Jeff Simmons

Naked Angels [Original Soundtrack]

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If rock fans are likely to know the name Jeff Simmons, it's because of his work as bassist in the Mothers of Invention; if they know anything about his obscure solo career, the only album they're likely to know is Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up, issued in the early 1970s. But he did a yet more obscure album for Frank Zappa's Straight label, the soundtrack for the equally obscure biker movie Naked Angels, around the same time. As the liner notes to the CD reissue on Fallout laconically observe, it "was never intended to be a masterpiece." Yet by the shaky standards of biker soundtrack/psychedelic exploitation LPs, it's not bad at all; it's definitely one of the better ones, in fact, in this admittedly limited genre. While it's sometimes been described as something of a collection of psychedelic jamming, the mostly instrumental tracks (co-written with producer Randy Steirling) are actually fairly short and focused, the 14 tracks adding up to 36 minutes. If the themes and riffs are on the basic side, they're reasonably effective in projecting drama and menace. There's some pretty hot fuzz/distorted psychedelic guitar (particularly on the opening "Naked Angels Theme"), and unlike some biker/psychedelic soundtracks, the LP doesn't get stuck in a rut. "Ride into Vegas" glides into some pretty hip organ soul-jazz, for instance, and there's also '50s style rock & roll ("Vegas Boogie"), mildly Pink Floyd-ish folkie guitar-organ interplay ("End Theme," one of the few vocal cuts, and "Cop Out"), obviously silly psychedelicized Scottish bagpipe music ("Scots Breath"), gothic organ-piano doom ("Tuccata for Truck"), and Zappa-like sound collage ("Bar Dream"). Sure it's mostly for hardcore collectors, but as hardcore collectibles go, it's pretty enjoyable and worthwhile.

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