The Neighb'rhood Childr'n

The Neighb'rhood Childr'n

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It's truly a marvel the impact that travel, locale, and hallucinogenic drugs can have on talented young musicians. The Navarros were a band from the sleepy town of Medford, Oregon, specializing in R&B and surf material, who decided to pay a visit to San Francisco in the summer of 1967. While they only planned to hang out for a few days, they ended up diving head first into the local hippie scene, and leader Rick Bolz started a new band with a handful of local players who shared his new taste for psychedelia. He called the band Neighb'rhood Childr'n, and their sole album, released in 1968, suggests a mid-point between classic San Francisco psychedelic rock and the poppier constructs of acts like the Turtles and the Beau Brummels. The goofy playfulness of their cover of "Over the Rainbow," the Baroque pop touches of "Please Leave Me Alone," and the waltz-time eccentricity of "Happy Child" are a bit of out of step with what one would be likely to hear on a typical night at the Fillmore West, but the wickedly fuzzy guitar leads from Bolz and the spaced-out textures of "Long Years in Space" and "Hobbit's Dream" are clear indicators of the time and space that spawned this music. (Bolz and keyboard player Dyan Hoffman also deliver harmonies that would have done the Jefferson Airplane proud, while the hooky concision of the songs suggests they'd listened to Moby Grape's debut album a few times.) This music leans toward the commercial end of the psychedelic rock spectrum, but only just; between the guitar interplay of Bolz and Ron Raschdorf, the steady and versatile drumming of W.A. Farrens, and the strong original songs (mostly by Bolz and Hoffman), Neighb'rhood Childr'n clearly had an edge in talent and potential over most of their compatriots on the Bay Area scene of the day, and while it's unfortunate they never released another album, this set is an overlooked gem that still sounds fresh and enthusiastic more than four decades after it quietly came and went.

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