Honey Ltd. “The Complete LHI Recordings” (Light In The Attic, 2013)

This Detroit quartet released one album in 1968 on Lee Hazlewood’s label and then vanished. Original copies of their lone record go for about $2,000, but thankfully, Light In The Attic reissued it with bonus tracks in 2013. Consisting of Laura Polkinghorne, Marsha Jo Temmer, and sisters Joan and Alexandra Sliwin, Honey Ltd. were originally called Mama Cats (pun noted) and drew on their hometown’s inspirational culture of soul music. They also found themselves playing shows with Bob Seger ca. 1967. After riots roiled Detroit that year, the band moved to LA in 1968 to try to further their music career. One audition later with Hazlewood and the legendary music man signed them to his LHI imprint.

Produced by Mr. Hazlewood, Honey Ltd.’s songs deftly balance social and political commentary with matters of the heart. The group’s savvy songwriting skills and magical, four-part vocal harmonies received considerable boost from Lee’s access to several world-class studio musicians from the Wrecking Crew, including Carol Kaye, Ry Cooder, Jack Nitzsche, Plas Johnson, Chuck Berghofer, Al Casey, Jim Gordon, and Don Randi.

The album begins with “Warrior,” which is about a lover going off to war, and it sarcastically treats his violent destiny as a good thing, as it shifts from poignant ballad to rousing rocker with verve. I dare any listener not to get swept away by the surging chorus. “No, You Are” and “I’ve Got Your Man” are harmony-rich girl-group brilliance—soaring pop that hits like a more robust Free Design. The latter tune boasts about undermining a woman’s relationship with dulcet brashness. “Eli’s Coming” is a faithful, exciting cover of Laura Nyro‘s brash soul showstopper, which only was released shortly before Honey Ltd.’s own version. The sophisticated pop-soul gem “Silk ‘N Honey” reveals further Nyro infatuation. The sublimely haunting pop of “Tomorrow Your Heart” foreshadows UK goth-pop sensations Strawberry Switchblade, except when it bursts into Motown-ish, soul-belting mode.

Honey Ltd certainly had a winning, eccentric way with covers. Their unconventionally arranged brassy interpretation of the oft-covered garage-rock standard “Louie, Louie” gets laced with fascinating vocal extrapolations. And their euphoric rendition of the Skip James blues classic “I’m So Glad” radically differs from Cream’s more famous version. Psych-pop heads will flip over the exceptionally dynamic “For Your Mind” and “Come Down,” with the latter being a hippie-rock anthem that would segue well into the United States Of America’s “Coming Down.” It features the group’s strongest vocal performance, replete with haunting undertones and undulating harmonies.

Following her short-lived stint with Honey Ltd., Polkinghorne went on to sing backing vocals with Seger, Black Crowes, and… uh, Kid Rock. But if there were any justice, she and songwriting partner Temmer would be much better known for their work in this femme-powered Motor City outfit. -Buckley Mayfield

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Jive Time is always looking to buy your unwanted records (provided they are in good condition) or offer credit for trade. We also buy record collections.

Mercury Rev “Yerself Is Steam” (Mint Films/Jungle, 1991)

Mercury Rev’s 1992 debut album, Yerself Is Steam, was a sensation upon its release in the UK, as the music press there hyped the upstate New York group for months before it actually dropped. Americans who read said media were stoked, as well, including me and several of my Detroit-area friends. Our absurdly high expectations were exceeded. To this day, my buddies and I stan indomitably for Steam, though when music-publication chatter turns to definitive ’90s rock releases, Yerself Is Steam is largely overlooked. This makes no sense.

In the early ’90s, Mercury Rev—led by guitarists Jonathan Donahue and Grasshopper—reigned as America’s greatest rock band, the country’s grand sorcerers of whirlwind psychedelic beauty and chaos. Steam deserved its own laser-light shows and made you feel as if your blood had been replaced with rocket fuel. The first three songs on the LP—“Chasing A Bee,” “Syringe Mouth,” and “Coney Island Cyclone”—assay a rarefied strain of bubblegum-catchy freak rock that induced the sensation of being on at least three drugs you’ve never heard of. Then it gets weirder and farther out.

Even that dreaded convention of the CD era, the hidden track, pays exorbitant dividends with the decade’s ultimate waver-lighting ballad, “Car Wash Hair.” (Initially released as a single, this lovable blissout is found only on the compact disc version of Steam.) “Syringe Mouth” in particular reaches a peak of exhilarating delirium, a lysergic splurge that singed plenty of synapses in its four chaotic minutes while “Coney Island Cyclone” is the greatest song ever written about an amusement-park ride.

