The Squires of the Subterrain

Admiral Albert's Apparition/Super-Plexi Automatic

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Chris Earl returns with yet another terrific archival reissue from the originally cassette-only back-catalog of the Squires of the Subterrain, this time a pair of original albums (the eight-song Admiral Albert's Apparition and the EP Super-Plexi Automatic) on a single CD. As with everything else by this most excellent of underground projects, the album owes its inspiration to the psychedelic '60s, but its irresistible wonders really are the province of no specific era or map location. Instead they seem to emerge from some highly animated collective childhood consciousness (in which all revert to kids, at least where senses are concerned), a Wonka factory where the kitchen appliances talk to you and candy rivers run through the living room, or an alternate galaxy where everything that has been cool about pop culture in the past 50 years bleeds together in a whirlwind of color and multi-sensory delight. It is as if the Beach Boys had joined forces with the Monkees as superheroes in a Saturday-morning cartoon, part Hanna-Barbera, part Sid & Marty Krofft, with Pee Wee Herman as the communal band's manager. This, then, might represent the ideal soundtrack to such a strange hybrid, a rocketship of pop music that vaults listeners through a weird universe of three-minute psychedelic jukebox tunes. "Admiral Albert's Apparition" makes its initial appearance here, as does an alternate take on "Intoxicating Violet," while the EP is the original home of "East Coast Surfin'," which makes better sense in this context than on the collection Pop in a CD. Everything else is fresh -- and most of it is exquisitely so, particularly the jaunty nuggets "Blue Prince" and "Sewing Machine," a remake of Herman's Hermits' "Museum," and the self-explanatory oddity "Miss Hurry Weather's Overcoat." Oddly enough, this is among the more consistent re-releases in the Squires of the Subterrain's oeuvre. Not quite on a par with the masterpieces Liquid Sundays and Hello Good Morning, the album is nevertheless only a hair's-breath behind.

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