Various Artists

A Heavy Dose of Lyte Psych

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Heavy is right, although whether some of this is terribly good psychedelia is open to debate. On the one hand, there are some incredibly rare tracks here by terrifically obscure bands; on the other, only about 15 of the 24 songs here are all that interesting, or even listenable more than once. The best (and best-sounding) act here is the Gurus (who are also represented on the front cover), identified as five collegiate music majors from New York, who have a muscular yet melodic attack on their instruments. The Misty Wizards' "It's Love" is spacy fun, with electric sitar noodling over ethereal singing, and the Capes of Good Hopes' "Lady Margaret" offers some catchy hooks over engaging folk-rock-style rhythm guitar and lead guitar noodling. But a lot of what's here is uneven, selected based on its rarity rather than its effectiveness or attractiveness; Freeborne's "Land of Diana," for example, has so many shifts in tempo and fragmented melodic passages (including a shift out of psychedelic freak-out choruses and into a scat section) that it's difficult to imagine it getting played anywhere. There are some real surprises here as well, like "Brink of Death" by Childe Harold, a New York outfit produced by Walter Carlos, complete with orchestral accompaniment, eerie sound effects, and a pleasantly dissolute mood broken by some lively hard-rocking passages -- kind of like the Rolling Stones' "In Another Land." One number designated as a "Mystery Track," cut sometime in 1968 in Boston, apparently cut for a low-budget exploitation film, does sound like a lost Jefferson Airplane number circa After Bathing At Baxters. The sound is surprisingly good throughout, and producer Erik Lindgren has provided fairly thorough notes.

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