“Blue And Black” is an unnervingly ponderous showcase for loose-cannon singer-songwriter David Baker to flaunt his morbid croon and ponder his impending mental breakdown over a foundation of quasi-goth brooding. The group’s most prog-like moment, “Sweet Oddysee Of A Cancer Cell T’ Center Of Yer Heart” serves as a fiendish roller-coaster ride of swerving dynamics and swelling melodic grandeur that makes Porcupine-era Echo & The Bunnymen sound like flat-footed underachievers. It’s a one-off slab of monstrous brilliance in the Rev’s catalog. “Frittering” is an expansive ice floe of psychedelia that puts a seething chill on Syd Barrett-era Floyd’s epics. Speaking of epics, the ominous “Very Sleepy Rivers” meanders with an unsettling heaviness; for over 12 minutes, the band sound like they’re marching you down to your watery demise.

That Steam came out on Columbia Records (a year after its initial micro-indie release) somehow makes the whole thing even more ridiculous. Did the conglomerate’s execs get swept away by Melody Maker and NME‘s frothing praise, too? Were they looking for the next Nirvana with Mercury Rev? Did they think Suzanne Thorpe’s flute was the future of rock?

In retrospect, the early-’90s “alternative rock” frenzy probably helped Mercury Rev to sign with a major, but Columbia’s mighty marketing machine failed to move the needle for them in the US. (Grasshopper once told me that Steam has sold more than 200,000 copies worldwide over the last 31 years, most of them in Europe.) Although Mercury Rev went on to earn more commercial success with 1998’s psych-lite, Americana-leaning Deserter’s Songs, they have yet to surpass Yerself Is Steam‘s unfettered creativity. -Buckley Mayfield

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Jive Time is always looking to buy your unwanted records (provided they are in good condition) or offer credit for trade. We also buy record collections.

Friar Tuck “Friar Tuck & His Psychedelic Guitar” (Mercury, 1967)

Many people’s favorite guitarist from the world-class LA studio band the Wrecking Crew, Mike Deasy is one of the mad geniuses behind the Ceyleib People’s one-off 1968 masterpiece, Tanyet, which I reviewed for this blog in 2018. Deasy’s session credits include a litany popular artists, some of whom made it into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Mike, however, has remained a deeply idiosyncratic cult figure.

Under his goofy Friar Tuck persona, Deasy let his freak flag fly, albeit not as sublimely as he did on Tanyet. Rather, Friar Tuck & His Psychedelic Guitar is a lysergic distortion of ’60s pop and rock that seems as if it were bashed out in a day, with help from some ringers such as bassist Jerry Scheff, drummer Jim Troxel, vibraphonist Toxie French (all from the great, short-lived Goldenrod), vocalist/arranger Curt Boettcher, and many others. Yes, this is a psychsploitation record from the subgenre’s red-hot peak of 1967, but Deasy does it with more inventiveness (and echoplex) than most.

Friar Tuck & His Psychedelic Guitar splits its two sides between covers and originals. The first side hints that the monk outfit Deasy’s wearing on the cover ain’t the only thing kooky about this LP. Tommy Roe’s cutesy 1965 hit “Sweet Pea” abounds with all sorts of flamboyant six-string filigree, negating the corny recitation of banal lyrics and cheesy backing vocals. A bad-trip, FX-laden coda telegraphs Deasy’s subversive motives. “Louis Louis” (aka frat-house garage-rock standard “Louie Louie”) receives a total makeover into a blissed-out psych saunter. EZ-listening female vocals sound absurd amid the increasingly disorienting disintegration of this overfamiliar classic. Mike completely rearranged the song’s DNA into something chaotically beautiful—and barely recognizable. Deasy and his super sessioneers also transform Oscar Brown and Nat Adderley’s “Work Song” into a baroque rave-up. Finally, Hollywood Argyles’ 1960 novelty hit “Alley-Oop” fits right in with Deasy’s loopy irreverence; surely notorious Argyles member Kim Fowley approved.

Deasy’s original songs occupy side 2, and it’s here where he really lets his imagination run riot. The compositions initially seem to have conventional structures, but as they go on, the backing vocals get stacked into infinite halls of mirrors and the guitars (also played by Ben Benay and Jim Helms) color way outside the lines in fluorescent colors. “A Record Hi” psychedelicizes “Louie Louie” even further into United States Of America territory (the band, not the country). “Fendabenda Ha Ha Ha” ingeniously uses extended chants as a foundation for brain-scrambling biker rock. By the time of the closing “Where Did Your Mind Go?” you’ll be laughing at how absurd this album’s journey from chart-fodder spoof to psychedelic excess has been, as well as pondering the question in the song’s title.

(The 2007 CD reissue on UK label Fallout includes four amiable bonus tracks from Deasy singles under the Flower Pot alias.) -Buckley Mayfield

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Jive Time is always looking to buy your unwanted records (provided they are in good condition) or offer credit for trade. We also buy record collections.

Black Sabbath “Vol. 4” (Warner Bros./Vertigo, 1972)

Recorded in LA while immersed in SoCal excess, Black Sabbath’s Vol. 4 nonetheless boasts some of the British heavy-metal innovators’ greatest songs. Yes, it’s brutal to be around people who are high on cocaine, but sometimes the drug can (partially) inspire musicians to create some great, enduring work. Case in point is Black Sabbath’s fourth LP. The Birmingham quartet allegedly had speaker boxes full of Bolivian marching powder delivered to the studio as they were cutting this fab platter. The results are worth whatever nasal and temporary psychic damage the players suffered during the making of it.

“Wheels Of Confusion” bursts in with Sabbath’s trademark behemoth metal riffage of the sort that inspired loads of grunge musicians. Ozzy sings in his best tuneful-anguish tone as guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler turn the screws ever tighter. Acting as a coda, “The Straightener” shifts into a lighter mode, a kind of breezy hard rock with Iommi soloing baroquely in the distance. “Tomorrow’s Dream” purveys staccato, groove-oriented metal and highlights drummer Bill Ward’s surprising funk chops. Iommi and Butler grind in unison density and heavy-osity. So far, so Sabbath-ical.

But the album’s first shocker is “Changes,” a heart-shattering ballad dominated by piano and Mellotron, its lyrics written by Butler and inspired by Ward’s breakup with his wife. One of Sabbath’s most beloved anomalies, the song was covered with astonishing gravity by the late soul vocalist Charles Bradley. Vol. 4‘s second bold tangent is “FX,” whose sparse, echoed bleeps vary in intensity over its 100 seconds. The piece sounds as if it could’ve escaped from the lab of your favorite ’60s academic synth composer, but in actuality, it was triggered by Iommi’s necklace crucifix accidentally hitting his guitar strings and generating cool sounds. The record’s third diversion is “Supernaut.” It begins with the same tension-inducing hi-hat pattern as Isaac Hayes’ “Theme From Shaft,” but it soon transforms into one of thee most unstoppable, pile-driving grooves ever to give you whiplash while headbanging. Ward’s dope percussion breakdown could get a room full of breakdancers sweating. “Supernaut” is perhaps the Sabbath song that best conjures the sensation of feeling invulnerable; maybe that’s why it was Frank Zappa’s favorite. (In 1990, an industrial-disco version was cut by the dubiously named 1000 Homo DJs, which featured members of Ministry and Nine Inch Nails.) The fourth and final surprise, “Laguna Sunrise,” delicately sparkles with acoustic guitar and mellotron—just a beautiful, melancholy instrumental, going against the sinister-metal grain.

“Snowblind” is the obvious coke homage here (Ozzy’s stage whisper of “cocaaaiiinnneee” sledgehammers the song’s point home), but the actual music leans more toward pot than blow. This methodical juggernaut of gnarled fuzz is proto-stoner rock. “Cornucopia” is kinetic, doomy metal with punchy beats that give John Bonham a run for his tom-tom thunder. Vol. 4 closes with a couple of speedy, hard-rock heaters: “St. Vitus Dance” and “Under The Sun.” The latter keeps accelerating until you fear Iommi and Butler’s instrument’s strings are going to burst into flames.

With Black Sabbath, it’s always been the outliers that have struck me as the most interesting displays of their talents—which is why “Planet Caravan” is my favorite tune on Paranoid and “Who Are You” my fave on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Vol. 4 features plenty of similar moments that reveal Black Sabbath’s inventive versatility—even as they were blasted out of their minds. -Buckley Mayfield

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Jive Time is always looking to buy your unwanted records (provided they are in good condition) or offer credit for trade. We also buy record collections.

Rodriguez “Cold Fact” (Sussex 1970)

As you probably know by now, Detroit troubadour Sixto Rodriguez passed away on August 8 at age 81 (cause of death has not been reported). Heads around the world have been mourning and eulogizing this Mexican-American cult hero’s art and humanity with an intensity, if my social-media feeds are any indication.

