This blog is an extension of the Psych Trail Mix fanzine that had a run of 10 printed issues from Winter 2008 through Spring 2016. The Psych Trail Mix archive of full, free PDF files of the printed zine will continue to be hosted at this link. Print copies remain of the last 3 issues (8, 9, 10), see the main PTM page to purchase copies.


_________________________________________

02-16-2018 - HIGH ALL THE TIME: REVELATIONS OF MAD RIVER, MORGEN & NEEDLEDROPS

Well, its been a lot longer than I wanted to go between posts, but sometimes the busyness of life can get the best of you. The good news is that I've been inspired by so much music, and HIGH quality SOUNDING music lately, that I'm wound up like a psychedelic merry prankster at this point and ready to ramble on to all you freaks who really care about this stuff. Hey, I KNOW you're out there! GET ON THE BUS! In what seems like the never ending spiral into Mike Judge's "Idiocracy" movie turning into a documentary; incompetent reality TV buffoons as Presidents, the lame masses still spending their limited time on this planet caring about Kardouchians and "selfies," as well as WILLFULLY having their brains DUMBED-down to commercialized mush by auto-tune laden drivel as they are "wilin' out" to it in an overpriced pair of big, ugly, goofy-looking Air Jordan sneakers they can barely afford... We still have the MUSIC over here for those who haven't sold their souls in order to fit in with this auto-tuned jingle Mcdonald's-Sprite-commercial society we live in. Who the fuck would WANT to fit in with this cornball shit? But I digress.... I've always adopted the philosophy of Jello Biafra: I like to amass so much great music so that I'm never at the mercy of the horrendous "music industry" or the radio stations. And MAN what great music I have stumbled upon lately! Back to the "sound quality" of music I was speaking of earlier, let's talk about some upgrades and surprises I've encountered lately. Now I've had "vinyl rips" or as they've also been called "needledrops" in the past. These are where a vinyl record is transferred to digital. I've heard some in the past, but they always sounded sorta' half-assed and amateur at best. However, lately I've been turned-on to some QUALITY vinyl rips done by dedicated people who truly love the music. I've seen how revelatory these rips can be, often times it can be like hearing an album TRULY for the first time or re-experiencing it on a different sonic level than you ever have in the past. First example is the 1969 hard-psych masterpiece by Steve Morgen, "MORGEN" from NYC. For years I had the cd release on Radioactive Records, and as much as I loved this slab of arguably the best "hard psychedelic" rock album from the 60's ever recorded, I knew the Radioactive release was garbage when it comes to the quality of the audio. Recently, I got a hold of a rip of an original U.S. pressing from 1969, a promo copy in fact! Hearing this was an absolute revelation! It was WAY more clear and not the muddied muffled mess that the cd release I had owned for years was. The drums pounded through much more REAL sounding and that brain-massaging FUZZ guitar sounded better than ever. It was literally like experiencing the album for the first time.



If you haven't heard MORGEN and you're into heavy 60's psych I highly recommend it: it's hard psych, JUST enough hard and PLENTY enough PSYCH so that it's still HARD PSYCHEDELIC rock rather than venturing into too much of straight ahead hard rock. The perfect balance. My favorite song on this is "Purple" - it just drips with sustained acid-fuzz guitar, and psychedelic-trip lyrics of the highest order. There's actually an unreleased version of "Purple" that never came out due to some music biz nonsense. This song actually ties into the famous "Scream" front cover, the painting by Edvard Munch, Steve Morgen channels Munch in the song and there is much synchronicity between the two artists and their intentions in both the music and the artwork respectively. Read about all this in detail in issue #2 of Flashback Magazine where the entire story is uncovered for the first time about this long-time mysterious band. PDF purchase available, and I must also recommend it for an incredible interview with Stacy Sutherland of the 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS from 1977, the most substantive interview the man ever gave.



Another example of where vinyl rips shine is in the case of "never released on cd in mono before." A mono mix, in many cases, can reveal MUCH more detail in the music. It varies on what particular album we're talking about, but one of the biggest pieces of evidence I've seen in recent days is of KALEIDOSCOPE (U.S.) and their debut masterpiece "Side Trips." From 1967, this is one of the most diverse records from that year, it combines elements of folk, rock, psychedelia, and the musicianship is absolutely STELLAR! Well, the mono mix is COMPLETELY different, and essential as the companion to have with the stereo mix. Due to its scarcity, the mono vinyl has only recently been ripped to digital, and it's a beauty! "Egyptian Gardens" has more trippy sound effects, "Please" is a different edit, "Pulsating Dream" is a different tempo with a powerful punch that is missing from the stereo, and "Keep Your Mind Open," as said by the ripper is "finally the mind-melting anti-war masterpiece it was written to be." They are absolutely correct, it's incredible how much more clear the explosions and sound effects come through on this mono mix! My favorite song on this is "Pulsating Dream." I mean just look at these lyrics, very prescient, and more prevalent today than ever:

I feel the darkness of our Pulsating Dream,
Being held by those whose minds are unclean.
You love your power, but you're blind.
Our world can yet be spared from its fate.
If in our souls we can transcend all hate.
The time for love is fleeting by.

Bringers of darkness, hear what I say,
Your time has passed and you're in the way.
You'll have to learn to live today.




Another prime example of a "never released in mono on cd before" where a skilled needledropper has come to the rescue is the 1966 punkadelic classic "Revolution" by Dutch punks from the Netherlands, the mighty Q65. This album was actually originally released in mono in 1966, but in late '69 the producer remixed it to stereo. On nearly all reissues of the vinyl, they are the stereo mix. And of course all cd's are the stereo mix, and they all come with NR (noise reduction) applied excessively. Luckily, Pseudonym released the only quality reissue of this album in 2001 with the original mono mix! And luckily for us, a big fan of this band and skilled needledropper has done a beautiful rip of the mono reissue. When you hear it in mono, you realize THIS is how this record was meant to be - punchier, in-your-face, CRANKED! There is no comparison. These Dutch punks and their debut masterpiece in all its fierce, raunchiness is meant to be heard in the original MONO mix as intended. The stereo mix is clearly weak in comparison. Just listen to "Nightmares," is there another track that kicks you right in your ass as much as this? Seems like the punk bands that would come years later may have heard this, and most in fact have not topped its vicious snarl! These guys would have the poppy, so-called "punk" emo dorks of today peeing their pants and running back to the mall to find a corner of Hot Topic to hide in!



