Gail Zappa dies; oversaw Frank’s legacy

Gail Zappa, a fierce and creative guardian of the legacy of her husband Frank Zappa, has died. She was 70. Gail Zappa died "peacefully at her home ... surrounded by her children," the Zappa family said in a statement. The cause of death reportedly was lung cancer. Frank Zappa died in 1993. Several months ago, Gail Zappa turned over day-to-day management of the Zappa Family Trust to her son Ahmet. Her other children with Frank Zappa are Moon Unit, Dweezil and Diva. (Dweezil fronts the acclaimed tribute act Zappa Plays Zappa.) "Married to Frank Zappa at age 22, Gail was a doe-eyed, barefooted trailblazer, giving equal value to her domestic and professional responsibilities as matriarch of the family and overseer of all Zappa enterprises," the family's statement said. "Gail, … [Read more...]

Levitation lands Wilson, ‘Pet Sounds’

Brian Wilson will resurrect "Pet Sounds" for the 2016 edition of the nation's largest psychedelic music festival, Levitation. The performance marks a half century of the Beach Boys album, considered one of the top albums in the history of rock. Wilson's booking comes a year after the Austin, Texas, fest arranged for the historic reunion of hometown heroes the Thirteenth Floor Elevators. Other key performers announced for Levitation 2016 are Animal Collective, Lee Scratch Perry, the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Flying Lotus and Sleep. The festival runs April 29-May 1, back for the fifth year at Carson Creek Ranch outside Austin. Levitation formerly was known as the Austin Psych Fest. Wilson has performed the 1966 Beach Boys masterpiece on and off since the turn of the century, … [Read more...]

Love’s ‘Reel to Real’ fast-fowarded

The more or less forgotten Love album "Reel to Real" makes its CD debut in late November, fortified with four "newly discovered" tracks by Arthur Lee. The 1974 album also will be "back on vinyl after more than 40 years" via a Feb. 19 rerelease on vinyl, according to the High Moon label. High Moon debuted the unreleased "Black Beauty" album by Lee several years ago. The "Real" album includes a dozen bonus tracks, 11 of them previously unreleased. Lee's classic lineup of Love -- the band behind the psychedelic music treasure "Forever Changes" -- was long gone. "Reel to Real" featured Lee working with his "Black Beauty" band and a posse of studio musicians, most notably the guitarist Harvey Mandel and the keyboardist Bobby Lyle. Like many albums of the day, it employed a trio … [Read more...]

Zappa revival via new deal, documentary

Frank Zappa's musical legacy is back for a lube job with news that the the Zappa Family Trust and Universal Music Enterprise have inked a new global licensing deal. The late musician also will be the subject of a feature-length documentary in development with participation of the Zappa family. Meanwhile, Zappa's son Ahmet has taken over day-to-day operations of the family's company, with the blessing of sometimes-controversial catalog guardian Gail Zappa. The Frank Zappa documentary comes from actor-filmmaker Alex Winter ("Deep Web"). A 2017 release is envisioned. The first Zappa Records/UMe release under the new deal will be a remastered 40th anniversary edition of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention's "One Size Fits All" on vinyl, due Aug. 14. More unspecified 2015 … [Read more...]

No. 45: ‘Ball’

"Filled with Fear" was more than a song title -- consider it truth in advertising for the contents of Iron Butterfly's "Ball," the hurried but solid followup album to "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." Anchored by songs of dread and existential panic, the album in some ways anticipates John Lennon's primal-therapy explorations of "Plastic Ono Band," still several years away. Imaginative listeners can hear in 1969's "Ball" the death throes of the 1960s. Here is "the story of a maddening darkness," one song warns listeners. Still, the Southern California band remained true to its ethos of heavy and light -- acid rock leavened with a "melodic consciousness" -- resulting in a relatively tight album that to modern ears sounds like Iron Butterfly's best. To the extent that Iron Butterfly ever truly … [Read more...]

