Various Artists

Beyond the Calico Wall

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Beyond the Calico Wall (1996) is a 20-track compilation of psychedelic subversions from the guru of all but forgotten '60s underground rock, Greg Shaw -- who founded Voxx in the late '70s as an alternative to new wave and techno/synth pop. By the time retro became au courant in the mid-'80s, the label had established itself as a trendsetter. The core purpose of sets such as this is to -- by whatever means feasible -- present buried treasures and long-forgotten classics. As such, the audio quality is often a reflection of the lack of pristine source materials. However, the raw essence of the music remains unblemished, if not somehow enhanced in its honesty. All of the pieces are unbridled master strokes of the proto-punk D.I.Y. mentality married to the equally inspired garage rock psych of the mid- to late '60s. In a significant nod to collectors, none of these sides can be found on run-of-the-mill "best-of" anthologies, and there are only a mere handful that are available in any other incarnation. The material ranges from highly infectious pop melodies such as Duffy's spry rocker "Come Back Come Back" or the speed-fueled madness of the Waterproof Tinkertoy's trippy "Continuation." There are also a fair amount of indescribably acidic and downright far-out cuts, including the repetitive "Suzie's Gone" by the Afterglow and the rambling of Ceylib People's "Changes." In addition to the plethora of unearthed gems, Beyond the Calico Wall features a few familiar titles -- such as the faithfully extended 11-plus minute reworking of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" from 6 Feet Under as well as Rasputin & the Mad Monks' jet-propelled rendering of "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)." Bhagavad Gita includes a mid-tempo distortion-driven electric guitar wailer titled "Long Hair Soulful," which was co-written by Chuck Mangione -- who included his version on his Eyes of the Veiled Temptress (1988). It is unknown if the famed jazz fl├╝gelhorn player was once a member of this Ohio-based band. The casual consumer might best be served by the decidedly more mainstream Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968 or the slightly more esoteric Pebbles series. Those who relish virtually unknown rock & roll relics in all manifestations will be enthralled by this release. The eight-page liner booklet gives some brief information on each band and in some cases photos, adverts, and other memorabilia where available.

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