Tag Archives: Psychedelic

I’m A Freak, Baby…

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Just over a year ago I discovered the rather super folk music compilation “Dust On The Nettles : A Journey Through The British Underground Folk Scene 1967-72”, a three-disc set from the Grapefruit label. That, I subsequently discovered, was the second release in a series that started with 2013’s triple-disc “Love, Poetry And Revolution : A Journey Through The British Psychedelic And Underground Scenes 1966-1972”.

Deep Purple

Now I have stumbled across Grapefruit’s latest “a journey through” offering, released during the summer of 2016, is “I’m A Freak, Baby… : A Journey Through The British Heavy Psych And Hard Rock Underground Scene 1968-72”. Now, granted the use of the word “underground” doesn’t apply to all the music contained in this latest triple set, any more than it really did with the prior two, as there are a number of very well-known acts featured in each. However, I do think that the majority of the material presented for us to immerse ourselves in is likely to be unfamiliar to many, if not most, listeners.

Uriah Heep

First, though, let’s look at the more familiar fare. Disc one brings us “Do It” by The Pink Fairies and “Cherry Red” by The Groundhogs, the second disc contains Deep Purple’s “Fireball” along with tracks from the Edgar Broughton Band and the Move, whilst the final disc bears “Gypsy” from Uriah Heep, Fleetwood Mac’s “The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown)” as well as tracks from Taste and The Yardbirds. All great tracks and, to be honest, the easy recognition of these numbers helps to balance against the unknown songs spread across the rest of the three discs.

Stray

Amongst the acts that are less well-known are a number that can already be found nestled within my music library. These include the opening nine-plus minute “All In Your Mind” by Stray, which was covered by heavy metal legends Iron Maiden on the b-side of their 1990 hit “Holy Smoke”. Others I was already at least partly familiar with include Chicken Shack’s “Going Down”, “Heart Without A Home” by Blonde On Blonde, The Gun’s “Race With The Devil” and “Escalator” from Sam Gopal featuring future Motörhead leader Lemmy on vocals and guitar.

Skid Row

Moving on to the new-to-me artists, I particularly enjoyed the offerings from The Iron Maiden (“Falling”) (not to be confused with the above-mentioned metal band, Dark (“Zero Time”), The Kult (“Occult”), Jerusalem (“Primitive Man”), Barnabus (“Apocalypse”), Egor (“Street”), Cycle (“Father Of Time”) and Irish band Skid Row (“Go, I’m Never Gonna Let You)”) – the latter being the late guitar ace Gary Moore’s first professional band.

Hawkwind

I should also make mention of “Sweet Mistress Of Pain”, a track credited to Hawkwind Zoo. Also known under the alternate title of “Kiss Of The Velvet Whip”, this was recorded in late 1969 by the newly-formed band just prior to their name change, dropping the “Zoo” to become simply Hawkwind – a band synonymous with psychedelic music if ever there was one.

Sam Gopal

Oddly, although I would consider myself more of a rock fan than folk fan, I think on balance that I’ll likely listen to the “Dust On The Nettles” set more often than this one.

Fleetwood Mac

As with the folk anthology the sound quality varies a little, but this is a small price to pay for having some real rarities present. Whilst the former set included a massive sixty-three songs, “I’m A Freak…” contains just forty-eight. However, with a running time of just a few minutes shy of four hours there’s not much to complain about. Well worth digging into…

“I’m A Freak, Baby… : A Journey Through The British Heavy Psych And Hard Rock Underground Scene 1968-72” tracklist:

Disc One:

1. All In Your Mind / 2. Cast A Spell / 3. Hot Smoke And Sassafras / 4. My Son’s Alive / 5. Going Down / 6. Father Of Time / 7. I’m Coming Home / 8. Do It / 9. Time Machine / 10. Cherry Red / 11. I’m A Freak / 12. Rock My Soul / 13. Sweet Mistress Of Pain / 14. Nightmare / 15. Falling / 16. Apocalypse

1. Stray / 2. The Open Mind / 3. The Moochie / 4. Crushed Butler / 5. Chicken Shack / 6. Cycle / 7. The Deviants / 8. The Pink Fairies / 9. Factory / 10. The Groundhogs / 11. Wicked Lady / 12. Charge / 13. Hawkwind Zoo / 14. Stonehouse / 15. The Iron Maiden / 16. Barnabus

Disc Two:

1. Bogeyman / 2. Fireball / 3. Primitive Man / 4. Love In The Rain / 5. Trust / 6. Rhubarb! / 7. Dream / 8. Skullcrusher / 9. Zero Time / 10. Jehovah / 11. Brontosaurus / 12. Bring It To Jerome / 13. Mr. Make Believe / 14. Flash / 15. Street Walking Woman / 16. Go, I’m Never Gonna Let You

1. Writing On The Wall / 2. Deep Purple / 3. Jerusalem / 4. Edgar Broughton Band / 5. Hellmet / 6. Second Hand / 7. Little Free Rock / 8. Iron Claw / 9. Dark / 10. The Velvet Frogs / 11. The Move / 12. Stack Waddy / 13. Samuel Prody / 14. Bare Sole / 15. The Phoenix / 16. Skid Row

Disc Three:

1. Race With The Devil / 2. Heart Without A Home / 3. Ascension Day / 4. Street / 5. Escalator / 6. Gypsy / 7. Garden Of My Mind / 8. Think About It / 9. Trying To Find My Way Back Home / 10. Yellow Cave Woman / 11. Too Old / 12. The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown) / 13. Twisted Trip Woman / 14. Occult / 15. Born On The Wrong Side Of Time / 16. Hollis Brown

1. The Gun / 2. Blonde On Blonde / 3. Third World War / 4. Egor / 5. Sam Gopal / 6. Uriah Heep / 7. The Mickey Finn / 8. The Yardbirds / 9. Morning After / 10. Velvett Fogg / 11. Andromeda / 12. Fleetwood Mac / 13. Sweet Slag / 14. The Kult / 15. Taste / 16. Fusion Farm

The Machine Stops

Hawkwind-CD

Hawkwind Live In Concert
Hawkwind Live In Concert

Following in the wake of “R:Evolution”, the latest album from spin-off act Hawklords, the mothership known as Hawkwind have themselves just issued their own latest album, titled “The Machine Stops”, which is their twenty-sixth studio album (ignoring spin-off releases).

Dave Brock
Dave Brock

Joining founding member Dave Brock (vocals / guitars / synthesizers) in the band’s line-up for this album are long serving drummer Richard Chadwick (member since 1988), vocalist / bassist Jonathan “Mr. Dibs” Darbyshire (since 2007), keyboardist / guitarist / bassist Niall Hone (since 2008), keyboardist Phillip “Dead Fred” Reeves (since 2012) and the new boy – bassist Haz Wheaton.

Richard Chadwick
Richard Chadwick

“The Machine Stops” is a concept album, based on a short story by the same name. Brock, who wrote the majority of the record himself, said “It’s an interesting story written by E.M. Forster in 1909 and it’s exactly what is going on now. It’s about people living on computers so it’s amazing to think the author visualised this would be occurring 100 years later. I thought it was a really interesting concept because people do just live in their rooms while their computer does everything for them.” I have to admit that this is pretty topical subject matter considering the source is so (relatively) old!

Jonathan "Mr. Dibs" Darbyshire
Jonathan “Mr. Dibs” Darbyshire

The band’s record company Cherry Red released a press release stating that the album is “An atmospheric, musical interpretation beginning in tunnels deep beneath the earth, where every need is controlled and catered for by the machine. The struggle to escape and find a way to reach the outer surface is a utopian dream, which could prove to be the most deadly dream of all. Forster’s visionary masterpiece provides a chilling warning of the dangers of isolation, reliance on computer technology and the effects upon society.” I cannot claim to have read the story but based upon the synopsis I intend to rectify that situation.

Niall Hone
Niall Hone

So, that’s where the tale comes from, but what of the musical adaptation that the band have come up with? The album was preceded by a single, “A Solitary Man”, which is one of the most up-tempo tracks on the record. Naturally for a band that’s known for its psychedelic  and space rock there are lots of synthesized beeps, sirens, take-off and other odd sounds woven throughout the various musical textures. There are also some spoken word segments within the music, which aids the storytelling aspect and helps to gel the concept nicely.

Phillip "Dead Fred" Reeves
Phillip “Dead Fred” Reeves

As can often be the case with a concept album I don’t think you can really pick out individual tracks as particular highlights since the record works best when listened to from the opening “All Hail The Machine” right through to the closing, and longest, track “Lost In Science”.

Haz Wheaton
Haz Wheaton

I’d say that the album is best listened to in the dark with headphones on! To me, sonically the album harks back to the band’s golden years of the early Seventies, certainly more so than the previous few releases have, and I would imagine that long-standing fans of the band will love it. Great stuff…tour“The Machine Stops” tracklist:

1. All Hail The Machine / 2. The Machine / 3. Katie / 4. King Of The World / 5. In My Room / 6. Thursday / 7. Synchronised Blue / 8. Hexagone / 9. Living On Earth / 10. The Harmonic Hall / 11. Yum Yum / 12. A Solitary Man / 13. Tube / 14. Lost In Science

Lord Of Misrule

Lord Of Misrule

Sean Kennedy
Sean Kennedy

Originally hailing from Toronto, Canada, psychedelic occult rock band Blood Ceremony were formed sometime in 2006 by guitarist Sean Kennedy, who recruited vocalist / flautist / organist Alia O’Brien, bassist Chris Landon and drummer Andrew Haust.

Alia O'Brien
Alia O’Brien

The band’s name was apparently taken from the English translation of the Spanish horror movie about the Countess Elizabeth Báthory from 1973 titled “Ceremonia Sangrienta”. This is rather appropriate in two ways. Firstly the band’s music is firmly rooted in the early Seventies, the likes of which you may have found on the legendary Vertigo label (particularly early Black Sabbath) as well occult rockers Black Widow and the great Jethro Tull, the latter thanks to O’Brien’s flute work. Secondly the band’s lyrical stance is concerned with all manner of occult themes – witchcraft, magick, devil worship etc.

Lucas Gadke
Lucas Gadke

The group’s debut album “Blood Ceremony” was released in 2008 and was followed in 2011 by the record through which I originally discovered the band, their second album “Living With The Ancients”. By thistime bassist Landon had been replaced by current bass player Lucas Gadke.

Michael Carrillo
Michael Carrillo

A further line-up change occurred prior to the recording of album number three “The Eldritch Dark” (2013), with Michael Carrillo taking over the drum stool from Haust. That record, influenced in part by classic horror film “The Wicker Man”, had a much less overt Black Sabbath influence than the first two, and continued the improvement in the band’s sound and material.

Blood Ceremony
Blood Ceremony

Now, following lead single “Old Fires”, comes the group’s fourth album – and second with the line-up of Kennedy, O’Brien, Gadke and Carrillo – titled “Lord Of Misrule”. The album kicks off with a fabulous seven-minute-plus song “The Devil’s Widow” which contains all that is great about this band. Doom metal style guitar riffing, progressive twists and turns, folky flute playing to rival that of the aforementioned Jethro Tull and a nicely sinister vocal delivery from the frontwoman – not to mention that it’s really catchy too.

Sean Kennedy
Sean Kennedy

Chief songwriter Kennedy has done a marvellous job here, as there is not one duff track and the album feels like a natural progression from the last one. Gadke and Carrillo provide solid foundations, but it is the material and guitar playing of Kennedy and the multi-talented performances of O’Brien that really give this band their magical retro-inspired sound.

Alia O'Brien
Alia O’Brien

Personal highlights on the album include “Loreley”, the acoustic “Things Present, Things Past”, the brilliant “The Weird Of Finistere”, “Half Moon Street” and “The Devil’s Widow”. The band have stayed true to their early Seventies vibe and pagan sensibilities whilst also managing to broaden their sonic scope. A great album that really appeals to my love of Seventies progressive and folk rock, great songwriting and, of course, matters related to paganism and the occult. Fabulous stuff and highly recommended…Roadburn-2016-Blood-Ceremony

“Lord Of Misrule” tracklist:

1. The Devil’s Widow / 2. Loreley / 3. The Rogue’s Lot / 4. Lord Of Misrule / 5. Half Moon Street / 6. The Weird Of Finistere / 7. Flower Phantoms / 8. Old Fires / 9. Things Present, Things Past

R:Evolution

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Hawkwind In 1971
Hawkwind In 1971

Back in 1969 guitarist / keyboardist / singer Dave Brock formed a psychedelic rock / space rock band under the name Hawkwind and, together with fellow musicians Nik Turner (saxophone / flute / vocals), Huw Lloyd-Langton (guitars / vocals), John A. Harrison (bass), Michael “Dik Mik” Davies (synthesizers) and Terry Ollis (drums), created the band’s self-titled debut album in early 1970.

Lemmy Kilmister
Lemmy Kilmister

In the years since the band have released numerous studio and live albums and seen dozens of musicians come and go from the line-up, including Lemmy Kilmister (who went on to form Motörhead) and Robert Calvert.

Stacia Blake
Stacia Blake

Other notable figures to be connected to the Hawkwind name include fantasy author Michael Moorcock, interpretive dancer Stacia Blake and lighting engineer Jonathan “Liquid Len” Smeeton.

Hawklords In 1978
Hawklords In 1978

Brock decided to disband Hawkwind during 1978 and formed a new group with Calvert and drummer Simon King (both also from Hawkwind at the time) along with bassist Harvey Bainbridge, keyboard player Steve Swindells and second drummer Martin Griffin.

Hawkwind In 1979
Hawkwind In 1979

The new venture was called Hawklords, likely as a result of disputes over use of the Hawkwind name, and they released one album, titled “25 Years On” in late 1978 and by the following year had folded with Brock, King and Bainbridge joining forces with Lloyd-Langton and keyboardist Tim Blake in a new version of Hawkwind.

Hawkwind In 2012
Hawkwind In 2012

Brock still leads Hawkwind to this day, and his band most recently released “Spacehawks” in 2013, a collection of new and re-recorded catalogue songs.