After decades of obscurity in the US, the trenchant singer-songwriter finally began to get the recognition and accolades he deserved when Light In The Attic reissued his 1970 debut LP Cold Fact in 2008. Director Malik Bendjelloul’s 2012 documentary Searching For Sugar Man further elevated Rodriguez’s profile and sales figures while revealing that he’d achieved shocking commercial success in South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand in the ’70s.

Produced by legendary Motown session guitarist Dennis Coffey and Mike Theodore and featuring Funk Brothers bassist Bob Babbitt and drummer Andrew Smith, the 12 songs on Cold Fact should be granted the lofty regard those on Bob Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home and Phil Ochs’ All The News That’s Fit To Sing have earned.

Like Dylan and Ochs’, Rodriguez’s voice isn’t technically “good,” but it’s idiosyncratic enough to slice through pop culture’s innocuous glut and command your attention. It’s a cold fact that the content of Rodriguez’s songs—gripping conflicts stemming from drug abuse, inequality, sexual promiscuity, street hassles, etc.—would sound absurd if expressed by someone with perfect pitch and chart-friendly timbre.

Cold Fact begins with its most famous song (nearly 63 million streams on $p0tify), “Sugar Man,” a phantasmal folk-soul ballad enhanced by a poignantly descending bass line and psychedelic effects (echoed backward violin, Mort Garson-esque analog-synth bleeps, delayed vocals as it fades out) from the Theo-Coff production unit. (I discovered the song on David Holmes’ 2002 DJ mix album Come Get It, I Got It, and was instantly hooked.) The album’s next track, “Only Good For Conversation,” bursts in on a cantankerous fuzz-toned bass riff and Coffey’s monumental electric guitar pyrotechnics.

After this potent one-two punch, Cold Fact eases into more conventional singer/songwriter moves, but gritty Detroit funk still runs through these lyrically compelling compositions. An eloquent voice for the underdog and the poor, Rodriguez came out of the gate on fire musically and lyrically. Cold Fact still sounds vital and essential 53 years after its release. -Buckley Mayfield

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Jive Time is always looking to buy your unwanted records (provided they are in good condition) or offer credit for trade. We also buy record collections.

Look Blue Go Purple “Still Bewitched” (2017, Captured Tracks/Flying Nun)

The all-woman group Look Blue Go Purple burned briefly but brightly in the mid 1980s. Recording for the fantastic Flying Nun Records, Look Blue Go Purple rank among the very best of that revered New Zealand label’s roster. (Here’s where I suggest you read Matthew Goody’s Needles & Plastic, a maniacally thorough history of Flying Nun during its peak period: 1981-1988. Goody rightly devotes many glowing words to LBGP.)

As LBGP’s Flying Nun catalog is oop and spendy on the resell market, New York company Captured Tracks did us a solid by releasing Still Bewitched, a comp of the group’s three killer EPs, plus bonus live tracks from 1983 and 1987. Those EPs—Bewitched (1985), LBGPEP2 (1986), and This Is This (1988)—abound with that special Kiwi-flavored rock that makes a guy want to write a maniacally thorough history about it.

If you listen to enough Flying Nun-affiliated music, you begin to ascertain common threads running through it: gorgeously jangling guitars; understated vocals (the dudes from Straitjacket Fits and the Gordons are exceptions); an air of melodic melancholy and resignation that resonates on a frequency unattainable by 99.9% of American rock bands (Salem 66 might be the closest US comparison); a knack for concision and hooks that burrow in your brain without grating on your nerves. Look Blue Go Purple embody all of these traits with lovely nonchalance. And the eight bonus live tracks prove that LBGP could rock hard when they so desired.

LBGP stand out further by being the rare all-female group in New Zealand’s male-dominated scene—plus, they had the advantage of possessing a flute player in Norma O’Malley. They also had four vocalists (everyone except drummer Lesley Paris sang) and skillfully arranged their voices to emphasize their airy lushness and sage gentleness.

The great songs on Still Bewitched carry no traces of the annoying production values that marred much music in the ’80s. Rather, they exist in a hermetic bubble of unassuming Flying Nun brilliance. Low-key thrills for high-IQ folks. To paraphrase Hot Chocolate, every song’s a winner on this collection. -Buckley Mayfield

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Jive Time is always looking to buy your unwanted records (provided they are in good condition) or offer credit for trade. We also buy record collections.

Tony Williams “The Joy Of Flying” (CBS, 1979)

Jazz-fusion drummer/composer Anthony Tillmon Williams crammed a lot of amazing music into his 51 years on the planet. Most heads favor his records with his world-class fusion group Lifetime, which boasted lineups featuring the incomparable likes of Larry Young, John McLaughlin, and Jack Bruce. Albums such as Emergency!, (Turn It Over), and Ego sizzle with virtuosity and compositional invention. The short-lived Trio Of Doom with McLaughlin and Jaco Pastorius also has its fervid advocates.

However, like much fusion released in the late ’70s, Williams’ 1979 LP, The Joy Of Flying, has received less enthusiastic critical reactions compared to the raves of his ’60s and early-’70s output as a bandleader—and of course his tenure with Miles Davis’ legendary Second Great Quintet, which Williams joined at age 17.

But The Joy Of Flying has a host of formidable players on board, ranging from Cecil Taylor to Ronnie fuggin’ Montrose, from Herbie Hancock to Jan Hammer, from Paul Jackson to Stanley Clarke, etc. etc. Produced by Williams himself, The Joy Of Flying is the last true fusion LP he made and it sounds absolutely vital.

The Hammer-penned opener “Going Far” finds Williams in flamboyant, tom-thumping form for this rollicking jazz-rocker. The strutting jazz funk of “Hip Skip” is tailor-made for TV sports-highlight shows. Smooth-as-hell guitarist George Benson and Hammer peel off solos that’ll make your third eye roll around in its forehead socket. Written by saxophonist Tom Scott (who plays a mean Lyricon here), “Hittin’ On 6” sees Hancock letting off some spacey synth oscillations as Clarke and Williams churn and burn with frictional funk. Tony’s drum sound is just so lip-smackingly vibrant. As the record’s producer, he deserves all of the credit for this remarkable punchiness.

“Open Fire” was written by those hard-rockin’ muthas Montrose and Edgar Winter, and it’s as bombastic a specimen of jazz rock as the title and presence of brash virtuosi Montrose and keyboardist Brian Auger would lead you to expect. It pairs well with Billy Cobham’s Tommy Bolin-enhanced “Quadrant 4.” Another Hammer composition, “Eris” was sampled by UK drum & bass producer Plug (aka Luke Vibert), so you know it’s fire. This exemplar of gutsy, rhythmically combustible fusion is animated by Hammer’s seething synth throbs, which recall those of Heldon. “Coming Back Home” is a showcase for master guitarist Benson to flex his liquid-gold chops, but Tony’s on fire, too, hitting skins in a complex time signature with his patented power and finesse. The album’s anomaly, “Morgan’s Motion” features avant-garde piano genius Cecil Taylor sparring with Williams in a highly evolved duet of stealth, speed, and inventiveness. A tumultuous summit meeting of jazz gods, “Morgan’s Motion” is a one-off for the ages.

The Joy Of Flying is one of those rare, high-quality fusion albums you can still find for under $10 in used bins. Get into it before the gatekeepers read this review and jack up the price accordingly. -Buckley Mayfield

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Jive Time is always looking to buy your unwanted records (provided they are in good condition) or offer credit for trade. We also buy record collections.

Groundhogs “Hogwash” (United Artists, 1972)

Groundhogs leader Tony “T.S.” McPhee passed away on June 6 at age 79, and the outpouring of love and respect that followed on social media was gratifying. Though he never became a household name in the US, the British guitarist/vocalist earned renown from discerning listeners for his inventive, explosive guitar playing and incisive, sociopolitical lyrics, as exemplified on albums such as Thank Christ For The Bomb, Split, and Who Will Save The World? The Mighty Groundhogs. McPhee was a cult guitar hero’s cult guitar hero, and he shined hard on one of Groundhogs’ best—and most underrated—records, Hogwash.

As many English musicians had done in the early/mid ’60s, Groundhogs began their existence as a blues-inflected rock group. In 1964, they even backed American blues legend John Lee Hooker on some of his UK dates and later cut an LP with him titled …And Seven Nights. Auspicious! Unsurprisingly, Groundhogs’ first two albums—1968’s Scratching The Surface and 1969’s Blues Obituary—trawled in traditional, gritty blues territory, but they began to expand beyond those strictures with 1970’s Thank Christ For The Bomb.