I'd be remiss if I didn't include this final example of a "never released in mono on cd before." Its been called LEONARD COHEN'S "Freewheelin," and I think that's an apt description for Leonard Cohen's timeless classic debut - "Songs Of Leonard Cohen" from 1968, an album of great depth and beauty. Rejected by Sony for their reissues, the mono is THE mix and essential to get the full sonic dimension that this breathtaking, atmospheric record contains. A dedicated fan with a nice rig/gear ripped the mono vinyl from a near-mint copy and it sounds absolutely beautiful. This is a masterpiece of a debut, and an album that truly ages like a fine wine. It's one of those records that you tend to rediscover again and again as you get older and evolve with time. LEONARD COHEN'S debut album in the mono mix is the warm sound in order for the cold winter season... I find myself going back to this again and again on many weekend mornings, spending my time with hot black coffee and the comfort of this beautiful, timeless record. I also found out a piece of info recently about this that I never knew... The band KALEIDOSCOPE (U.S.), as mentioned earlier in this post, was actually the backing band on this album! That little bit of info blew my mind!



Hell, while we're at it, howbout' one more fun fact about KALEIDOSCOPE? Fairuza Balk, the actress, is actually the daughter of Solomon Feldthouse, one of the founding members of KALEIDOSCOPE and responsible for many of the best songs of the band! This is another fact I never knew until recently. Say what you want, but I love "The Craft," the movie from 1996, and it stars Fairuza Balk as a non-apologetic mouthy high school outcast. A nineties classic! "We are the weirdoes, mister." "Punk rock! Let's go."



Now, you may be thinking that these vinyl rips I'm speaking of are nothing more than some eccentric hobby of an elite group of audiophile snobs, but that couldn't be further from the truth. If you're an actual fan of MUSIC, not the auto-tuned ear-vomit of today's "music industry," you want to hear the SOUNDS in the best possible quality for the listening experience, especially if you have a nice set of speakers, as every fan of music should. Even on compact discs, sometimes it takes some seeking in order to find the best source for listening, or in some cases even a LISTENABLE version! Speaking of, RODRIGUEZ'S classic "Cold Fact," the acid-folk Dylan-esque beauty from 1970. For a while, all I owned was the 2008 reissue on cd from Light In The Attic Records, and this disc is a victim of the "loudness wars" that began in the late 90's when it seemed that the record companies thought that volume knobs on stereo receivers ceased to exist. So with this version of Cold Fact, the volume is JACKED therein just CRUSHING the DR (dynamic range) of the album - and the Light In The Attic reissue on cd has a DR rating of 7. Do a little digging and you find a cd reissue from way back in 1991 on Trutone that destroys the later reissue and shines with a DR rating of 13, beating out the 2008 reissue by six points! I know I'm rambling about this, and I hope I'm not boring you, but rather ENCOURAGING you to dig a bit and look at different versions of albums. It could be the difference between a tedious, fatiguing, headache-inducing listen, or a beautiful lush soundscape for example with the 1991 Cold Fact reissue that contains a more airy mix with room around the instruments and such making for an infinitely better experience.



Many times it's not even a matter of a crushed DR/loudness war issue, it could come down to simply listening preference OR if you're like myself and enjoy in most cases listening to the album in the way it's meant to be heard - meaning a flat transfer direct from the master tapes. I was amazed at how far back in the history of compact discs you could need to seek for example. The psychedelic CLASSIC from 1968, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ESSENTIAL psych for all heads - I had the Sundazed cd for years since it was first released back in 2004. And while there is nothing wrong with the Sundazed, it's quite good in fact, I was turned-on to a cd release from 1987 (yes you heard it right) on Edsel Records that just blew me away! You want to talk about stereo separation, WOW! The drums almost sound like they're in a totally separate space! Upon some investigation, this release is much truer to the original vinyl. Many times in the early days of compact discs, if there was nothing wrong with the master tapes, a flat transfer was done straight from the tapes with no farting around with the sound whatsoever. One more quick example is the VELVET UNDERGROUND'S fourth album from 1970 - "Loaded." The disc you want that is most true to the Cotillian vinyl is a cd release from 1987 on "Warner Special Products." A much better and accurate listening experience with this version of the album. So again, you should do some digging on release versions and compare, it's worth it!



Moving on from the revelation of quality vinyl rips and seeking best cd reissues, I MUST share with you some of the many recent musical discoveries that I've been turned-on to! These are all highly recommended:

Mad River - S/T (1968)
Mind-blown several times over... How did I miss THIS album? Incredible... It's strange, it's mystical, it's dark-psychedelia (not bell-bottom trendiness/peace-signs or phony attitudes here), the vocals are just intense - I draw parallels to Arthur Lee on Forever Changes on this one, not kidding - that operatic, sort of grand style, or “quavering” its been called.... I think the vocals are what give much of the album its signature sound and charm, if you want to use the word “charm” with this dark side of the trip! The lead guitar work is top-notch with it’s wild schizo-psych-o-delic excursions. Primo psychedelia here, but proceed with caution on this one as it’s a rather dark heady trip not to be taken lightly or be taken with too much if ya dig what I mean. The fact that it ends with a lullaby “Hush Julian” is perfect, an eerily sort of comforting end to the mind-fuck that this album is.



Autosalvage - S/T (1968)
This is one of my biggest finds in the last year or so, just completely blew me away. I think this is highly underrated, it’s a top-notch psychedelic album and very unique. It’s got very metallic sort of rough guitar tone sounds and you can spot different influences in it, but to me it’s a psychedelic rock album with some clear blues influences, it’s hard not to get up, dance and groove when spinning this one. Don’t get turned off when I mention “blues,” this is in no way boring blues rock jams in any way, it’s psych as fuck to me. The female spoken word piece in the beginning about nature and “beautiful music” sets the tone. Their title track cleverly weaves actual automobile salvage with what they were really going for in the meaning (and the entire album in fact) - inner-salvation. “Great Brain Robbery” is one of my favorites on here, inter-locking groove guitar with far-out lyrics. There is some jug band influence, but I like to describe this in a way that won’t turn you off – think of it as sort of a jam band with BALLS, they have that vibe at points but they rock way HARDER than what may have you thinking of a stinky-foot sandal wearing type noodling around when you hear “jam band,” this stuff ROCKS and it’s PSYCH. The musicianship is top-notch, textured, just mind-blowing. “Parahighway” is another great one - trippy, inspiring message that resonates – “the highway from here on in is more lifelike than before, choose the way you want to go, everybody’s waiting there you know, we just want to let you know, anytime you want to go”….. I must also point out that this album is best digested IN FULL, meaning all one sitting… Like many great albums, it comes together as a whole and will leave your mouth agape at the end, wanting to spin it again…



Twentieth Century Zoo - Thunder On A Clear Day (1968)
Damn, SO GOOD. I heard a song by them on the excellent “Psychedelic Disaster Whirl” compilation several years back, but figured like many of those bands that they only recorded a single or two… Turns out these guys have an entire album! Out of Phoenix, Arizona, this band put together a bit of a concept album… Chock full of heavy fuzz guitar, feedback, psychedelic-inspired lyrics… Best songs for me are the cool-chill vibe that starts “Calm Before The Storm,” it builds and builds (like a storm-a-brewin’) into the psychedelic fuzzed-freak-out of “Rainbow,” just a killer 9 minute acid-fuzz drenched monster, DAMN, those tripped-out guitar solos! “It’s All In My Head” is probably my 2nd favorite off this, another acid-drenched fuzzed-out monster, also following the storm theme.. I love the fuzzed-out riffage with the acid-guitar leads accompanying the riffs in this one… Excellent acid rock, I highly recommend.



Strawberry Alarm Clock - Wake Up... It's Tomorrow (1968)
I remember loving this years ago when I first heard it, but I’ve recently rediscovered it. Most people know this band for their big hit “Incense And Peppermints,” and I love that song, but due to that, many people write the band off as too poppy or whatever.. In my opinion, THIS is the best Strawberry Alarm Clock album. Any preconceptions you may have should get thrown out a moving car window once you throw this on, these guys get into some deep tripped-out psych. A beautiful psychedelic album! Full of amazing soundscapes, lovely vocal harmonies, some great fuzz guitar. An absolute classic. “Curse of The Witches” is one of the best here, a 6+ minute mindbender, and the organ/bells combo with the fuzzed-out bass about 35 seconds in gives me chills every time. “They Saw The Fat One Coming” is another unusual, killer track with some bongo drums and things, very trippy. “The Pretty Song” which is known from the movie Psych Out has always been a favorite of mine, just dreamy beautiful psychedelic glory with deep, inspiring lyrics to live by. I’ve got the CD on Collector’s Choice and it sounds great.



Savage Resurrection - S/T (1968)
Don’t know why I held out so long on this album, GREAT stuff. Searing, dual fuzzed-out, sustained psychedelic guitar work laden with feedback, it all massages the brain quite nicely. Sure, they have one long blues-jam on this that taints the record a bit, but even that gets saved from being your average blues jam by the great guitar work within. But come on, songs like “Tahitian Melody,” “Talking To You,” “Thing In E,” “Expectations.” The guitar work is really what makes this gem shine. And to think these dudes were only 16 years old at the time!



The Tea Company - Come And Have Some Tea (1968)
I only ever briefly heard "Come And Have Some Tea With Me" and "Flowers," both killer mind-fuck tracks.. But recently delved into this entire record. This is a DAMN good trippy album! Not a dud song on it in my opinion. And it sounds like these guys were bathing in LSD throughout the recording. Even their cover of "Keep Me Hanging On" is done uniquely in their tripped-out way.. They have this song on it called "Love Could Make The World Go Round" - and you could argue the lyrics are dated or whatever... idealistic... but I love it, and I dig the message.. it's cool, they mention Dylan in it... and there's this subtle catchy as hell guitar riff behind it... There's trippy panning effects to the vocals... I have the reissue cd on World In Sound, but I’m waiting on a primo vinyl rip of a first pressing from a friend of mine!



High Tide - Sea Shanties (1969)
A MIND-MELTING slab of very HEAVY-fuzz guitar-freakout psychedelia here from 1969. Tony Hill, fairly fresh out of The Misunderstood, gives Jim Morrison style vocals in this epic masterpiece. Simon House, who was in Hawkwind, adds some beautiful violin to this and there are pieces throughout where the violin and delicate spots contrast the sheer HEAVINESS of this album for a nice balance that really give this record its unique signature. The album artwork is incredible as well! I’m listening to a vinyl rip of an original pressing, sounds killer! Think Jim Morrison fronting a heavy acid-fuzz band!



Morning Dew - S/T (1970)
I’ve heard this name-dropped for years, but recently gave it a couple listens this week and it’s an amazing album. Highly underrated in my opinion. Recorded in NYC in August of ’69, but not released until over a year later, it’s a mix of hard psych-rock and some great psych-folk as well, there's a nice diverse sweet balance overall on the entire thing. There’s some fuzzed-out psych, but also some great delicate songs like “Something You Say” with some lovely piano behind it. Highly recommended. I got a hold of  a vinyl rip of a reissue and it sounds fantastic! Been listening to this one a lot lately.



Van Morrison - Astral Weeks (1968)
This is one I’ve heard name-dropped time and time again, but I finally decided to delve in. I got into this record just at the right time because a few years ago (2015) a beautifully well-done remaster was finally released on CD (apparently something fans were waiting forever for), the sound is fantastic. I was always intrigued by the title of this as well as the beautiful nature album cover with Van’s face inter-weaved through some trees giving off a heavenly earthy-feel, and you get this vibe throughout the album. The music could be described as folk-rock with touches of jazz.. but it goes farther than that. This is the kind of thing perfect for late-night listening or a breezy fall day.. The music has an air of other-worldly mysticism, taking you on a spiritual journey from the time the first song, and my favorite on the entire album, “Astral Weeks” begins, all the way through the end of this hypnotic, beautiful record. The song “Astral Weeks” nearly brought me to tears when I first heard it, and it does the same on repeated listens. “Madam George” evokes the same feelings for me, and it’s another long epic, this one clocking in at over 9 minutes, but it never tires or bores. There is a LOT to take in with the full album here, and I think it’s similar in a way to Leonard Cohen’s debut where you can listen to it throughout your life and it takes on different meanings as you evolve through time. Van’s next album “Moondance” would feature the song “Into The Mystic,” but I think “Astral Weeks” is the album where he truly goes to that place. This is another one like Love’s “Forever Changes,” in that it was a commercial failure upon release, but now widely considered a timeless masterpiece. Again, I can’t recommend the 2015 remastered CD enough, it sounds absolutely beautiful with wonderful separation and the quality that this earthy, spiritual album deserves to be heard in.


_________________________________________


08-01-2017 - LOVE - FOUR SAIL: ARTHUR LEE'S UNDERRATED HARD-PSYCH MASTERPIECE

When people talk about Love and Arthur Lee, the album that is inevitably brought up is of course the marvelous masterpiece that is Forever Changes, released November 1967.



Arthur Lee & his genius were way ahead of the times as the album initially failed to be a big success, at least commercially, but today the album is widely regarded as one of the greatest records of all time, and undoubtedly, unabashedly, rightfully so. Ok, enough has been written already about the greatness of FC, right? I could go on and praise just how much I love the album, and believe me, I LOVE Forever Changes, BUT let's get to the meat n' potatoes of this post. Less than a year later in September of 1968, Arthur Lee, with some new hired guns, would begin recording one of the last true classic Elektra albums - FOUR SAIL


Arthur quickly managed to put together a new band, and "hired guns" as stated earlier, is surely an understatement as the new band is TOP-NOTCH; George Suranovich of Pittsburgh, PA is an absolute POWER-house on drums and in my opinion one of THE most underrated drummers in the history of rock music, Frank Fayad - a tall, lanky bass player with a killer tone, and on the recommendation of former Love band member Snoopy, we have Jay Donnelan on guitar providing absolutely blazing, hair-stand-up-on-your-neck, goosebump-inducing, ripping guitar leads!


The band would assemble and begin rehearsing not long after a rather disastrous east-coast tour the original Love lineup would embark on in support of "Forever Changes" in May of 1968, the tour plagued by many of the guys in the band being junkies addicted to heroin. I must point out that the date of this blog post is appropriate for a couple of different reasons and meanings; one being that August is the month this new incarnation of Love essentially formed AND the month the band would begin rehearsing the songs at Arthur's house, two - the album opens up with the song "August," we'll get much more into that song in a bit, three - the album was eventually released in AUGUST 1969. 


The title of the record is a clever spin/play-on by Arthur, representing his final time with Elektra Records as well as a nod to the Beatles' "Beatles For Sale" album. The story goes that Arthur owed Elektra one final album, so THREE album's worth of material was recorded and Elektra cherry-picked the songs they wanted, with the remainder coming out on Blue Thumb Records under the album title "Out Here," after the release of Four Sail. I think Elektra, for the most part, got the picks right, but a few omissions compelled me to re-work the album for my listening pleasure - I'll delve into that in a bit....


I admit, I ignored this album for years as every time I saw it name-dropped, the comments that followed were statements like "oh it's not even the original lineup," and "completely different sound, more hard rock." A friend of mine turned me on to Four Sail, insisting I check it out, and upon hearing it, I immediately realized that the critic's comments meant nothing. Yes, a completely different lineup than the original band - BUT in my opinion, just as good, and perfect for the sound that Arthur was going for on the album. This brings me to the "different sound, more hard-rock driven" comment... Admittedly, guitarist Jay Donnelan expected something in the vein of Forever Changes as he walked in to the rehearsals holding an acoustic guitar, but Arthur told him he's not doing that anymore.. Anyway, the "hard rock" comment would lead you to believe, as it did me, that you were getting some sort of arena-rock sound/style in the vein of Journey or Foreigner! That's at least what flashed in my mind when I read comments about the album, and due to those false pre-conceptions, I avoided it for years. Those thoughts that flashed in my head couldn't be farther from the truth. The TRUTH is that you get the best of both worlds here; the delicate sensitivity & genius take on the world that Arthur had, plus moments in the record you have a killer rock band, but to me it's hard-psych rock, not standard "rock n' roll" sound. And quite frankly, there are songs on here that sound like they could've easily held a happy home alongside other songs on Forever Changes.


Arthur took the band to a 'studio' which was really a house-converted studio (Arthur even called it a garage) and recorded the album on-the-cheap, later finishing touches were added at Elektra. Ok, on to the MUSIC. The first track on the album is easily my favorite - "August," a song started the month the band got together immediately dispels any of the previous critical comments I've heard - there's a full band going, but with a delicate touch consisting of Arthur's appregiated acoustic guitar strumming, then Jay Donnelan's guitar comes in launching the song off... Then you get a beautiful contrast to the somewhat manic sound of the drums and guitar as Arthur's signature one-of-a-kind falsetto vocals come in: "I said August is all that I know, it's with me wherever I go".... Again, goes back to my "best of both worlds" comment on the sound of this record. "August" completely blew my mind when I heard it.... It was like a revelation on lost-Love that I was now being embraced with and engulfed in.... The song goes on and the lyrics in both verses end with lines that would set the tone/mood of the album in that everything's gonna be alright; "It picks me up when I'm down," and "you pick me up when I'm dowwwwn." Just listen to George Suranovich's manic, thunderous drumming - it's like an embodiment of wild August weather in a way... The frenetic acid-laden guitar solo that rides the song out to the end is one of the single most mind-blowingly psychedelic things I've ever heard in my life, a complete mind-fuck. You're sitting there listening to this mind-melting solo that is extended, but tasteful, never once giving off the feeling of being overly self-indulgent.... I sit here listening to this thinking that it gives Hendrix a run for his money, no lie.... I think a trippin' Jimi would have his mind thoroughly blown listening to Jay Donnelan rip into that blistering, frenetic, shredding into the cosmos of the unknown and dimensions beyond, strips of multi-colored perforated lysergic paper flying about the beautiful chaos. HO-LY SHIT!


WARNING: Here I'm going to do something a little different and take you on MY trip: As stated earlier, I've swapped/added a couple songs here, removing some that Elektra chose, and replacing or adding my own picks that were from the same recording sessions but later released on "Out Here" a few months later. I like to think Arthur would approve of my swaps/additions.


I replaced "Your Friend & Mine - Neil's Song" with the song "Willow Willow." "Your Friend.." is not a BAD song, but I think it's not up to par with the other material on the record... And for my own listening experience, I felt the swap necessary... Bear with me, as I believe my swaps/additions create the PERFECT album. Now you may be sitting there reading this thinking that it's sacrilege to re-create an album to your liking and change the original.. But remember, these songs I'm adding are from the same recording sessions, plus ELEKTRA are the ones that chose the songs for Four Sail, not Arthur Lee. I think Arthur's picks would likely be something different, maybe more like mine, who knows. Back to this first swap - it puzzles me why Elektra didn't choose "Willow Willow" to be included, this song, without a doubt, sounds like it could have sat right alongside the other songs on Forever Changes. And it's just a beautiful acoustic song & melody using the metaphor of a flower growing to a young girl. The brilliant poetic genius of Arthur Lee.


In my alt. version of FS I pop in the Elektra-picked "Good Times" that was on the original album, this is a good rocking song to follow up after the mellow, majestic "Willow Willow." "Good Times" starts off mellow with some palm-muted guitar from Jay Donnelan, then picks up the pace into a foot-stomping/hand-clapping anthem that really shine a spotlight on Arthur's ability to delivery some powerful, soulful vocals. I love the message of the song as Arthur explains it as well as some of his philosophy on life in general: "Yeah, it's gonna be alright - all the stuff you're going through - it's gonna be alright." "Usually I think of what other people are going through in this life. Because I know everybody goes through changes, but it's gonna be alright in the morning. Don't sweat the small things, life's too short. I think a lot of worry and stress for some reason - this is my own opinion - has something to do with cancer. I think all the greed and all the money hungry people and all the worries about the dollar bill and all that worry contributes a lot to a person having cancer. I try not to get excited. No matter what happened I tried to stay the same. I programmed myself to stay by myself, like I did in the street - I'm sort of a loner type guy." "Good Times" also starts ROCKING hard, again with Jay Donnelan just ripping heads off with his unique, fluid, shredding leads. This song is a good time indeed, it's like a party...



After the hard-rocking "Good Times," I follow up with a couple of beautiful, mesmerizing numbers that in my opinion stand up as some of THE best songs that Arthur has ever written for Love, and I must say again, either one of these I believe could sit comfortably on Forever Changes. Original-album track "I'm With You" is a lovely, simple yet fluid song with some of the best dual-guitar interplay I've ever heard. Apparently, Arthur wrote this song about his trip to New York just prior to this album's creation and "walkin' down Broadway with you." The next song on my "alt" version of "Four Sail" is one that was not included on the original version of the album - "Listen To My Song" is one of the most beautiful songs Arthur has ever written, hands down. Breathtaking, transcendental, mystical song with some impressive classical guitar work from Jay Donnelan and Arthur Lee's angelic operatic vocals reminiscent of the Forever Changes era. Apparently, after Arthur's stint in jail, it was suggested by a fan to Mike Randle (current Love guitar player) that they start performing "Listen To My Song" at the live shows. A couple weeks later the song started to be included in the sets. Based on this, I like to think Arthur would approve of my inclusion of this song on "Four Sail."


I pop original Elektra-picked song "Robert Montgomery" next after those mellow songs. This song is about Arthur living in South L.A. and coming back to his old neighborhood and seeing people there. It's been said to even sound like an early prog-rock song, and Jay Donnelan's guitar work is brilliantly displayed here. Again, Arthur's operatic vocal-style kicks in with "and we'll give you our best..." giving the song more depth, beauty and dimension as Arthur Lee had the ability to do. Original Elektra-picked "Nothing" follows, a great mellow song that Arthur describes the meaning of as "life is short." I keep going back to this, but again with "Nothing," like many songs on this album that have this flavor to them, this song could easily fit on something like the "Da Capo" album, just a great song. Next I decided to replace the Elektra-chosen "Talking In My Sleep," with "Gather Round." "Talking In My Sleep," while not a bad song, and it certainly has some nice guitar work by Jay that made me think more than twice about replacing it, but overall I thought "Gather Round" was a more meaningful and just better song overall. One of the only songs I've heard where Arthur gets CLOSE to "political" you could say, but Arthur does it in a much more clever way. The lyrics apply even more so today, speaking of greed and corruption: "he struts all around with his tailor made suits, but his mind is all filled up with bullshit."  I love the near choir-like chants in the back of "yeah, yeah, yeah, yeaaaah."


I pop Elektra-chosen album original "Dream" next, another of the great mellow songs on here that leave me puzzled as to why some critics critique this record as "just veering into hard rock." The song is about Arthur coming back from that ill-fated tour of New York to be with his girlfriend after his bandmates succumbed to the lure of heroin. The song title itself reflects the feel of the song, it gives off a dreamlike atmosphere. I dig the contemplative question of "wonder if there's a God" in this. Next is another wisely-chosen Elektra pick with the only song that has a co-credit on it of guitarist Jay Donnelan as well as Arthur - the thunderous chug-a-chug-a-chug-a rock-out addictive "Singing Cowboy," with some of the best screaming vocals from Arthur Lee and that incredible shredding guitar from Jay Donnellan just fucking ripping. This record has been said to have a "rough mix," but I think it's perfect for the mood/feel of the album, and the loud up-front in the mix vocals especially shine for "Singing Cowboy," Arthur really lets it all out here, almost possessed by an old shaman in the vein of Jim Morrison in "The End" where Jim lets loose toward the end of the song with the "fuck, fuck yeah, baby fuck yeah." Jay Donnelan wrote the music, Arthur wrote the lyrics for this song. Arthur explains the song: "After you shoot somebody, their ghost is going to haunt you. 'look out I'm coming after you.' Not in this life, but in your conscience."


Lastly, on my alt version of FS is Elektra-pick, and really the only way to close this record. "Always See Your Face" is one of the most beautiful ballads ever written by Arthur, who also plays some lovely piano throughout. Arthur has claimed before that the song is "not complete" and that it "lacks musicianship," but man, it's just PERFECT. I think it's the simplicity of it that gives this song much of its beauty and charm. It was meant to be like this. The song was featured in the 2000 movie "High Fidelity" with John Cusack, which Arthur was happy about.


So that is my re-working of Four Sail, and in my opinion, it creates the PERFECT album and listening experience. I must say, lately I've been listening to this record more than any of the other Love albums, yes, even the masterpiece that is Forever Changes. Below is the artwork that I've created for my personal re-working of the album, CLICK HERE for full-sized versions if you choose to use them for yourself and create the same alternate Four Sail as I have.


As far as touring, the "Four Sail" tour of 1969 with the original members from the album, including the badass guitar of Jay Donnelan, consisted of the below tour itinerary:


'FOUR SAIL' TOUR 1969

February 28 – Avalon Ballroom: San Francisco, CA
March 1 - Avalon Ballroom: San Francisco, CA
March 2 - Avalon Ballroom: San Francisco, CA
April 23 - Whiskey a Go-Go: West Hollywood, CA
April 28 - Whiskey a Go-Go: West Hollywood, CA
May 30 - Rose Palace: Santa Monica, CA
May 31 - Rose Palace: Santa Monica, CA
June 21 - Newport ’69 Festival: Devonshire Downs, North Ridge, CA
July 2-July 6 - Whiskey a Go-Go: West Hollywood, CA
July 17 - Hullabaloo (Aquarius Theatre): Los Angeles, CA
August 1 - Portland Masonic Temple: Portland, Oregon
August 2 - Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum: Oakland, CA

August 15-18 - WOODSTOCK, New York-declined

August 23 - Vancouver Pop Festival: Vancouver, Canada
September 13 - Balboa Park: San Diego, CA
Summer 1969 - Shrine Auditorium, CA

Yes, you read it correctly: Arthur Lee declined the invite to play Woodstock! Arthur didn't like venturing far from Southern California. Guitarist Jay Donnelan explains further: "I don’t think Arthur liked airplanes very much. Also, with the redneck condition of the United States at that time, he didn’t like to get involved in all of that. I’m sure that was part of it. I don’t think he thought there was much money to be made out on the road. And there were so many great gigs in and around Southern California. All he had to do was get in his car and drive to the show. I was at his house and an agent phoned him. I remember hearing Arthur say, ‘Naw Fuck it, I don’t want to go to New York for one gig!’ I later found out that the 'one gig' was Woodstock."


There is rumored to be about 15-20 minutes worth of footage of the original Four Sail lineup playing at Newport Pop Festival on June 21, 1969, but the footage has never surfaced... The only thing that HAS surfaced from it is the very brief footage as seen in the screen-shot of Arthur and Jay earlier in this post, and even that footage has some other song played over top of it rather than the sound of the band playing. It's a damn shame that no video footage or even live recordings have surfaced of the Four Sail era with the magnificent JAY DONNELAN on guitar. We DO however have footage from the Four Sail era of all the original band from Four Sail EXCEPT Jay Donnelan, instead Gary Rowles fills in, and while Gary is an excellent player, I personally don't think he had the seamless fluidity that Jay had in his playing that made Four Sail a hard-psych masterpiece to me.


The Four Sail era footage I speak of is from a brilliant documentary on the band that aired on Danish TV called "A Group By The Name of LOVE." Airing on July 17, 1970, the TV special includes some really groovy interviews with Arthur Lee (Arthur is so trippy in these interviews that you can almost see the third eye on his forehead), some music videos for some songs, and BEAUTIFUL live footage of the band performing in Copenhagen, Denmark on March 12, 1970. From the start of the special, when they show the band getting off the plane as they land in Demark, walking down a corridor of the airport with the Beatles "All You Need Is Love" playing, through to the end of the doc, it's incredibly well done.  Again, while not including the psych-guitar god majesty of Jay Donnelan on guitar, this well-done 38 minute TV special remains THE single best video document in existence of the early hey-day of Arthur Lee & Love - AND luckily for fans of "Four Sail," it is within that era, so we get treated to some amazing live performances of songs like "August," "Good Times," "Doggone," among others. 


I whipped up some artwork for the DVD I have of this incredible Love footage, CLICK HERE for a full-sized version of the below image to use if you'd like.


The general consensus among Love fans today is that Four Sail is a great record, although most don't rate it as high as Forever Changes. I might be in the minority in thinking that this album, well... at least my re-working of it, is just as good as Forever Changes. There, I said it! Especially in this era of the United States seemingly going backward into what Jay Donnelan called Arthur's dislike of the "redneck condition" of the country, this album of looking inward, reflecting, loving and even THINKING is refreshing and good food for the soul. It's the perfect antidote as you drive around and see the worship of the American flag and law enforcement going on here in 'Murica with a complete and total incompetent buffoon at the helm of it all. Rather than displaying a massive, obnoxious American flag in front of your home in this panicked state of nauseating bloated-patriotism going on and firing up the grill to guzzle beer and fart burnt beef and cheese, throw on Four Sail this AUGUST instead and indulge in things a bit more mind-expanding - something this record even in and of itself is. This album came along at a perfect time in my life, it's like it was meant to be, I hope that you find as much joy and enlightenment in it as I have.

Below is a Four Sail poster ad that I framed and hung here in the Psych Trail Mix lair. It's a special album, so I thought this piece deserved to be framed and displayed. You wouldn't think it upon first glance, but the album cover is actually very trippy if you look at it in a certain mind-state, if you dig what I mean. It's a simple photo of the band, but it has a sort of visual distortion that's really trippy, and there appears to be a window to the band's right side, so it adds a strange element to it. Arthur seated in some sort of grand Victorian chair, it suits him well. Photo was taken by Ed Caraeff. Arthur was quiet and mellow and the photo was taken somewhere up in Laurel Canyon. That's all that's known, the mysterious aspect of it fits the album perfectly.


_________________________________________

05-20-2017 - IT JUST ABOUT BLEW MY MIND: PAUL WILLIAMS, CRAWDADDY, BOB DYLAN & SWARTHMORE, PENNSYLVANIA

“Folk, Rock, & Other 4-Letter Words” - A great Dylan piece from Paul Williams, founder of rock music’s very FIRST fanzine in which he started at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania in 1966 – Perhaps this was a topic of discussion when Paul hung out with Dylan at the hotel in Philadelphia in February of ’66 before the show at the Academy of Music. This article was pretty much immediately after that encounter with Dylan, even sooner than the great, and even better - “Understanding Dylan” article he wrote in issue #4 of Crawdaddy (Aug ’66), this piece comes from Crawdaddy issue #3 from March 1966, exactly a month after his Dylan hang-out session. Dylan fired-back heavily at press-conferences and things during this time anytime anyone asked him about “folk rock.”







After putting out 10 issues of my own fanzine “Psych Trail Mix,” it just about blew my mind when I recently found out that the first rock music fanzine ‘Crawdaddy’ was created literally down the street from me in SWARTHMORE, PENNSYLVANIA by Paul Williams when he was a freshman at Swarthmore College in 1966.





It gives me a bit of pride to live here in an area that generally just seems swamped with people who are overly obsessed with the local sports teams and little else. Often times ‘zines are much more informative than full-on commercial magazines, as authors of zines are fans of the material they cover and very passionate about their writing. Paul Williams was one of those people. Bob Dylan called Swarthmore College in 1966 after being impressed with Paul’s writing and invited him to the hotel in Philadelphia where he was staying for 2 shows he would play at the Academy of Music on Feb. 24th and 25th…. Paul came prepared for an interview, but was so honored in the moment that he decided to just hang out with Dylan rather than coming across as a journalist which Bob was growing tired of at that point to say the least. This meeting likely spawned a GREAT article that Williams penned in issue #4 of Crawdaddy from July 1966 called “Understanding Dylan,” here’s scans of the entire article.


















_________________________________________

05-20-2017 - FUZ! – SHORT-LIVED, BUT INCREDIBLY ORGIASTIC PRINTED PSYCHEDELIC FANZINE

There were only ever TWO issues of Fuz magazine, but they were both cool as fuck. I totally lucked out one day at Princeton Record Exchange in Princeton, New Jersey a handful of years ago when I found BOTH issues that had been long-out-of-print. LOADED with full-page photos and killer articles... The Davie Allan issue here has great articles on FUZZ GUITAR, and on 60's psych movie goddess Mimsy Farmer. The other issue centered on HAWKWIND and featured LEMMY on the cover! Also, you MUST get to Princeton Record Exchange in Princeton, New Jersey if you are anywhere near the tri-state area in the northeast, it is by far one of THE best independent record stores that is still standing despite the convenience of the digital age. Right down the road from Princeton College, it's got a nice magazine/book rack, loads of new cd's, TONS of vintage vinyl, walls upon walls of bargain cd's, and LOADS of DVD's. It's a favorite stop that I try to frequent as much as I am able to make the ride of just under an hour.



FUZ - Issue #1 (some samples)









FUZ - Issue #2 (some samples)










_________________________________________

05-20-2017 - FOG, AMPHETAMINE & PEARLS: THE MAMMOTH, 36-DISC, TREASURE-TROVE BOX SET OF DYLAN'S INFAMOUS ’66 WORLD TOUR

Released last November 2016, was a beautiful 36-disc box set of every known recording from Bob Dylan’s controversial “world tour” 1966. Controversial in that Dylan was booed and jeered in many places, some worse than others, as he played his very loud blend of rock & roll or “mathematical music” as he called it at times back then… And that might be a more accurate description, because Dylan is just on a ‘nother level when it comes to his music and lyrics, so much that you can’t just pigeonhole it under the “rock and roll” umbrella – Dylan’s music is more a journey through space and time that leaves you discovering new meaning upon repeated listens. Many of the folk-purists couldn’t comprehend or handle the transformation of their topical-song hero or the rightfully dreaded by Dylan title of “voice of a generation,” as many of them thought Dylan was. This box set includes audience tapes where soundboard/line recordings are not available. A few of the recordings are the real “choice nugs” here, meaning the CBS Records recordings of a couple of the shows.





One thing to understand about this tour/set is that each night consisted of the first half being Bob solo on acoustic guitar, and the second set of the night features Bob with a full kickass & take names electricity-fueled band behind him. So we get the best of both worlds here. I must share a quote that I agree with from a recent review of this set in regards to the acoustic portion of the sets here…. There’s something about the immaculately-stoned Dylan on those acoustic sets from that tour, and this quote hits the nail on the head in regards to what I’m talking about here:

“However, something is happening, as the man said. Certainly from 4th Time Around, Dylan sounds different. It's the first time in this collection, to my ears, that he sounds noticeably stoned. On the evidence of this tour, this can improve things - certainly in the acoustic set: it brings out a wounded quality in the music. Call me an apologist, but I love listening to Dylan play like this when he's not quite all there. The vowels are dragged out. The songs become something else.”

