Two Obscure Albums You Need to Hear

The illustrious (and print-only) London-based Shindig! Magazine ought to be as famous as Mojo and Uncut. It’s not; not yet. As it happens, I write occasionally for Shindig! Several years ago the mag ran a short version of my long piece on legendary no-hit wonders Green Fuz. In 2010 my full-length feature on The Remains (the Boston-based rock/r&b band that toured the USA with the Beatles) ran in the magazine. Also in 2010 I got my first cover story in the mag, a story about Paul Revere and the Raiders. And earlier this year, my second interview with Van Dyke Parks ran in Shindig!

Recently the editors reached out to a number of their favorite contributors, asking for help in compiling a list of what they called “50 U.S. Psych Albums You Need to Hear.” I encourage you to lay your hands on the print issue #28 (full of other great features as well, by the way), because it describes a number of albums you probably haven’t heard (but should.)

My contributions were brief essays on a pair of off-the-wall releases. Here they are. Both of these records are in my vinyl collection.

The Nat Adderley Sextet – Cannonball Adderley Presents Soul Zodiac
This curious album – originally a double LP in a gatefold sleeve – came out in 1972, but you could have easily guessed that. When else could a major label (Capitol/EMI) have released such a left-field combination of soul, jazz, funk, screaming rock guitar and spoken word(!) upon an unsuspecting world? Radio DJ/personality Rick Holmes writes and narrates this exploration of the twelve signs of the zodiac, components of what he endearingly (and insistently) calls the “so-lahr sys-tem.” Behind him, the Nat Adderley SextetErnie Watts on sax and flute, bassist Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy on drums, Wrecking Crew mainstay Mike Deasy on lead guitar, George Duke on Fender Rhodes, and Nat on cornet – turns in some genre-expanding music that, in the end, is more accessible (and a helluva lot more fun) than Bitches Brew. Cannonball Adderley (sax on two tracks) and David Axelrod provide top-notch production.

Timothy Leary – You Can Be Anyone This Time Around
“Hey, Jimi, it’s me….Tim. I hear you, Stephen Stills, Buddy Miles and John Sebastian jammed last night. Any chance that you could send me some tape from that session? I’m sure you recorded it. Y’see, I have this rap I wanna do about how cool LSD is, and I need some musical backing for it.” That’s probably how it went when Leary put together this three-track LP. “Live and Let Live” does indeed feature the famous – if slightly noodly and meandering – musical summit (Stills on bass), and the other two tracks are interesting as well. The title track proto-samples liberally from Beatles and Stones records (plus a curious citation of The Grateful Dead that sounds instead like Pink Floyd‘s “Pow R Toc H”), and “What Do You Turn On When You Turn On” features hippie-exploito-film style music, but it’s all in good fun. Right?

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