In The Land Of FREE we still Keep on Rockin'

Plain and Fancy

"I hope for nothing, I fear nothing, I am free"

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Freeborne - Peak Impressions (1967 us, exeptional psychedelic experimantal rock, Collector's Item Vinyl reissue)



The Freeborne were a youthful Boston-based psych outfit whose five members, despite their tender years, all had considerable experience of playing a wide range of styles in earlier combos. Adapting their name from the movie Born Free and discovering the freewheeling creative delights of LSD, they signed to Monitor in early ’67 and concocted a set of highly psychedelic originals which were laid down at A&R Studios in NYC. Peak Impressions sold only modestly, probably because of a dilatory campaign of live appearances to support it. 

After the lukewarm reception afforded it the original Freeborne folded, though later incarnations with fewer or no original members did tramp the second-division concert circuit for a few years afterwards. Inexplicably, given their obvious talent, only guitarist Bob Margolin seems to have had an appreciable later career, playing in Muddy Waters’s backing band through most of the 70s and subsequently with blues-based outfits under his own name. There’s precious little documentation on the band anywhere, but the excellent It’s Psychedelic Baby website features an informative career interview with Margolin which includes insights into the Freeborne.

I was expecting this one to be good, having read complimentary accounts of it in both Fuzz Acid And Flowers and The Acid Archives. I was even more impressed when it arrived and the CD remaster proved to have been archived by Smithsonian Folkways whose estimable moniker now adorns the Digipak. And this is indeed an impressive collection. It’s notable for the virtuosity of the musicians whose ages ranged from just 17 to 19 and yet three of whom were precociously-talented multi-instrumentalists: and we’re talking orchestral hardware here – pianos, harpsichords, cellos, trumpets, flutes and recorders – not just standard rock frontline. 

It’s also remarkable for the variety and creativity of the material; one reviewer commented that there seemed to be too many ideas to fit into a single album, and I can see his point. Youthful enthusiasm ensured that nothing was left out and nothing left understated, and most tracks move through bewildering sequences of keys, metres, instrumentation and vocal stylings that give their definitively psych outlines a distinctly progressive edge. This is one to listen to right through several times to get the whole effect.

The lyrics are mostly generic trippy psych nonsense, but the music is invigoratingly original. Leading off with a soulful piano riff, the opening “Images” offers Byrdsy harmonies, pulsating bass and rippling guitar scales before switching into a baroque piano and trumpet waltz. “Land Of Diana” prefigures 70s prog, starting as a jazzy 5/4 and shifting into a bluesy shuffle after distinctly proggy organ and guitar episodes. “Visions Of My Own” sets a homely acoustic guitar and trilling flute against what sounds like a chorus of PDQ Bach’s infamous Dill Piccolos before mutating without warning into a military snare-drum march. “Peak Impressions And Thoughts” is all Piper-era Floyd with swirling Farfisa, spiky Syd-style guitar, fluid bass and crashing cymbals building to a furious final crescendo. “Yellow Sky” is definitive Britsike with wah-ed guitars, churchy keyboards and lots of tempo changes. 

The most conventional track, “Hurtin’ Kind Of Woman”, is a soft blues shuffle with jazzy guitar and energetic Hammond work comparable with the best of Brian Auger. Despite the multifarious musical landscapes visited here, only on the last two tracks does the band outstretch itself, with the ridiculously sombre harpsichord and cello, sub-Beach Boys harmonies and cod-poetic spoken voice outro of “A New Song For Orestes” and the unnecessarily lengthy and self-indulgent cod-classical piano/trumpet cadenzas and duet of the closing “But I Must Return To Frenzy”.


Tracks
1. Images (Nick Carstoiu, Mike Spiros) - 3:38
2. Land Of Diana (Mike Spiros, Nick Carstoiu) - 2:56
3. Visions Of My Own (M. Spiros, N. Carstoiu, B. Greenglass) - 4:10
4. Sadly Acknowledged (J.Babbitt, M. Spiros) - 1:27
5. Peak Impressions And Thoughts (Dave Codd, N. Carstoiu) - 6:56
6. Yellow Sky (J.Babbitt, M. Spiros, D. Codd, N. Carstoiu) - 2:23
7. Hurtin' Kind Of Woman (Bob Margolin) - 4:24
8. Inside People (Dave Codd) - 2:50
9. A New Song For Orestes (Dave Codd) - 3:37
10.But I Must Return To Frenzy (N. Carstoiu, M. Spiros) - 9:06

Freeborne
*Lew Lipson - Drums, Percussion
*Nick Carstoiu - Guitar, Recorder, Cello, Piano, Vocals
*Bob Margolin - Lead Guitar
*Mike Spiros - Organ, Piano, Chimes, Trumpet, Percussion
*Dave Codd - Harpsichord, Percussion, Bass, Vocals

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Various Artists - Phantom Guitars: A Cool Collection of Twangin' Instrumentals (1961-64 uk, sharp spooky garage beat 'n' roll, Psychic Circle release)



One of England's first noteworthy rock group was the Shadows, and their polished instrumental style, with Hank Marvin's twanging Stratocaster leads way out in front, set a template that a great many U.K. bands would follow until the Beatles and the Rolling Stones upended everything in 1963. 

Nick Saloman of the Bevis Frond delivers another enjoyable look back at the history of U.K. pop with Phantom Guitars: A Cool Collection of Twangin' Instrumentals from the UK 1961-1964, which collects 25 rare selections from the days when Duane Eddy, Jorgen Ingmann, and Lonnie Mack were still forces to be reckoned with on the pop charts. If you're looking for startling originality, there's little to be had here, but if you dig ringing single-note leads with plenty of string bending and whammy-bar action, this disc is 56 minutes of aural manna from heaven. 

Dennis Newey's "Title Unknown" gets high marks for wit, familiar melodies get a workout on "Temptation" by Bobby Taylor and "Bizet as It Were" by the Players, "Circlorama" from the Champions salutes a little-remembered innovation in motion-picture technology, and the Violents and Group X both deserve to be cited for their remarkably cool names, even if their music didn't quite live up to the billing. As with the lion's share of releases from Saloman's Psychic Circle label, this set includes well-written liner notes that pass along what's known about the artists, and the mastering is good despite these rare recordings being sourced from vinyl discs. 

The instrumental rock scene was a vitally important part of the rise of homegrown British rock, and if this deals in obscurities rather than hits, Phantom Guitars documents how pervasive this sound once was, and how many great pickers were making the rounds in the early '60s. 
by Mark Deming


Artists - Tracks
1. The Falcons - Stampede - 2:23
2. The Krew Kats - Jack's Good - 2:28
3. The Phantoms - Phantom Guitar - 2:32
4. Bobby Taylor - Temptation - 2:20
5. The Hunters - The Storm - 2:10
6. Dennis Newey - Title Unknown - 2:29
7. The Executives - No Room For Squares - 2:21
8. The Nu-Notes- Fury - 1:58
9. The Cougars - Fly-By-Nite - 1:44
10.The Champions - Circlorama - 2:11
11.The Fentones - The Mexican - 2:30
12.The Gimmicks - Am I Worth It? - 2:42
13.Dunhill And Weiser - Red Leather Jacket - 2:19
14.The Packabeats - The Traitors - 2:34
15.The Planets - Jungle Street - 2:25
16.The Johnny Howard Group - Mind Reader - 2:13
17.Rhet Stoller - Big City - 1:58
18.The Players - Bizet As It May - 1:54
19.The Violents - Ghia - 2:03
20.Group X - Crossbeat - 2:24
21.The Barons - Cossack - 2:44
22.Bob Miller And The Millermen - Trouble Shooter - 2:00
23.The Vengers - Shakedown - 2:02
24.The Gladiators - Tovarich - 2:08
25.The Royal Showband (Waterford) - The One Nighters - 2:00

Psychic Circle compilations
1966-72  With The Sun In My Eyes
1968-72  White Lace And Strange
1968-72  The Room Of Loud Sounds
1964-69  Realistic Patterns Orchestrated Psychedelia
1965-69  Wednesday Morning Dew 
1965-70  The Electric Coffee House 
1965-70  The Golden Road The Electric Coffee House Vol.2
1969-74  Blow Your Cool: 20 Prog Psych Assaults
1969-74  Lovin’ Fire 20 Obscure Gems
1970-77  A Visit To The Spaceship Factory

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