The Smoke

The Smoke

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Copies of the Smoke's self-titled album are highly valued by collectors of West Coast soft rock and psychedelic music. The album certainly deserves its reputation as one of the masterpieces of 1968. It opens with the organ-driven "Cowboys and Indians," which was producer/songwriter Michael Lloyd's personal homage to Brian Wilson's "Heroes and Villains" and lyrically makes mention of war (obviously the Vietnam War was very much on everyone's minds at the time). Lloyd had met Wilson after Beach Boy Bruce Johnston invited him to the recording sessions for "Good Vibrations." In addition to Beach Boys-style production values, there are also references to the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band throughout. (The chorus to "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is even quoted in the fade to Lloyd's "Fogbound.") Other references pop up in the warm "Gold Is the Colour of Thought," which features an amazing arrangement encompassing Sgt. Pepper's-esque bursts of trumpet, strings, harpsichord, and sweet harmonies. The harpsichord-driven "October Country," a song previously recorded by the Lloyd-produced group of the same name earlier that year, reappears here with Lloyd handling the vocal lead chores this time, wrapped around bright strings. The album is dedicated to Stuart Sutcliffe. Fans of post-Pet Sounds West Coast psych-pop or Curt Boettcher-produced groups (the Millennium, Sagittarius) will love this album.

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