When considering the geographical origins of the paisley underground movement of the early '80s, the Midwest isn't the first place you would think of. During the West Coast uprising of bands like Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade, Thin White Rope, the Three O'Clock, and Green on Red, the Milwaukee-based Plasticland had already been knee-deep in psychedelia due, in part, to the rare record-collecting fetish of founding members Glenn Rehse (vocals, guitar, organ) and John Frankovic (bass). From the get-go, Plasticland bypassed the darker Velvet Underground influence that most bands of the era were paying lip service to. Their goal was to pursue a brighter, more melodic musical approach, thus avoiding pointless jamming behind walls of feedback when lacking inspiration. Instead, they embraced the sights and sounds of early British flower-power pop initiated 15 years earlier by such influences as Tomorrow, Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett, the Smoke, and the Creation. The 30 tracks on Make Yourself a Happening Machine: A Collection gather on CD for the first time the best from their albums, EPs, flexi-discs, and various compilations, some of it having been out of print for years. The sound quality here is uniformly excellent, as are the detailed liner notes by Nigel Cross. As is the case with the Cramps' timeless approach to rockabilly, Plasticland didn't simply ape retro pseudo-psychedelia; they are everlastingly there and you're along for the ride. Only complaint: leaving off "Elongations" and their admirable version of the Pretty Things' "Alexander."
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