Late-'60s New York-based flower child Cosmic Michael is one of the scads of ultra-obscure recording artists from the original psychedelic era whose records were swept under the rug of time completely. Copies left from the astonishingly small initial pressings have been trading hands among collectors for obscene amounts of money, ranking Cosmic Michael's crude, handmade psychedelia with records of the same era by MIJ, Gary Higgins, and Kenneth Higney. This disc collects both of Cosmic Michael's private press albums, including a 1969 self-titled set and 1970's After a While. Unlike the drifting stoner vibes of most loner psyche records, Cosmic Michael's talent for boogie-woogie rock piano comes through as equally as the acidic jamming. Tunes like "River City," "Salty Jam," and of course "The Heavy Boogie" are mostly showcases for Michael's grooving boogie organ or piano skills, if couched in extremely muddy lo-fidelity recording quality. While the self-titled material sees the tunes filled out by a full band, the songs from After a While are of a more stripped-down orchestration, Cosmic Michael's voice in one speaker, piano in the other, and the occasional warbly kazoo or harmonica. While the sparsity of After a While makes it a more eerie affair, it's no less engaging than the fried boogie of the other songs. The very topical "Woodstock Nation" crystallizes the demo-like nonchalance of these albums. With a barely audible vocal mumbling casually about peace, love, and revolution everything seems normal until the lyrical turn "I saw the Who and Ten Years After/Jefferson Airplane nearly blew my mind!" The collection is full of head-scratching moments like these. Even for his time, Cosmic Michael was by no means a career musician or even remotely concerned with professionalism in music. This innocence and oblivion are largely what makes these very odd songs such a breath of fresh air.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas