Take a trip with this magical all vinyl mix of unknown and obscure psych folk gems specially curated by Martin Dahl of Arkivet Podcast for MOOF Magazine.
Words by Martin Dahl
Junior Parker – Tomorrow Never Knows (Groove Merchant, 1971)
I’m no big fan of the bluesman Junior Parker but I really enjoy his great moody version of this historical LSD trip account, which is in stark contrast to the full-blown psychedelic journey that John Lennon takes you on.
Federal Duck – Piece In My Mind (Musicor, 1968)
Not a fully successful album, to me the music works best on the moody slow numbers, like ‘Piece In My Mind’, with its eerie and dark vibe.
Chris Lucey – Girl From Vernon Mt. (Surrey, 1965)
The legendary Songs of Protest and Anti-Protest album comes with one of the most bizarre background stories of the weird world of underground records. The story goes that a folk singer from New York called Chris Ducey (who later worked with Chris Smith aka Maitreya Kali) recorded an album for the budget label Surrey but just before signing the contract Chris managed to pull himself out of the project. However, as budget labels work in a hasty manner, the album sleeve had already been made with Chris Ducey’s name and song titles on it (and a photo of Brian Jones on the cover). Surrey was not late to respond and instead of shelving the record they changed the name to Chris Lucey and hired another musician to record the album using the song titles already on the sleeve. The musician they hired was the great Bobby Jameson, who unfortunately had a career full of bad decisions and misfortunes. He would later record two albums under his own name – the first, Color Him In, was produced by Curt Boettcher.
Suzanne – Shendah (Birchmount, 1969)
From another budget label, this time from Canada, comes the only album by the mysterious Suzanne (no last name is mentioned on the sleeve). Half of the songs are in a brill building/Burt Bacharach style while the other half was penned by member of A Passing Fancy and are all generally quite good, especially the dreamy delight ‘Shendah’. She reminds me of Margo Guryan in her whispering way of singing.
Hard Times – Blew Mind (World Pacific, 1967)
This is the title track of their only album and in my mind the best track (which was also released as a single – as heard here). One of the members, Rudy Romero, would later record an album for the interesting Colorado label, Tumbleweed Records.
Spring Fever – Sand (Splitsound, 1968)
The band was quite popular on the local scene in Tucson, Arizona and cut seven singles in total, which they released under several different names. For their last release they changed the name to Spring Fever and cut this single covering Lee Hazlewood’s ‘Sand’ on the A-side while the B-side was ‘Give Me Some Time’, a local hit which they had already released the year before (under the name The Grodes). Their most famous song nowadays is ‘Let’s Talk About Girls’, which was covered by The Chocolate Watchband.
Blues Section and Jim Pembroke – Only Dreaming (Love, 1967)
Jim Pembroke was born in England but moved to Finland in the 60s. He is today mostly known for being a founding member of the prog band Wigwam but prior to that he played in Blues Section, who released an album and a few singles on the Finnish Love Records before disbanding.
John Braheny – Free Fall (Pete, 1968)
A great album by this LA singer-songwriter with a unique blend of electronic experimentations, melancholic folk and psychedelic pop. His main claim to fame was that he penned ‘December Dream’, which was recorded by Stone Poneys (featuring a young Linda Ronstadt). This album is highly recommended for fans of eccentric singer-songwriters, such as Peter Kelley, Mark Johnson and Sixto Rodriguez.
Jean Le Fennec – L’abandon (Barcley, 1969)
An album filled with great over-the-top sound effects and studio tricks. Not all tracks are a winner but I still enjoy most of it. Jean Le Fennec was apparently from Belgium but the album was released in France and a Canadian pressing also exists.
Marc Brierley – Hold On, Hold On, The Garden Sure Looks Good Spread On The Floor (CBC, 1968)
Marcus Brierley’s debut album is a lovey piece of UK acid-folk with a jazzy edge. He released a second album the year after, but that did not come close to the psychedelic magic of his debut.
Gerry Pond – The Happiness Song (Reprise, 1966)
Gerry Pond was a folkie who was hanging around in the early days of Height-Ashbury’s hippie haven, playing alongside acts like The Grateful Dead. This Donovan-flavored single was Gerry Pond’s only release (the B-side is also excellent). Soon after this release he left his career as a professional musician to start his spiritual journey to become the kundalini yogi Guru Singh, for which he is known today. Guru Singh wrote a book, Buried Treasures, about his spiritual transformation but beware, anyone who hopes to find some information on his short-live musical career (as I did) will be disappointed.
Paul Parrish – Walking In The Forest Of My Mind (Music Factory, 1968)
Another Donovan-inspired folk musician, this time from Michigan. The album is suffering from too much orchestration, assumingly to make it more commercially attractive, but still contains some great pop-psych tunes, like the title track ‘Walking In the Forest (of My Mind)’ and ‘English Sparrow’. He would release two more albums but they are more straightforward singer-songwriter and not as interesting as this.
John Wonderling – Man of Straw (Loma, 1968)
Classic single released on a subsidiary to Warner Bros in September 1968. The A-side ‘Midway Down’ is also great and was later covered by The Creation. John Wonderling also released one of the rarest psychedelic major label albums, Day Breaks, in 1973. The album also includes ‘Man of Straw’ and is great throughout.
Owl – Aunt Cate is Dead (Onyx, 1970)
Post-Lazy Smoke and released on the same label as their classic private press album Corridor of Faces. ‘Aunt Cate is Dead’ is a fine pop-psych tune with backwards effects and great harmonies, the B-side is a slower number and is also terrific.
Gary Osborne – Grass (Kinney Music, 1971)
The album was recorded in 1968 (but not released until 1971) to showcase the music by two British singer-songwriters, Gary Osborne and John Bromley (who would cut an album with Fluer De Lys in 1969). According to John Bromley only 50 copies were made and it’s a pretty crude recording. The best track is Gary Osborne’s composition ‘Grass‘ and we all know it’s not his lawn he’s referring to!
Merrell and the Xile’s– Tomorrow´s Girl (Glenn, 1967)
This single was released on the small label Glenn before the release of the legendary Fapardokly album, which was put together from Merrell and the Exiles earlier singles (including this) and some newer recordings. To get a more psychedelic band name Merrell made up Fapardokly by merging parts of each of the band members names together. Merrell Fankhauser would later form the band Mu and create some of the most free-flowing and organic psychedelic music of the era (in my humble opinion).
Elizabeth – Fields of Home (Vanguard, 1968)
The band springs from Philadelphia and had a hit with their song ‘Mary Anne’. The album is a mix of up-tempo psychedelic pop, a few guitar-fueled tracks and some dreamy folk tunes, and it works quite well as a whole. One of the members, Bob Patterson, is an accomplished guitarist and was one of the zillion psych dudes that transformed into a rural singer-songwriter in the early 70s, and went on to release three interesting solo albums.
Orange Bicycle – Last Cloud Home (Parlophone, 1969)
Released as a B-side for ‘Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You’, this track did not make it to their debut and only album, released in 1970. Musically, the psychedelic pop on ‘Last Cloud Home’ belongs more to the Swinging London style a few years earlier than the heavy psych and prog sounds that filled the airways in 1969.
A New Place To Live – Moon Tune (Mandala, 1972)
Robert John Gallo was the mastermind behind A New Place To Live, a bizarre concept album about the apocalypse and collapse of the modern human civilization tinged with Christian symbology and messages. Part of the narration was that humankind should colonize the moon and that’s where ‘Moon Tune’ comes in. Robert John Gallo was also involved in the shady tax-scam business and released a few records on the notorious Guinness label.
Lee Mallory – That’s the Way It’s Gonna Be (Valiant, 1966)
This song has all of the characteristics of a Curt Boettcher production with great sound effects and studio tricks, and sugar sweet sunshine melodies. Lee Mallory would also later be a member of Millennium and Sagittarius.
Simple Simon and the Piemen – People of Time (Regency, 1967)
This was their only release and has that typical early psych sound that we all love.
Listen to the full mix here:
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