On Hogwash, the addition of Egg drummer Clive Brooks enabled Groundhogs to venture into more complex realms. This becomes apparent from the opening track, “I Love Miss Ogyny,” whose unpredictable, slow-fast dynamics and strange guitar tunings and riffs mark a bold move into prog-rock. McPhee not only sang like a more blue-collar Richard Thompson and wielded electric and acoustic guitars, but he also messed with an ARP 2600 synthesizer, Mellotron M400, ring modulator, and assorted FX pedals. These weapons allowed Tony to spice up Groundhogs’ tough and twisty rock, lifting it further out of their earlier bluesy muck.

“You Had A Lesson” is ominous rock that verges on Van Der Graaf Generator bombast, with Peter Cruickshank’s riveting and girthy bass plowing a devastating groove. “The Ringmaster” is an 83-second experimental interlude centering on a heavily FX’d drum solo. Some people can’t handle this sort of anomalous abstraction from a rock group, but those types are a drag; this is cool. The album’s longest and perhaps best song, “3744 James Road” contains over seven minutes of metronomic, Can-like bass and drum interplay, torrid guitar expressionism, and a surprising earworm chorus. “Sad Is The Hunter” rocks as ruggedly and threateningly as John Lennon’s “Well Well Well,” but with flashier solos and extrapolations by McPhee and Cruickshank.

The ridiculously fun and intricate “S’one Song” is a party-rockin’ tune for people with high IQs while “Earth Shanty” is chest-puffing, Mellotron-enhanced prog that makes you feel more heroic than you have any right to. It’s like the Moody Blues with wilder instincts and bigger biceps. The LP ends with “Mr. Hooker, Sir John,” a heartfelt homage to the god John Lee Hooker, fueled by McPhee’s hard and nasty acoustic guitar strumming. McPhee sings, “You taught so many people how to play/Your music is as timeless as a mountain and as earthy as clay/Your voice is clear and resonant as a bell.” Tony really lays it on thickly, and it’s touching. The song’s a curiously retrograde end to a forward-thrusting record, but, hell, JLH deserves all the tributes and Groundhogs had broken so much new ground before, so slack is cut. Call this album “hogwash” at your peril. -Buckley Mayfield

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Jive Time is always looking to buy your unwanted records (provided they are in good condition) or offer credit for trade. We also buy record collections.

Fifty Foot Hose “Cauldron” (Limelight, 1968)

Cauldron by Bay Area freaks Fifty Foot Hose exists in that minuscule niche of far-out ’60s albums that fused electronics with psychedelic rock: The United States Of America’s self-titled LP, the Silver Apples’ self-titled album, Lothar And The Hand People’s Presenting… and Space Hymn, and Spoils Of War. Recorded in 1967, Cauldron may have predated them all. Even in that lysergic-friendly era, most heads could not grok Fifty Foot Hose. And though it’s been reissued many times, the album still flies under most music fans’ radar.

Mainly the brainchild of electronics wizard/inventor Cork Marcheschi, Cauldron is split between semi-conventional songs riddled with DIY sound-FX tomfoolery (and even a bleep-augmented cover of Billie Holiday’s 1942 jazz standard “God Bless The Child”) and form-busting experiments geared to blow minds. In the former category, “If Not This Time” is a midtempo slice of Jefferson Airplane-style songcraft that transcends Grace Slick & company’s popular psychedelic machinations, thanks to an unconventionally tuned guitar intro/motif that alerts you to the weirdness that lies ahead. Nancy Blossom may not be as powerful a vocalist as Slick, but her enigmatic delivery and defiant demeanor suit Fifty Foot Hose’s skewed compositions and improvs.

In the rather conventional love song “The Things That Concern You,” guitarist Larry Evans sings, “I love you I love you I love you you/Please love me, too” with surprising sincerity and banality. But thankfully, the track possesses the loopy aura of the United States Of America’s “I Won’t Leave My Wooden Wife For You, Sugar,” complete with zonked electronics that sound like a Moog suffering a nervous breakdown. “Rose” is essentially a more psychedelic variation on Classic IV’s “Spooky”—lounge pop embellished with all manner of electronic frippery that would impress Beaver & Krause. The album’s ominous psych-rock zenith is “Red The Sign Post,” whose marauding, fuzz-toned guitar riff prefigures Deep Purple’s “Space Truckin’.” Add in some 13th Floor Elevators-esque bass mesmerism and Nancy Blossom’s strident declarations and swirling-down-the-vortex screams, and you have a classic that’s too heavy and traumatic for a Nuggets comp.

Side two is where things get really crazy. “Fantasy” starts with obsessive guitar riffing, tom-tom-hitting, and frittering bleeps, then shifts into a groovy hippy-rock jam of the sort that you’ve heard in a dozen psychsploitation movies—so it fucking rules. Then the song shifts into a creepy Nancy-sung ballad before evolving into a seriously horrific, occult-rock march. It’s a helluva trip, any way you cut it. The aforementioned “God Bless The Child” provides a little respite before “Cauldron” assaults the senses with some mushroom-trip-gone-horribly-awry rock. This witchy nightmare makes just about everything else that was touted as “psychedelic” in the SF’s ’60s psych scene sound as buttoned-up as William F. Buckley. Only White Noise’s “The Black Mass: An Electric Storm In Hell” comes close to “Cauldron”’s disturbing disorientation.

Fifty Foot Hose came back in 1998 with a shockingly good LP, Sing Like Scaffold, but even if they’d only released Cauldron, they’d be underground stars worthy of lifelong devotion. -Buckley Mayfield

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Jive Time is always looking to buy your unwanted records (provided they are in good condition) or offer credit for trade. We also buy record collections.

Savoy Brown “Raw Sienna” (Decca, 1970)

British blues rock was damn near everywhere in the ’60s and early ’70s, and Savoy Brown were in the thick of it, releasing very good records from 1967 to 1972. Unfortunately, they failed to gain the substantial traction in the US that artists such as Cream and Fleetwood Mac achieved. Instead, Savoy Brown were more of a connoisseur’s band, and the consensus among those sage heads is that they peaked with Raw Sienna.

Led by pianist/vocalist Chris Youlden—who left the group after Raw Sienna—and guitarist Kim Simmonds, Savoy Brown expanded blues rock’s parameters on this nine-track LP. One of Simmonds’ three compositions, “That Same Feelin’” is fabulous, marauding rock powered by Roger Earl’s funky percussion solo, Kim’s stinging guitar solo, and Terry Noonan’s bravura brass charts. Another Simmonds anomaly is “ Is That So,” which is not so much blues rock as it is a proggy quest in busted waltz time—a nice surprise! The spy-flick-soundtrack-y instrumental “Master Hare” (also by Simmonds) excites with blaring horns and Youlden’s tension-building piano. Tone Stevens’ bass lines are insanely groovy and complex and Simmonds wrings rampant guitar leads that might’ve made Peter Green with envy. [sic] A freaky rave-up coda ices this blues-rock cake.

Many of Youlden’s songs slap, too. The alluring opener “A Hard Way To Go” instantly ensnares you with Stevens’ intriguing bass line and Youlden’s golden, vocals, which reach Steve Marriott levels of wracked soulfulness. The sotto-voce, mellow blues of “Stay While The Night Is Young” features “Lonesome” Dave Peverett’s acoustic-guitar strum and Simmonds’ fluid, pointillistic electric-guitar solo. (Incidentally, this cozy, subliminally funky music was sampled by a California-based friend who releases excellent instrumental hip-hop under the name DJ Frane.) “When I Was A Young Boy” is that rare specimen—orchestral blues rock—and moving it is.

If I’m hearing this right, “Needle And Spoon” is a bustling, horn-powered paean to heroin. But if it’s sincere, this song pairs poorly with Neil Young’s “The Needle And The Damage Done.”A dynamic blues ballad with the brassy brashness of early Chicago, “I’m Crying” sounds like a hit single, aided by Youlden’s confessional, conspiratorial vocal delivery. Alas, even though their records sold pretty well in America, Savoy Brown never scored a hit here, but smart record collectors can score their best albums for a reasonable price in most used-vinyl bins. -Buckley Mayfield

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Jive Time is always looking to buy your unwanted records (provided they are in good condition) or offer credit for trade. We also buy record collections.

Ike & Tina “’Nuff Said” (United Artists, 1971)

It seems like every week death claims another musical star and/or legend. Tina Turner’s passing on May 24 at age 83 was the latest loss to hit us extremely hard. After hearing the bad news, I played my Tina & Ike records and I realized that none slapped harder than ‘Nuff Said. So here we are.

‘Nuff Said yielded no hits, an oddity for the Turners in the early ’70s, but no matter. This album’s stacked with raw and soulful funk rock that could enliven any DJ set. Ike—who was a very, very bad man—produced and arranged with his usual commanding skill, and his band, the Vibs (formerly the Kings Of Rhythm), are tight as hell and funkier than a mosquita’s tweeter. Drummer Soko Richardson, bassist Warren Dawson, and guitarist Jackie Clark are particularly on fire here.

