Various Artists

Love, Peace & Poetry: American Psychedelic Music

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A couple of things differentiate this 18-song compilation from the usual obscure psychedelia reissue. The cuts date from a slightly later vintage than the usual compilation of this sort (1968-1971, except for a track each from 1973 and 1977), which gives it much less of a garage, and somewhat more of a "progressive," feel than much of its competition. Also, the track selection is focused on "private-press" LPs that were issued in minute quantities, often primarily for friends and locals. Lazy Smoke, Hunger, the Music Emporium, and if you push it, Darius and the New Tweedy Brothers, might be familiar to some specialist collectors, but otherwise you'd have a hard time getting a roomful of folks together who've heard of all these groups. All that said, the music, while reflecting the diversity of sounds released on obscure U.S. psychedelic recordings, is largely untouched by genius. It's more like a folkloric time capsule illustrating how far the influence of acid rock extended, down to untold numbers of bands playing original if usually derivative material on LPs that had no chance of finding a wide audience. It's certainly listenable, with the female vocals by Victoria and Music Emporium adding some texture not usually found on such anthologies. Hunger's "Colors" stands out from the pack with its bolero rhythms, creepy organ, liquid distorted guitar, and hardened vocal. Better yet is Darius' "Shades of Blue," which sounds like a crazed, downbeat Lee Michaels, ending with an astonishing pained scream; his self-titled 1968 album (from which this was taken) is well worth finding.

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