The Red Krayola

Live in the 1960's

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A two-CD set of live 1967 performances, some at the Angry Arts Festival in Los Angeles on June 29 of that year, the others from the Berkeley Folk Festival over the next few days. Like the other archival Red Krayola (or Red Crayola, as it was spelled then) release on Drag City, Coconut Hotel, this is far more avant-garde than what the group did on their pair of late-'60s albums. Since those albums were themselves among the weirdest things recorded by a rock group in the period, you know this is way out-there stuff. In fact, it's not rock music at all -- it has no conventional songs as such, or singing. It's six pieces of experimental, instrumental, contemporary composition, largely comprised of extended dissonant drones, plucks, electronic bursts, and feedback. At times it's similar to those instrumental drones that take up space on some early Velvet Underground bootlegs, or the very weirdest parts of late-'60s Pink Floyd pieces (like the shrieking guitar scrapes of "Interstellar Overdrive"). The Velvet Underground and Pink Floyd, however, rarely stuck with this kind of inaccessible freakiness for more than a few minutes at a time on record, even at their most willfully obscure. This is all inaccessible freakiness, with John Fahey helping out on one of the six pieces. You have to admire the guts (or perhaps it was just obstinacy) of a group playing their most far-out material for audiences that were probably expecting songs or psychedelic rock. Do not, however, expect anything on the order of their two International Artists albums, or any evidence of Mayo Thompson's vocals or songwriting (indeed, none of his songs-with-lyrics from the early Red Krayola days are reprised here). The fidelity is fairly good considering that these seem to be taken from unprofessional recordings (you can hear lots of audience chatter and extended patter from a radio announcer at points).

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
27:03
2
12:35
3
4:16

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
27:46
2
22:53
3
14:08
blue highlight denotes track pick