In the mid- to late '60s you couldn't get much further underground in the ever-expanding world of rock music than the Fugs -- unless of course you were one of the Holy Modal Rounders, i.e. folk musicians Peter Stampfel and Steve Weber. The Rounders started out in the same early-'60s New York folk and jug scene as Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg, and had crossed paths numerous times. Stampfel and Weber will be eternally remembered for "Bird Song," which was prominently featured in both the movie Easy Rider and its soundtrack. It's also the opening cut on The Moray Eels Eat the Holy Modal Rounders, an album way beyond anything else considered to be "far out" at the time. Released in 1968 on Elektra, the 13 tracks are highlighted by such otherworldly compositions as "Werewolf," "My Mind Capsized," "The STP Song," and "Half a Mind." Unabashed in its own eccentricity, this set is similar to their 1967 ESP release Indian War Whoop in that it combines acoustic traditional American folk, blues, and hillbilly music regurgitated by crazed folkie acidheads experimenting with electric instruments. Following the disc's release, Stampfel said this album reflected producer Frazier Mohawk's musical taste more so than the band's. The Modal duo are assisted, in this case, by playwright Sam Shepard on tambourine, Richard Tyler on piano, and John Wesley Annis on bass and drums. As good luck would have it, the Water label unleashed this CD on the public for the first time in 2002 with two previously unreleased bonus tracks. Absolutely essential.
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AllMusic Review by Al Campbell