The Chesterfield Kings have been chasing the ghost of the Rolling Stones in one way or another since they released their first album in 1983 (in all fairness, they're also clearly obsessed with a few hundred other bands who made cool records between 1963 and 1967), so the group's belated embrace of psychedelia asks the question -- can the Chesterfield Kings make a better "trippy" album than Their Satanic Majesty's Request? To a certain degree, it's an "apples and oranges" argument, since the Kings have tossed in a few examples of tried and true garage rock raunch to leaven the more lysergic accents on Psychedelic Sunrise, such as the wickedly fuzzy "Outtasite!," and "Elevator Ride" is such a clear (and well-executed) Who lift that Pete Townshend will either feel honored or call his lawyer. But the strings and harpsichord arrangement on "Inside Looking Out," the epochal antiwar screed "Rise and Fall," the black-painted percussion accents of "Spanish Sun," and the rhythmic push and pull of "Yesterday's Sorrows" at least achieve their sonic goals with greater clarity and concision than Mick and Keef's grand experiment in mind expansion. Along the way, the Chesterfield Kings also manage to quote the Louvin Brothers and Exile on Main St. at the same time on "Stayed Too Long" (somewhere Gram Parsons is smiling) and to divvy up some rich organ-based psych-blues on "Gone," while "Streaks and Flashes" is one impressive salute to visual disturbance. The production on Psychedelic Sunrise is terrific, capturing a wealth of period details with commendable accuracy, and the Kings' obsession with the mid-'60s is matched only by the skill and enthusiasm with which they can re-create the sounds of the era. Contemporary garage-psych albums don't get much more "grand scale" than this -- or much better.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming