From the atrocious junior-high level psychedelic cover artwork that graces Bokay Retsiem's Psychedelic Underground, it might seem the most appropriate first response would be to bury the album underground. And although the exploitative genesis of the music is certainly discernible and often distractingly so, it does have somewhat more to offer than initial assumptions betray. Little is know about the release. It was released in 1968 on a German exploitation label. Reiner Degner is the featured musician. He composes all eleven songs and interludes, but the other players - assisting on keyboards, bass, and organ - are unknown. That is just as well, and perhaps symbolic, because the music is mostly faceless and indistinct. Most of the tracks are separated by superfluous instrumental interludes, each one variation on the "Three Blind Mice" melody, seemingly to show off some additional tonal color or, more likely, Degner's nifty guitar skills. Admittedly, some the guitar playing is superb, and Psychedelic Underground has an irresistibly swank ambience that captures perfectly the seedy go-go chic of the times, but guitar playing and trippy, drugged-out ambience alone do not create songs. Minus actual songwriting vision, the music sounds exceedingly dated. Nevertheless, there is still a lot to appreciate (or be amused by) about the endeavor. "So Bad" opens the album with a nifty bad-vibe interpolation of the Animals' version of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" and then proceeds to play that freakout groove into the ground via blatant Hendrix cops. Despite the excesses, though, the guitar work is frequently nervy and exciting, and occasionally even inventive, dipping into Middle Eastern chord progressions, while the phased organ and guitar hit upon a drunken, oscillating vibe. The German-accented English of "I'm So Afraid" is virtually incomprehensible, but it matters little because it is one of the album's most successful cuts, with fabulously swanky Hammond B3 organ adding a bit of humor beneath excessive (but wonderfully phased) guitar runs. By and large, though, the conceits of the recording are cringe-inducing. For that reason alone, Psychedelic Underground is almost impossible to listen to as a serious piece of music, but it does offer its share of enjoyment if listened to in the spirit of the era.
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AllMusic Review by Stanton Swihart