Various Artists

With Love: A Pot of Flowers

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An eclectic time capsule -- its grooves enshrining four Bay Area bands of decidedly different stripes -- this compilation runs the gamut from mind-altering psychedelia to jangly folk to Anglophilic rock. Similarly, a wide range of talent is represented (from stellar to abysmal). Overall, however, With Love: A Pot of Flowers is a worthwhile addition to any '60s collection. The album's three highlights -- "I Think I'm Down," "Streetcar," and "Walking Down the Road" -- are among the best releases of 1966 (having previously appeared as singles for their respective bands). With its Jagger-esque vocal, humorous lyric (the plaint of a long-limbed equestrian), and red-line fuzztone lead, "I Think I'm Down" is simply killer. "Streetcar" recalls the Who's "A Legal Matter" with electric piano effects; while "Walking Down the Road" is turbocharged Kingston Trio with the sounds of a psilocybic Keystone Kops paddy wagon in the bridge. Of the three remaining tracks by the Harbinger Complex, "When You Know You're in Love" easily outsparkles the others with its snappy syncopation. "Time to Kill" is wistful, anti-establishment wordplay on a theme of Vietnam. Given lead singer Jim Hockstaff's habit of leaving girlfriends in the family way, "My Dear and Kind Sir" (a suitor's plea to a father for his daughter's hand) smacks of tongue-in-cheek irony. Its folksy musical stylings hark back to gold rush-era San Francisco. Meanwhile, two of Wildflower's offerings ("Wind Dream" and "Coffee Cup") suffer beneath the dead weight of bombastic lyricism. The former is a dreary ballad; the latter meanders aimlessly through claves and bongos. This pair, with Euphoria's "No Me Tomorrow," are the album's low watermarks. "No Me Tomorrow" is reminiscent of the Third Bardo's "I'm Five Years Ahead of My Time," and wallows indulgently in self-pity (and advocates what? an OD?). Its best moment is its raga-rock fade, suggesting the singer's voyage across the River Styx. To be fair, however, it must be said that Euphoria's other cut, "Hungry Women," is fair-to-middling psychedelia. With its start-stop raga complexities, it clearly anticipates Bubble Puppy's "Hot Smoke and Sassafras." The Wildflower track "Baby Dear," a curious leadoff for the album, is a sort of happy protest song that features an endless slow drum roll. On "Jump In," Wildflower finally get it together, rise above their lyrical handicap, generate some clever lines, and present an appealing tune. In any floral arrangement, some blooms wilt or become stale, but on the whole, this Pot of Flowers has aged well.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 2:23 Spotify
2 2:17 Spotify
3 3:19 Spotify
4 2:18
5 2:18 Spotify
6 2:26 Spotify
7 2:47 Spotify
8 2:23 Spotify
9 2:13 Spotify
10 3:11 Spotify
11 2:10 Spotify
12 2:26
13 2:33
14 2:47
15 2:17
16 2:56
17 2:02
18 2:49
19 2:04
20 2:41
21 1:53
22 2:40
23 2:17 Spotify
24 2:21
25 3:02 Spotify
26 2:26 Spotify
blue highlight denotes track pick