Hawklords In 2012
Hawklords In 2012

Meanwhile, Hawklords have risen from the ashes, initially in order to play benefit shows for the late Robert Calvert.

Harvey Bainbridge
Harvey Bainbridge

The band is now comprised of ex-Hawkwind (late 90s version) members Bainbridge on keyboards (the only one present in the original Hawklords line-up), guitarist Jerry Richards and vocalist Ron Tree now joined by drummer Dave Pearce and the newest recruit – bassist Tom Ashurst.

Jerry Richards & Ron Tree
Jerry Richards & Ron Tree

The reignited band have since released four new studio albums – “We Are One” (2012), “Dream” (2013), “Censored” (2014) and the new record “R:Evolution”.

This album is something of a cracker, to be honest. I reckon it’s easily the best of the aforementioned four records, and is equal to anything that Hawkwind themselves have released for a while too.

Dave Pearce
Dave Pearce

My favourite tracks are “Evolver”, “Space Monkey”, “The Last Change” and the brilliant near-ten-minute “Shadow Of The Machines”. Whilst “One Day” is reminiscent of “Hurry On Sundown” (from Hawkwind’s 1969 debut) and therefore arguably somewhat derivative, but overall this is an excellent album.

Basically, if you know and enjoy Hawkwind’s output you are likely to appreciate what the Hawklords have achieved here. Great stuff…

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“R:Evolution” tracklist:

1. Re-animator / 2. Blink Of An Eye / 3. Evolver / 4. The Last Change / 5. Space Monkey / 6. One Day / 7. The Dreaming / 8. The Joker / 9. Shadow Of The Machines

The Girl With The Raven Mask

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Candlemass
Candlemass

Swedish bassist and songwriter Leif Edling formed doom metal legends Candlemass in the mid 1980s. Although that band is still reportedly active, their eleventh (and stated to be final) album was “Psalms Of The Dead” in 2012.

Leif Edling
Leif Edling

A side project, another doom metal band named Krux started by Edling and Candlemass bandmate Mats Levén has thus far produced three studio albums since 2003.

Marcus Jidell
Marcus Jidell

More recently, in 2013, Edling got together with guitarist Marcus Jidell, vocalist Jennie-Ann Smith (Jidell’s wife) to form Avatarium. The band’s line-up is completed by drummer Lars Sköld and keyboard player Carl Westholm.

Jennie-Ann Smith
Jennie-Ann Smith

A self-titled debut album was issued in 2013, and was a solid and heavy doom metal record. Drawing comparisons with the likes of Jex Thoth and Blood Ceremony, album number two “The Girl With The Raven Mask” is now out.

Lars Sköld
Lars Sköld

First track “Girl With The Raven Mask” gallops out of the speakers with more pace than anything on the debut album, and is full of hard-hitting guitars and a powerful vocal performance from Smith.

Next up is the album’s longest cut, at just under eight minutes, “The January Sea” which is very much a crushing slow doom track with a definite melancholic edge.

Carl Westholm
Carl Westholm

“Pearls And Coffins” is a more classic hard rock tune, with lots of light and shade, some tasty Hammond organ and you could just imagine the likes of Ronnie James Dio, Ian Gillan or David Coverdale singing on this at the peak of their powers. The same could be said of the truly excellent “Ghostlight”.

Avatarium
Avatarium

“Hypnotized” is, honestly, quite hypnotising with psychedelic keyboard sounds under an insistent guitar riff and another superb performance on the mic.

Jennie-Ann Smith
Jennie-Ann Smith

“Run Killer Run” is quite Cathedral-like in terms of the guitar sound and riffs and ushers “Iron Mule”, a track that initially sounds like a ballad until it really gets going.

Avatarium Live In 2014
Avatarium Live In 2014

Closing track “The Master Thief” is another light and shade filled epic before the bonus track “In My Time Of Dying” which shines a slightly different light on the group with a swampy and bluesy vibe.

Avatarium
Avatarium

All told this is slightly less heavy than the debut album, but benefits from more dynamism which allows Smith’s bluesy vocals to cut through loud and clear. Jidell and Edling provide some suitably crushing riffs on top of Sköld’s powerful drumming and there are some tasty guitar solos too. Finally, Westholm’s keyboards help fill out the sonic picture nicely.

A great doom metal album with psychedelic and progressive rock elements, “The Girl With The Raven Mask” is highly recommended listening…

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“The Girl With The Raven Mask” tracklist:

1. Girl With The Raven Mask / 2. The January Sea / 3. Pearls And Coffins / 4. Hypnotized / 5. Ghostlight / 6. Run Killer Run / 7. Iron Mule / 8. The Master Thief / 9. In My Time Of Dying