Bud Mathis was an all-round mover and shaker on the Sunset Strip throughout the '60s, and in a manner not unlike Kim Fowley, he used his knowledge of what was "hip" and "in" to manage bands, write songs, and even attempt performing himself. Bud Mathis Sunset Strip features 14 cuts recorded between 1963 and 1967 and is a solid compilation of garage, folk-rock, and psychedelia. The Brain Train, later to become Clear Light, open the album with both sides of their September 1967 45: "Me" is a pounding psych-punk effort that blends a mystical lyric and quasi-religious backing vocals with some fine Jeff Beck-inspired guitar rave-ups. The flip "Black Roses" is the very same song the band re-recorded as Clear Light for their debut 45; this earlier version has even more power and a nice West Coast feel supplied by the female backing vocalist. Also of notable quality are the three Joint Effort tracks which exemplify the feel of the "Free Love," flowers, and beads era of the Strip in 1967 with harmony vocals, jangling folk-rock guitars, and fuzzed-out solos working together in unison. The earlier garage-punk/frat efforts by Bud Mathis & the Fairviews, the Fairviews, the 5th Dimension, and Mike Mathis aren't as strong by any means, but are integral to a study of the development of Mathis as a writer and Svengali. Even though the cruder material sits somewhat uncomfortably alongside the folk-rock and psychedelia, this is a varied and enjoyable set.
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AllMusic Review by Jon "Mojo" Mills