Record Store Day ’16: Doors, Hendrix, Prunes

The usual and unusual suspects populate Record Store Day 2016, keyed by releases from psychedelic stars the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, the 13th Floor Elevators and Frank Zappa. From the fringes come the space rock of Sun Ra, offbeat freakbeat from Britain, ragas from Ravi Shankar and Japanese "Monster a Go-Go." Record Store Day 2016 is Saturday, April 16. Releases are all on vinyl and are Record Store Day exclusives unless noted (top section). The Doors: "Live at the Aquarius: The First Performance" chronicles the band's first night at the Hollywood venue, summer of 1969. Three LPs. Tracks include "Soul Kitchen," "Mystery Train/Crossroads" and "Who Do You Love." Rhino, on blue vinyl. 5,000 copies. Previously released on CD. The Doors: Live version of "Roadhouse Blues" backed with "A … [Read more...]

Cream, Tull, Prunes, Airplane spark Q2

Psychedelic music just turned a half century old. Far out. Record labels are celebrating with key rereleases from artists like Cream, the Electric Prunes, Jethro Tull and Jefferson Airplane. Here's a curiously curated preview of psychedelic/'60s music titles due in March and into the second quarter of 2016: Cream's "Disraeli Gears" made the cut as one of the first titles in Universal Music Group's upcoming revival of the half-speed mastered process. The psychedelic touchstone ("Sunshine of Your Love," "Tales of Brave Ulysses") was prepped for its latest audiophile vinyl outing at Abbey Road Studios. "This album was cut from a high-resolution digital transfer from the best known analogue tape in existence," says engineer Miles Showell. (Half-speed mastered albums were popular in the … [Read more...]

A psychedelic British invasion for Q1

King Crimson, Led Zeppelin, Eric Burdon, Jeff Beck and the Pretty Things put an English accent on the slate of new releases for a new year. Here's a roundup of what's coming in the realm of psychedelic music: King Crimson stormed downtown L.A. several months ago for a pair of acclaimed concerts. A live document surfaces Jan. 20 via Discipline Global Mobile. Clocking in at (a mere) 41 minutes, it includes versions of "Starless," "The Letters" and "Sailor's Tale." Robert Fripp's new lineup included a trio of drummers at stage front, with the remaining musicians working to the rear, on a riser. The CD version (16/44.1 stereo) comes with a second DVD-A (24/96 Hi-Res stereo) of the same material. Also available: 200 gram vinyl "limited to a single pressing." (Psychedelic Sight was on site at … [Read more...]

Deep Purple, Beatles, Dead set for Q3

Classical-rock fusion from Deep Purple, mono LPs from the Beatles and a primo box set from the Grateful Dead pace the psychedelic music releases for the year's third quarter. Here's the roundup: In 1969, classical music and psychedelic rock merged for one night only at (where else?) London's Royal Albert Hall. The summit redefined long-hair music. Crossover classical was born, but the rockers dumped the tuxes en route to the heavy metal foundry. Deep Purple's "Concerto for Group and Orchestra" takes an encore Aug. 26 in a vinyl box set. The music was composed by the late Jon Lord, with Malcolm Arnold conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Rhino's set revives the 2002 EMI special edition, which had expanded the original vinyl release to include the entire groundbreaking program … [Read more...]

Ramases: Collected and celebrated

"Ramases: Complete Discography" is truth in advertising, unfortunately. A house fire claimed demo tapes for what was to be the third album by the eccentric British singer-songwriter. Otherwise, it's all here. The release of this six-CD box set is found treasure for the cult of Ramases, such as it is. Only a thousand physical copies are being produced of "Ramases: Complete Discography," reflecting the artist's deep obscurity. Yet this is no rote kitchen-sink project. The record label owner, actor Peter Stormare, whose fandom goes back to Ramases' 1971 debut album, has crafted two outstanding and unique discs from the limited catalog: One, a significant sonic restoration of Ramases' troubled second album; the other an unusually viable tribute album from contemporary artists. Both … [Read more...]

No. 22: ‘Ummagumma’

Here be dragons. Dragons, and dust from the bones of kings and traitors. Stonehenge. The funk of 4,000 years. Spacemen and madmen. Your mental movie may vary. Hear in it what you will, but English psychedelic music peaked here, courtesy of the sonic beast that was Pink Floyd circa 1969 -- captured live and in full throat on disc 1 of "Ummagumma," the band's polarizing third album. "Ummagumma" could have been the greatest live psychedelic music album of them all, and perhaps it still is, by default. But before that discussion we must dispense with disc 1's sad-sack sibling, a studio vanity project that gave each member of the quartet his own album side to flail about. Consider that one the "Ummagumma" bonus CD, odds & sods for hardcore fans. A record to be played once a decade, if … [Read more...]

‘Miles at the Fillmore’: uncut 1970 brew

"Miles Runs the Voodoo Down," the song title went. And so he did, playing dark and spellbinding music in Bill Graham's Fillmore Auditoriums over a two-year period in the early 1970s. "You can hear that anger and darkness and the craziness of everything that was still in the air from the '60s when this music was made," says the guitarist Carlos Santana, a Fillmore regular and witness to the eruption of the electric Miles Davis. Even today, Santana remains awestruck by Davis' psychedelic proto-funk, as is made clear in his liner notes to a significant restoration of the old live album "Miles Davis at Fillmore" that's due from Columbia/Legacy in March. Davis' psychedelic period began, more or less, when "Bitches Brew" was recorded in 1969. He'd been absorbing psychedelic soundscapes, … [Read more...]

Hendrix, Doors, Steppenwolf unleashed

CD and vinyl releases from Jimi Hendrix, Steppenwolf, Syd Barrett, the Doors and Hawkwind keep the psychedelic vibes flowing in the first quarter of 2013. Hendrix's first two albums resurface March 5 featuring a revival of their rarely heard mono mixes. Doors fans waiting for the SACDs should find joy the same day. And Steppenwolf's debut album finally comes off the endangered species list with two audiophile releases. The "new" Jimi Hendrix album, "People, Hell & Angels" is due March 5 on all major audio formats, with a 200 gram vinyl version coming from QRP, Experience Hendrix and Legacy Recordings. The bigger news for vinyl-obsessed Hendrix fans, however, is the day-and-date rerelease of the first two Experience albums -- in mono and lovingly cut to 200 gram platters. "Are … [Read more...]

No. 69: ‘Rocket Number Nine’

Terrestrial data streams indicate Sun Ra departed this Earth on May 30, 1993. Was Ra a stranded extraterrestrial, left to communicate with his home planet via a raft of curious sonic recordings -- much like the alien Newton in "The Man Who Fell to Earth"? Or was Ra a mere human piano player, a guy named Herman looking for a gag to advance his career in jazz -- and finding it in outer-space kitsch. The final report remains ... unclear. We do know that Ra left behind more than a hundred long-players, many with otherworldly names such as "Sun Ra Visits Planet Earth," "The Nubians of Plutonia," "We Travel the Space Ways" and "The Other Side of the Sun." The albums' cover artwork every bit as strange as the "cosmic jazz" within. In the late 1960s, more than a few hippies tried to … [Read more...]

‘Yessongs’ back from edge, on Blu-ray

The 1973 concert film "Yessongs" found only disgrace in the home video world, but that's about to change with a 40th anniversary Blu-ray release. Britain's Pinewood Studios updated the Yes film with high-definition images and a 5.1 surround sound restoration. While the Blu-ray debuts in the U.K. on April 30, no U.S. release has been announced. A spokeswoman for U.K. distributor Odeon Entertainment said via email that the PAL disc would play in U.S. Blu-ray machines. Artist Roger Dean, famed for his psychedelic landscapes for Yes album covers, produced four new postcards for the release. The Blu-ray includes an hour of "new and unseen" extra features, including a 2012 documentary with core Yes members Steve Howe, Roger Dean and Chris Squire, and a 12-minute short with guitarist … [Read more...]

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