Being the leading hippie band in Columbia, Missouri in the late '60s and early '70s might not sound like a major distinction in the 21st century, but for a few years White Eyes flew that freak flag with pride, and 40 years after they called it quits, there's an album to document their brief moment of glory. In late 1969, White Eyes went into a studio to cut an album-length demo in hopes of landing a record deal that never materialized, but their eight-song tape has finally been given a commercial release by the archivists at Numero Group. Heard today, White Eyes certainly sound a cut above the average band playing the ballroom circuit in the Midwest; the demo was essentially cut live in the studio, and the group is impressively tight, with some blazing lead guitar work from Kent "Duck" Linneweh, powerful lead vocals from Cat Sherrell (who was just 14 when she joined the group), and stellar harmonies from Greg Camp and Philip Jackson (who also traded back and forth on bass and guitar). White Eyes weren't an especially heavy psychedelic band, evoking the sound of the major San Francisco bands of the day but with a poppier vibe (it's worth noting the White Eyes' demo opened with a faithful cover of Three Dog Night's arrangement of the Lennon & McCartney obscurity "It's for You"), but the songwriting is solid, the instrumental interplay is enthusiastic (even though Butch Dillon's drums don't fare well in the mix), and the harmonies (clearly influenced by Crosby, Stills & Nash and Jefferson Airplane) are excellent, with Sherrell showing the potential to grow into a major talent. While a few notches short of mind-blowing, White Eyes documents a band that honestly deserved a wider hearing than it received back in the day, and if you have an interest in vintage psychedelia and late-'60s rock, this merits your attention.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming