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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cosmic Michael - Cosmic Michael / After A While (1969-70 us, groovy acid psych rock, 2012 digi pak edition)

Late-'60s New York-based flower child Cosmic Michael is one of the scads of ultra-obscure recording artists from the original psychedelic era whose records were swept under the rug of time completely. Copies left from the astonishingly small initial pressings have been trading hands among collectors for obscene amounts of money, ranking Cosmic Michael's crude, handmade psychedelia with records of the same era by MIJ, Gary Higgins, and Kenneth Higney. 

This disc collects both of Cosmic Michael's private press albums, including a 1969 self-titled set and 1970's After a While. Unlike the drifting stoner vibes of most loner psyche records, Cosmic Michael's talent for boogie-woogie rock piano comes through as equally as the acidic jamming. Tunes like "River City," "Salty Jam," and of course "The Heavy Boogie" are mostly showcases for Michael's grooving boogie organ or piano skills, if couched in extremely muddy lo-fidelity recording quality. 

While the self-titled material sees the tunes filled out by a full band, the songs from After a While are of a more stripped-down orchestration, Cosmic Michael's voice in one speaker, piano in the other, and the occasional warbly kazoo or harmonica. While the sparsity of After a While makes it a more eerie affair, it's no less engaging than the fried boogie of the other songs. 

Even for his time, Cosmic Michael was by no means a career musician or even remotely concerned with professionalism in music. This innocence and oblivion are largely what makes these very odd songs such a breath of fresh air. 
by Fred Thomas

1. Now That You've Found It - 3:58
2. Salty Jam - 4:09
3. Theme - 3:46
4. Too Much - 2:55
5. River City - 2:11
6. People's Fair - 2:33
7. Mother Earth -  6:48
8. The Heavy Boogie - 4:26
9. Woodstock Nation - 3:04
10.She's My Girl - 3:55
11.Feel Free - 3:36
12.Rock Me - 5:21
13.After a While - 3:19
14.Shake It Loose - 1:30
15.Fine Spaces of Time - 4:30
16.Let Me Be - 3:41
17.Truckin - 3:18
All tracks written by Cosmic Michael
Tracks 1-8 from "Cosmic Michael" 1969
Tracks 9-17 from "After A While" 1970

*Cosmic Michael - Vocals, Piano, Harmonica, Guitar.

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Various Artists - Fading Yellow Vol.1 - Timeless Pop-Sike And Other Delights (1965-69 uk, revealing atmospheric beat psych pop)

This is a fine example of music that arose after the Beatles caught  "A Ticket To Ride". Running the gamut from jolly mid-60s beat-pop through to heavily orchestrated affairs from '69, "Fading Yellow's" overall concept of 'pop-sike' and more so 'other delights' is fully realised. 

Some may argue that by the end of the year a certain type of collector will be becoming hot under the collar on hearing mention of a rare '67  Ken Dodd acetate that features lush orchestration and sustained fuzz guitars! Diddy Men in the sky with diamonds, indeed! Cynicism aside, the psych/pop compilation is clearly becoming far poppier with the passing of time, and such a fine example as "Fading Yellow" sits perfectly on the cusp of the "Rubble" series most commercial selections and the more recent and uneven "Ripples" compilations (albeit a lot more interesting).

It's practically a gem after gem ride too. Mike 'Remember You're A Womble' Batt's mournful, sweeping ballad "Fading Yellow" is the perfect summation of what's on offer and is certainly worthy of having an entire compilation named after it. The strings, warm guitar parts and soft vocalising are sumptuous, and a good indication of what's in store. It really is a solid set, and possibly the greatest pop-psych comp to come out in years. 

Rather than focus on fifth-division acetate pressings of 'four Lancashire lads trying to be Syd Barret' everything included here is well performed pop saturated in that certain late '60s over-the-top production that so regularly gets classified as psychedelia. And there are plenty of obscure choice cuts to satisfy even the most hardened psych-head. Irish four-piece Jon's "Is It Love" has a great rising chorus, some oriental sounding instrumentation and a middle-eight that has a vague feel of the Troggs psych-pop phase. 

Juan & Junior (of Los Brincos fame) sound uncannily like Magna Carta on their whimsical folk-pop cut 'Andurina'. 'Woe, Is Love Dead My Dear?' the b-side of the Koobas rare Danish only 'Sweet Music' 45 sees the 'pudlians getting introspective on their beautifully performed rendition of this Bert Jansch piece (which he also recorded). And amongst the many other strong cuts from the likes of Eddy Howell, Ronnie Bird, Paul & Barry Ryan is American teen trio The Aerovons incredible "World Of You", which was recorded in Abbey Road in 1969. 

This not only rates as one of the best cuts on this album, but is also among the finest late '60s EMI discs (and yes, we're talking Pretty Things and Pink Floyd here too). (Rumour has it that their unreleased 1969 album will soon be available on Flower Machine).

Not only timeless, but in every aspect wonderful too. If only more compilations were as good as this.
by Jon 'Mojo' Mills

Artists - Tracks
1. Kate - Strange Girl - 3:03
2. Dean Ford & The Gaylords - That Lonely Feeling - 2:40
3. Eddie Howell - Easy Street - 3:00
4. Mike Batt - Fading Yellow - 3:44
5. Steff Sulke - Oh, What A Lovely Day - 3:04
6. John Williams - Flowers In Your Hair - 2:42
7. The Zephyrs - I Just Can't Take It - 2:30
8. Jon - Is It Love? - 2:51
9. Koobas - Woe, Is Love My Dear - 2:27
10.The Orange Bicycle - Competition - 2:40
11.The Gremlins - The Only Thing On My Mind - 2:05
12.Quintin E Klopjaeger And The Gonks - The Long Way Home - 2:28
13.Sundragon - Far Away Mountain - 2:57
14.Juan And Junior - Andurina - 3:10
15.Hamlet - She Won't See The Light - 2:08
16.Paul And Barry Ryan - Madrigal - 2:17
17.Phil Cordell - Red Lady - 2:25
18.Ronnie Bird - Sad Soul - 2:54
19.Ronnie Bird - Raining In The City - 2:36
20.Elliot's Sunshine - 'Cos I'm Lonely - 3:07
21.Peter Janes - Do You Believe (Love Is Built On A Dream) - 2:53
22.The Bliss - Lifetime - 2:47
23.The Jackpots - King Of The World - 2:50
24.Members Of Time - Dreamin' - 2:38
25.Aerovons - World Of You - 2:24

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