A Gift From Euphoria

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This album -- which was "produced in Hollywood, Nashville and London by Messrs. Watt and Hamilton" (aka Hamilton Wesley Watt and William Lincoln) -- is today considered a cult classic among those who find themselves trekking across the West Coast rock tundra, circa 1969. Psychedelic country-rock, folk-rock, and bluegrass -- abetted by lushly downcast orchestral arrangements and the occasional sound effect -- are combined here in a heady and confident manner. The opening track, "Lisa," is a sweeping orchestral piece which is eventually brought to a resounding end with the crash of a tympani drum. Then, the listener is abruptly hustled into a barrelhouse bluegrass-style romp, "Stone River Hill Song," which wouldn't sound too out of place on an album by Dillard & Clark, or, perhaps, even the Grateful Dead. Banjos, tack piano, and fuzz guitars collide in "Did You Get the Letter," which veers into Beatlesque White Album territory -- replete with backward guitars, cuckoo clocks, TV audience laughter, gunshots, explosions, someone speaking in Vietnamese, crying babies, and various sonic effluvia -- before returning to the song's main theme. Whispered vocals and a regal harpsichord elevate the stately and sublime "Lady Bedford." "Sunshine Woman" (covered in 1971 by Bernie Schwartz on his fantastic solo album, The Wheel) is another of the album's more memorable moments. It ends with a suicide note to the "World" and existence itself ("I hope we meet again someday"). In fact, it seems fair to point out that much of the moody lyrical content herein seems to be about drug use and acts of suicide. There's no real dross or dead weight on this overlooked work of ambitious scope that reveals the considerable talents of its two songwriters/producers. Originally released by Capitol, this album remained out of print for many years until it was reissued on CD by See for Miles in 1996.

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