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Conception Review

by Jo-Ann Greene

No wonder they were Frantic, this was a band with a personality crisis. Inspired by Beatlemania, the Frantics, as they were initially known, sprang out of the non-existent Billings, MT music scene.

Numerous lineup shifts and a move to New Mexico ensued, before the band, then calling themselves Frantic, settled briefly in Oklahoma City in 1966. There they linked up with the Rascals and hit the road, eventually landing in NYC. When it all went south, the group returned to New Mexico before California beckoned. There, Frantic finally landed a deal with Lizard Records, resulting in their debut Conception album. Unfortunately, all those years touring hadn't helped the group develop their own sound, which remained beholden to their many idols, nor had it left them time for songwriting -- only half the set was penned by them. That said, the covers are the most astonishing tracks on the set. The high point is definitely "Hey Joe," built around Kim Sherman's melancholy surf guitar and Jim Haas' cathedral organ. A garage-psych take on the Doors "Little Girl" is different, if nothing else, while "Morning Dew" starts in poppy Jefferson Airplane territory before taking off towards British prog-dom. The Pretty Things' "Midnight to Six Man" gets the ultimate workout as the band bang through garage-psych into

prog rock and British Invasion territory. The Yardbirds don't get covered, but do get an homage on Frantic's own "Scitnarf," featuring Dennis Devlin' rollicking harmonica. Of their own numbers, arguably "Shady Sam," with its Eastern influences and intriguing use of percussion, is the most interesting. It doesn't, however, hold a candle to anything the British prog rock scene was currently unleashing. And that was Frantic's problem: so much great music, so little time to learn and regurgitate it all. Barrelling from boogie to psych, R&B to pop, the group were jacks of all sounds and master of none. Bet they kicked butt live, though.

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