Quad Doors, live Yes, EL&P spark Q2

Classic but freshly repolished goods from the Doors, Yes, the Yardbirds, EL&P and Miles Davis promise a strong second quarter in the psychedelic music world. The Doors' music remained in strong demand a few years after the death of singer Jim Morrison. Elektra looked to give the music new spark with a "Best Of" collection in quadraphonic. The four-channel format fizzled, and Doors marketers moved on to other repackaging jobs, but the quad collection was never forgotten by the early adopters of long ago. Ace audio revivalist Steve Hoffman delivers the goods June 2 with a hybrid SACD containing the original quad mix and his re-do of the two-channel stereo mix. Tracks include the usual suspects as well as "Who Do You Love," "Take It As It Comes" and "Moonlight Drive." "I think that … [Read more...]

Kim Fowley dies; L.A. record producer

Kim Fowley, a strange and prolific rock music producer known for his work with L.A. bands, has died at age 75. Fowley was best known for creating the all-female band the Runaways in the 1970s, but before that he was a key player on the Sunset Strip scene. Inevitably described as a Svengali, he also wrote songs and recorded albums under his own name. "He'd been everywhere, done everything, knew everybody," said Steve Van Zandt, his friend and boss at the satellite radio channel Underground Garage. Directly or indirectly, Fowley worked with the Mothers of Invention, the Byrds, the Seeds, Blue Cheer, Warren Zevon, Cat Stevens, Alice Cooper, Leon Russell, P.J. Proby, KISS and the Soft Machine. That's Fowley speaking in tongues on Frank Zappa's early psychedelic classic "Help, I’m a … [Read more...]

No. 9: ‘Eight Miles High’

The song started off on familiar footing for early 1966: a killer bass line, straight out of the garage. But seconds into the Byrds' "Eight Miles High," listeners were off on a sonic adventure, destination unknown. Change was coming to the music scene at supersonic speeds. Here was the early warning, blaring out of AM radios. This at a time when "psychedelic music" was mostly a rumor. "Eight Miles High" seemed to come out of nowhere -- as did so much great 1960s music -- but in retrospect there’s a clear lineage: The cluttered, borderline dissonant instrumental sections were unprecedented in rock & roll, but not in jazz, where artists such as John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman shunned traditional harmonic structure in favor of free-form heroics. The Byrds made much of "Eight Miles … [Read more...]

Beach Boys’ audiophile vibrations

The Beach Boys' classic albums are returning to market in various audiophile formats, beginning this month and running through 2015. Psychedelic-era works include "Pet Sounds," "Surf's Up," "Smiley Smile" and "Sunflower." Analogue Productions' series begins Dec. 16. with early band titles "Surfin' Safari" and "Surfin' USA" and three others, on 200 gram mono vinyl. The reissues are mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio, "most from the original master tapes or best sources available." "These are the best sounding and best-looking versions of the Beach Boys records that have ever been produced," said Chad Kassem, owner and CEO of label parent Acoustic Sounds. Jan. 6 sees the rerelease of the early albums in stereo. The later-period Beach Boys titles are coming "later in … [Read more...]

Doors talking about an ‘R-Evolution’

The Doors' "R-Evolution" video collection surfaces Jan. 21 in the U.S., unspooling on Blu-ray and DVD. Audio is in 5.1 surround, "remixed and mastered" by the L.A. group's faithful engineer Bruce Botnick. The deluxe Blu-ray edition offers a 40-page "DVD sized" hard-back book, streeting for about $45. The basic Blu-ray (no book) should run you less than $14. The Doors collection includes band music videos and vintage TV appearances -- notably appearances on the Smothers Brothers, Jonathan Winters and American Bandstand. Rareities include a color "Hello I Love You" from German TV (September 1968), outtakes from "Malibu U." (August 1967) and a "Crawling King Snake" from Australia (March 1971). The videos range from your basic lip-synching network gigs to the band's psychedelic … [Read more...]

Psychedelic Sight via email

Be sure to respond to confirmation message!

Click here to SUBSCRIBE TO PSYCHEDELIC SIGHT