The Leathercoated Minds

A Trip down the Sunset Strip

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While the Leathercoated Minds is an inarguably superb name for a rock & roll band, the sad truth is it didn't really belong to a group at all. Producer and entrepreneur Snuff Garrett wanted to put together an album designed to give clueless, would-be hipsters an idea of what a night on Hollywood's fabled Sunset Strip was like; he'd already chosen a snazzy cover photo, and needed some session cats to throw together a half-hour of music to go along with it. Garrett hired a then little-known musician named J.J. Cale to produce the album and play lead guitar, and Cale's fleet but laid-back picking is all over this album. Cale overdubs a handful of Roger McGuinn-style lead lines all over "Eight Miles High" and "Mr. Tambourine Man," he throws some twang-centric psychedelia into "Over Under Sideways Down" and "Sunshine Superman," and contributes some enjoyable original throwaways with titles like "Sunset and Clark" and "Pot Luck." Cale and his studio partners (no one's sure just who they are besides Roger Tillison on vocals, though Cale's buddy Leon Russell is probably playing keyboards) probably tossed this off in a couple afternoons, but it sounds like they were having a good time doing it, and the picking is uniformly fine while the arrangements are a shade more imaginative than one might expect for a quickie knock-off album like this. Anyone expecting A Trip Down the Sunset Strip to be some sort of lost masterwork is only fooling themselves, but it's a fun listen with plenty of crackerjack guitar work, and it has the good sense to wrap up its business in less than 30 minutes; those with an interest in either Cale or pop culture of the period will want to give it a spin.

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