Check out “What You Don’t See (Is Better Yet),” whose speedy, flickering wah-wah guitar work, thrusting rhythm, and blustery horn section are rated XXXtraordinary. (The song foreshadows Lightnin’ Rod’s ultra-funky, proto-rap classic “Sport.”) On flame-grooved tunes such as “Tell the Truth,” “Can’t You Hear Me Callin’,” “Moving Into Hip Style – A Trip Child!,” and “I Love Baby,” Tina’s voice is larger than life and thrice as sexy.

For what it’s worth, critic Robert Christgau gave ‘Nuff Said a C+ in his Village Voice “Consumer Guide” column. “Tina’s screeching becomes painful, not because it’s rough but because it’s out of tune. As for Ike, he’s out of tunes,” he wrote 52 years ago, overly enamored of the smell of his own cleverness. Not for the first time am I vehemently opposed to an opinion by the self-appointed “Dean of American Rock Critics.”

Anyway, if you like filthy funk and gritty, soulful singing by a mega-talented married couple in the midst of a torrid creative streak, you need ‘Nuff Said in your collection. Also, bonus unsolicited advice: approach Robert Christgau’s “Consumer Guide” reviews with utmost skepticism. -Buckley Mayfield

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Jive Time is always looking to buy your unwanted records (provided they are in good condition) or offer credit for trade. We also buy record collections.

Os Mutantes “Os Mutantes” (Polydor, 1968)

In the wake of the great Brazilian singer Rita Lee’s death on May 8 at age 75 (RIP, queen), I re-listened to several Os Mutantes albums. Conclusion? Their scintillating 1968 debut remains their best—although 1969’s Mutantes and 1970’s A Divina Cómedia Ou Ando Meio Desligado come close. But let’s not kid ourselves: you need all three to lead an optimal life.

To be fair, Os Mutantes benefits substantially from songwriting input by some of Brazil’s Tropicália all-stars. Not to discount core trio Rita Lee, Arnaldo Baptista, and Sérgio Dias’ talents—which are world-class—but the greatest songs on Os Mutantes bear the fingerprints of Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, and Jorge Ben. The insanely ingenious arrangements by Rogério Duprat also enhance these 11 songs, imbuing in them the freewheeling sense that anything is possible.

The album launches with the amazing Gil/Veloso composition “Panis Et Circenses.” It’s a zenith of baroque psychedelic pop inspired by Sgt. Pepper’s, but stranger and, I daresay, more enchanting than anything on that groundbreaking LP. Mutantes deploy down-shifted vocals, false endings, loopy flute fanfare, unexpected tempo changes, and odd interludes, thereby announcing the arrival of world-class rock eccentrics.

But it gets better. They transform Jorge Ben’s “A Minha Menina” into absolutely euphoric samba rock with supremely fried fuzz-toned guitar riffs, which, I can vouch, sounds amazing on ac*d. “O Relógio” is a gorgeous, ethereal ballad in the vein of the United States Of America’s “Love Song For The Dead Che” that surprisingly shifts into a funky rocker before reverting to its original state of hushed beauty. “Bat Macumba”—another Gil/Veloso classic—stands as one of history’s greatest party bangers, augmented by one of the sickest distorted guitar parts ever; it sounds like a raspberry pitched way up and stuttered into a fucked-up Morse code message that reads, “you will never want to hear acoustic-guitar-based folk music again.” Right here, Dias stakes his claim as a guitar god.

Even the less-celebrated songs on Os Mutantes rule. “Trem Fantasma”—which Mutantes wrote with Veloso—is a deceptively swinging and trippy tune that transmogrifies with a wondrous dream logic. Written by Sivuca and Humberto Teixeira, “Adeus, Maria Fulô” rumbles on a groove as junglistic and humid as the Amazon rainforest and is tempered by an absurdly genial and plinky toy piano motif. While the masses love the infectious Veloso-penned ballad “Baby,” I find that its schmaltziness overshadows its sublimity, but I’m clearly in the minority on this one. Echt ’60s psychedelic-discotheque jam “Ave, Gengis Khan” closes the album with the epitome of the fab, hippy-shagging vibe. If it doesn’t appear in the next Austin Powers movie, nothing in this world makes sense.

When Os Mutantes played last year’s Freakout Festival in Seattle, they included at least a few tracks from their debut LP, reiterating how its kaleidoscopic power has not faded an iota since its release over 50 years ago. -Buckley Mayfield

Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Jive Time is always looking to buy your unwanted records (provided they are in good condition) or offer credit for trade. We also buy record collections.