Human Zoo

The Human Zoo

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The Human Zoo's great claim to fame among garage/psychedelic fans is that they were managed by Jim Foster, guitarist with the Human Expression, the West Coast psych act that scored a modest hit with the song "Optical Sound." That's not a lot to base a reputation on, but the lone album the Human Zoo left behind is pretty good stuff, and suggests with better promotion they could have risen to much more impressive heights. Boasting two lead singers (Roy Young and Jim Cunningham), the Human Zoo worked up a full and dynamic sound with impressive harmonies on these sessions, and the rest of the band shows off some solid chops -- John Luzadder and Larry Hanson are a capable guitar combo, with Hanson also doubling on keyboards, while bassist Bob Dalrymple and drummer Kim Vydaremy hold down the rhythm with strength and confidence. While the Human Zoo could add a trippy edge to their songs (such as "I Don't Care No More"), they (at least as captured on this album) were at their best when they rocked out, and it's on numbers like "Na-Na" and "Funny" that the Human Zoo really connect, while "Gonna Take Me a Ride" and "Help Me" reveal they weren't bad with blue-eyed soul stuff, either. The production is simple, but also captures the performances in a clean and natural fashion and is thankfully short on the studio trickery often inflicted on lesser-known psych acts. The recording seems to favor the band's live sound, and if the Human Zoo sounded this tight on-stage, it's hard to say why they didn't attract greater notice at the time. The songwriting is good but not great on The Human Zoo, but otherwise this is several notches above average for a psych act of the period, and fans of late-'60s/early-'70s West Coast rock should find this worth their time.

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