Ok, after a rather lengthy intro here, let me delve in and share some of my favorite recordings from this set and my observations on them. This topic will likely be continued in a future post, considering just how vast this set is, it’s a lot to cover!

May 26, 1966 - @ Royal Albert Hall in London, England (Disc #28  &  #29)
The “Real Royal Albert Hall” show 5-26-66 is clearly the best quality recording from the new Dylan live ’66 box – it’s one of the “CBS” recordings as opposed to one of the regular soundboard recordings from the set… The performance is amazing. Possibly THE best live “Visions of Johanna” ever… To hear a show from this tour in this sound quality is amazing. He spits the words like venom in an absolutely KILLER version of "Like A Rolling Stone" from the electric set! The audience interaction between Dylan and the pissed folk-purists is priceless….. At one point Dylan replies “come up here and say that”….. too funny… This treasure-trove was worth every penny.



May 27, 1966 - @ Royal Albert Hall in London, England (Disc #30)
2016 was a giant clusterfuck... An orange, bloated, buffoon from a reality TV show who clearly has ZERO business being in any sort of leadership position was elected president ... we truly are living in IDIOCRACY now.. but we always have Dylan. The final show of the '66 tour from the box set - 5-27-66, second night at the Royal Albert Hall in London, has Dylan absolutely burned out. The electric set he's pretty out of it, it's chaotic...shambolic.... But I think this acoustic set stands up as one of the best from the tour hands down. This show was another of the CBS recordings, so the sound is pristine and you can hear Dylan again enunciating every syllable, getting every little nuance out - "he's going to the CAARnival tonigh-t on de-sol-ation rooooow."





Earlier that day Dylan visited John Lennon's home "Kenwood" in Weybridge (below)



May 6, 1966 - @ ABC Theater in Belfast, Northern Ireland (Disc #7  &  #8)
Belfast, Northern Ireland 5-6-66 is clearly another standout recording from the new Dylan box. This is one of the soundboard recordings thanks to Dylan sound-man Richard Alderson, who should be crowned a saint for this, if I were religious perhaps I’d try to make that happen! The FULL “Desolation Row” here is a beautiful thing, as due to tape lengths during that time, the song is cut on a number of the board recordings. Maybe the omission of “Baby Blue” made that happen, a doable swap as we have many full versions of Baby Blue on all the other recordings from this box set. Electric set from this show is fantastic too – the fairly restrained performances from when they were in the states is eroding away now as the band hammers an intense rocking set. Bob’s voice is definitely a main presence in the mix, but not nearly as piercing as some of the other board recordings. Garth Hudson’s swirling organ is great in this and shines in the mix. Resounding applause at this show once the band begins “Like A Rolling Stone,” so the entire tour wasn’t pissed folkies in the crowd screeching in disapproval.





May 16, 1966 - @ Gaumont Theater in Sheffield, England (Disc #17  &  #18)
The 5-16-66 show in Sheffield, England for the Dylan ’66 box is another standout, especially the ACOUSTIC set. This was going to be another one of the more elaborate “CBS Recordings,” but CBS was only able to capture the acoustic half, apparently the electric set was too loud for the setup they had. They weren’t used to trying to professionally record a live, LOUD rock show of this magnitude at that time in 1966. Luckily, Dylan’s sound-man Richard Alderson was recording from the board and captured the electric half. The acoustic half is one of the BEST of the entire tour – Dylan enunciates every syllable, and delivers the songs with an intimate, intense, ethereal quality that is hard to top as far as the other acoustic sets of this box/tour. It’s clear that he still had an affection for songs from his acoustic arsenal. Why did the folk-purists bitch and whine so much? I mean he did a mind-blowing acoustic set first before launching into the electric, venomous assault, spewing the words with intent and rocking out HARD. Oh, the electric set from Richard Alderson’s recording directly from the board sounds damn fine honestly….. Bob’s vocals are a bit high in the mix, but everything else shines well. Also, its been said that Dylan was dead sick of doing solo-acoustic tunes by this point, but honestly, would he have chosen to perform such epic, lengthy songs such as “Desolation Row,” and even “Visions of Johanna” if that were the case? I think he still knew that stuff was great.

Directly Below: Interior of Gaumont Theater in Sheffield + Dylan on Streets of Sheffield, England





May 24, 1966 - & L’Olympia in Paris, France (Disc #26  &  #27)
The Paris show on Bob’s birthday 5-24 from the live ’66 Dylan box is another one of my favorites from the set. Next to the crown jewel, the “Real Royal Albert Hall” show, I think it has some of the best sound quality of any of the board recordings here… On some of the other shows Bob’s voice is WAY high in the mix, I think on this show it’s a sweet balance. The show has been entrenched in mystery and intrigue for years, here we get to hear what really went down. Loads of interaction with the crowd…. Dylan gets a bit testy with them during the acoustic set when an audience member keeps hollering while he is trying to tune his guitar, Dylan replies “you just can’t wait can you huh… you just can’t wait? You have to go to work at 10 o’clock huh? Alls a drag to me too you know. But that’s folk music for you, folk music does that all the time.” And “didn’t you bring a magazine to read or something?” “oh come on I wouldn’t behave like this if I came to see YOU. Well then don’t be so BORED.. it’s fun, just watch me tune it. I want to get out of here as fast as you want to get out of here.”

In Paris, Dylan also spends some time with foxey Francoise Hardy and Billy Hallyday and blows out candles on his birthday cake (below)









Judas! – Book By Clinton Heylin
HIGHLY recommend this book, "Judas" by Clinton Heylin. It's a historical look at what's been called the "big boo," about when Dylan went electric in 65/66..... Covers the World Tour of 66 in detail along with tons of show reviews from journalists who didn't get it, and those who did get it. Tons of interview segments from Dylan when he was fucking with the press, and the moments when he gave good information when he didn't find the interview question stupid... His philosophy during this time was to answer a stupid interview question with a stupid answer. Anyway, this is required reading for Dylan fans and an absolute PERFECT complementary piece to this amazing box set!



CLICK HERE TO TRIP BACK TO PSYCH TRAIL MIX MAIN PAGE