Inner Mystique seems to be the Chocolate Watchband album that fans and casual listeners know best, even though it was the one of their three records that was most disconnected from any active incarnation of the group. Slapped together in late 1967, in the wake of the virtual collapse of their lineup and rushed out in February of 1968, its original first side contained not a single note played or sung by the Watchband itself. Instead, engineer Richie Podolor assembled a group of studio musicians, playing a pair of languid psychedelic instrumentals -- "Voyage of the Trieste" and "Inner Mystique" -- in which the sitar flourishes and flute arabesques hung like jeweled ornaments, sandwiched around a new recording by singer Don Bennett (who'd already supplied some vocals without the group's knowledge or approval on their first album) of "In the Past," the latter a song originally written and recorded by the Florida-based psychedelic-punk band We the People. The second side was comprised of a hodgepodge of superb finished Watchband sides -- most notably "I'm Not Like Everybody Else" and "I Ain't No Miracle Worker," mixing punk bravado and angst, which have long been the album's selling points -- and outtakes such as "Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go" and "Medication," with Bennett's vocals replacing David Aguilar's, and one remixed and partly redubbed version of "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue." As with the group's first album, however, Inner Mystique is sort of "guilty with an explanation" -- yes, it's a mess in terms of continuity, with two different singers and three different vocal/instrumental combinations present, but the three full Watchband tracks are killer recordings that can hold their heads up with the best rock records of 1967; what's more, even the Bennett-sung/studio band played "In the Past" is worthwhile, Watchband or not, as a piece of shimmering psychedelia with a great beat and arrangement; and even "Voyage of the Trieste" and "Inner Mystique," as pieces of psychedelic background music, were good enough that one of them ended up on Rhino's Best of the Chocolate Watchband collection. And that's not bad for a 28-minute album with only eight cuts on it, pieced together with only the barest (if any) participation by the band.
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder