Skip Bifferty

Skip Bifferty

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Many genuine psychedelic enthusiasts feel like heading for the hills when the phrase "psychedelic pop" rears its head in reviews, especially when used in connection with British bands of the late '60s -- one gets sonic images of tinkling harpsichords and trippy pop/rock tunes. Skip Bifferty's self-titled LP is one of the notable exceptions -- oh, they're cheerfully spaced out, and their music is heavily ornamented with bells, echo, and all manner of sound effects, but at its core, this was a ballsy, hard-playing band that recognized the need for a solid rock & roll base to this kind of music. They might not exactly have been the Rolling Stones but they could have given the Idle Race or the Creation a run for their money. "Guru" is the trippiest number here, a tabla-laden piece of minimalist psychedelia that's all voices chanting and pounding percussion, and it works. "Time Track" is a crunchy, guitar-driven workout with a pleasing (though disjointed) break, and "Gas Board Under Dog" is a cute, comical number that breaks up the mood, while "Orange Lace" is reminiscent of "Pegasus" by the Hollies, a kind of psychedelic lullaby, and it's followed up by the soaring, driving "Planting Bad Seeds," a piece of high-wattage psychedelic punk with a chorus that could have come off of the Move's Shazam album; and "Follow the Path of the Stars" is British psychedelic soul. In all, it's cheerful psychedelia with a hard edge and some great virtuoso playing, pleasingly heavy guitar, soaring choruses, and eerie psych-pop lyrics evoking variant states of mind, somewhat akin to Pink Floyd's early singles laced with the kind of heavy edge that the Creation brought to the genre. The 2001 CD-R reissue features three singles tracks as bonuses, of which two are fairly dire, but the third, "Man in Black," is as good as anything on the original LP.

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