glasses (Levinson - Harris) Mikie Harris, studio demo
Mr. Kringle (Levinson - Harris) studio demo 
Teardrops Make No Sound (Levinson - Jimmy Krondes) studio demo 
Waking Up to Love (Levinson) studio demo
Skyscraper (Levinson - Kaplan) Linda Kaplan, studio demo 
Cloudy Sunday (Levinson - Peter Rosenthal) Linda Kaplan, studio demo 
A Piece of the Rainbow (Levinson - Kaplan) Linda Kaplan, studio demo

1969
Sunshine Mind (Levinson) Donna Marie, Columbia Records
Teacups and Tapestry (Levinson - Boris Midney) studio demo
Snow Flurries (Levinson - Jimmy Krondes) Good News, Paul harmony, Murbo Records
Sunday Princess (Levinson - Ed Fox) Joey Ward & Paul Levinson, studio demo
Unbelievable (Inconceivable You) (Levinson) The Vogues, Reprise Records (unreleased)

1970
Not Yet Ready to Say Goodbye (Levinson - Kaplan), Tony DeSanto, studio demo

1971
Merri-Goes-Round (Levinson - Ed Fox) Trousers, Paul harmony, Wizdom Records
Ring Around My Rosie (David Fox) Protozoa, Paul harmony, Buddah Records

1972

Murray the K's Back in Town (Levinson) Paul Levinson, studio demo
Twice Upon A Rhyme (LP)
Paul Levinson 
with Ed Fox and Peter Rosenthal
1. Today Is Just Like You (Levinson) Paul
2. Looking for Sunsets (in the Early Morning) (Levinson & Fox) Paul
3. Gentle Blue Cherry Bell (Levinson & Fox) Paul
4. I'm Seeing You in a Different Light (Levinson & E. Fox) Paul
5. Learn to Learn (Levinson & Fox) Paul
6. Looks Like a Night (I Won't Catch Much Sleep In) (Levinson & Fox) Ed and Paul
7. Raincheck (Levinson & Fox) Paul
8. You Are Everywhere (Levinson & Danny Kaley) Paul
9. Forever Friday (Levinson & Fox) Ed & Paul
10. The Soft of Your Eyes Levinson) Paul
11. Antique Shop (The Coming of Winter) (Levinson & Rosenthal) Paul
12. Not Yet Ready to Say Goodbye (Levinson & Linda Kaplan) Paul
13. The Lama Will Be Late This Year (Levinson & Fox) Ed

Originally released in 1972 by Happysad Records; re-issued on mini-CD by Beatball/Big Pink Records in 2008 and on Vivid Records in 2009; re-issued on re-mastered vinyl by Whiplash/Sound of Salvation Records in 2010 and 2012


PAUL LEVINSON: vocals, keyboard, percussion
ED FOX: vocals, keyboard 
PETER ROSENTHAL: guitars

Jay Sackett: bass; Cyril Penn: recorders; Mitch Greenberg, Jesse Stiller: drums;
Donny Frankel: organ; Joe Szalacsi: trumpet; Israel Esquenazi, Sasha Humek: violins;
Boris Midney: saxophone, drums

Produced & Arranged by 
Paul Levinson & Ed Fox

2000
I Knew You By Heart (Levinson - Rosenthal) Peter Rosenthal, studio demo 

Alpha Centauri (Levinson - Rosenthal) Peter Rosenthal, home demo

2005 
Lime Streets (Levinson) Paul, demo

2010
Tau Ceti (Levinson - Anealo) John Anealo, Paul harmony, home demo

If I Traveled to the Past (Levinson - Anealo) John Anealo, Paul harmony, home demo

Mitch Lewis (cousin of daughter-in-law Sarah) and Paul Levinson singing "The Soft of Your Eyes" at Simon and Sarah's wedding, 2010.

Is there any unreleased material?

Lots – ranging from the dozen or more songs that Ed and I wrote, to lots of songs I wrote with Stu that are not on the Spun Dreams album, to songs such as "Lime Streets," "Tau Ceti," "If I Traveled to the Past," etc. Pete has also written dozens of new songs. We performed two of them at our Ronkonkoma concert in August, and are going to keep performing them in our concerts.

Paul and daughter Molly, 1988.

What currently occupies your life?

Music was my first love and creative endeavor. I added writing – both science fiction and scholarly writing. When I was writing my doctoral dissertation in the mid-late 1970s, I was also writing a science fiction novel, and had the idea that I could write both, at the same time. But I soon discovered I wasn't making much progress on the dissertation, because writing science fiction was more fun. So I put the fiction aside – for 10 years, it turned out – and wrote only nonfiction. But then I got back to the science fiction, and now happily write both. People who read my scholarly nonfiction about the evolution of media sometimes say it reads like science fiction. People who read my science fiction sometimes say it reads like philosophy. I take them both as compliments. Both kinds of writing have won awards for me, and both sell pretty well. Lately, I've taken some of my books brought out by traditional publishers, and put them up myself on Kindle, under my own company, Connected Editions. Sort of a replay of HappySad Records. And my music continues to percolate. I'm a Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University in New York City, and I sometimes sing a song to my class.

Paul Levinson and Pete Rosenthal in concert, Ronkonkoma, NY, 2015.


Interview by Klemen Breznikar/2016
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