Category Archives: psychedelia

Haymarket Square

Haymarket Square

Haymarket Square are yet another example of the brilliant, psychedelic sounds coming from the USA musical underground of the late ’60s through the early 1970s..

Like many other bands featured here on Loud Horizon, they would record only one LP in their time together. But boy – what a doozy! Copies of the original pressing have been sold via Discogs from between £1500 and £2700!

The band came about with the demise of Chicago garage band, The Real Things. As the young band parted for college and other personal reasons, drummer John Kowalski and rhythm guitarist Bob Roma decided to form a new outfit.

Auditions were advertised in their University of Illinois newspaper and other local rags. Guitarist Marc Swenson immediately impressed with his ability to play in the style of The Kinks‘ Dave Davies. No question – he was hired right away!

With an impressive guitarist in place, Bob moved over onto bass. There was now just one integral position to be filled – that of vocalist.

Desperation was setting in on the three young players (John & Bob were 18, Marc, just 17) when out of the blue, Bob received a phone call from the twenty year old, tall, blond Gloria Lambert. She was at that time singing in a Folk band but was looking for something a bit more ‘electric;’ something more raucous and exciting. Gloria, as you can hear on the tracks here, was so strong in her delivery and had that sort of Grace Slick, psychedelic feel to her tone.

It was the perfect match.

This was 1967, and female singers taking on lead vocals in rock bands was at this point, still relatively unusual. The band were already almost one step ahead of other Chicago bands.

Now for a name. Civil disobedience was rife amongst the US student population at this point, and when John Kowalski saw a statue marking a labour riot back in the early 1900s he adopted the name of the location – Haymarket Square.

It wasn’t long before the band’s name and reputation grew to such level that they were opening in the city’s larger venues for established acts like, The Yarbirds, Cream and H.P. Lovecraft.

Shortly thereafter, they were writing their own material with subject matter ranging from various psychedelic topics to the occult. Their sound has a very distinctive feel with the guitar, bass and drums all sharing the heavy load. What struck me though was the drumming – at times very ‘surf’ inspired, and others, more of a pounding, hard rock style. The guitar wails with a fuzzy tone throughout and the bass is played with a real, distinctive bounce. And of course, there’s no getting away from Gloria’s vocals giving an air of Jefferson Airplane.

Only one of the tracks on the album is a ‘cover’ – an outstanding version of Tiny Bradshaw’s ‘Train Kept-A-Rollin’.’ This version tops those of Johnny Burnette and Aerosmith in my opinion.

There are only six tracks on the album too – but with only one coming in at less than seven minutes, there is that wonderful sense of tripped out jamming on the others.

The album is a direct result of the band liaising with two professors from The University of Illinois who put together the ‘Baron & Bailey Light Circus’ which was a dynamic combination of music with changing light patterns. In the summer of ’68, they teamed up with Haymarket Square and the album was exhibited as a living work of art at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

Poster for the Baron & Bailey Light Circus, featuring Haymarket Square – 29th & 30th June 1968

However, shortly after the album was recorded, original member Bob left the band and was replaced on bass by Ken Pitlik. At the same time, they decided to augment their sound with the addition of a rhythm guitarist, Robert Miller.

Haymarket Square continued as a five-piece for another six years before they finally broke up in 1974, the members all going heir own ways.

Sadly, and I’m afraid I don’t know why, there were no more recordings. But if you’re going to leave just a one-album-legacy, then I guess ‘Magic Lantern‘ is about as good as it gets.

(*Band details and history have been gleaned from the additional sleeve-notes to the ‘Magic Lantern’ album, written by drummer and founder member, John Kowalski.)

HAYMARKET SQUARE

Gloria Lambert – Vocals
John Kowalski -Drums
Bob Roma – Bass (’til late ’68)
Marc Swenson – Guitar

+ from late ’68


Ken Pitlik – Bass
Robert Miller – Rhythm Guitar

TITLEFORMATYEARLABEL NOTES
Magic LanternLP1968ChaparralOriginal pressing has sold for over £2600 on Discogs.




Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera

Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera.
Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera – debut (and only) LP
Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera debut single: ‘Flames.’

Five Proud Walkers were initially an R&B band from North London. Formed in 1963, they gigged around the city, establishing a good, strong, reputation and developing their sound to include some of the Jazz and Beat influences that were emerging around the capital.

When vocalist Terry Elliott left in early 1966, he was replaced by Dave Terry from The Impacts. Dave was more of a showman and the band’s stage show became much more theatrical and image conscious.

By the end of that year, the band were in demand not just within the London scene, but across the country. The decision was taken to pack in the day jobs and go full time professional band. Bass player John Treais couldn’t commit, and so left at this point, being replaced by John Ford.

It was now 1967. With their more extravagant stage show and appearance, and the music scene in general taking a more psychedelic turn, it was agreed a new era for the band merited a new name.

Guitarist Colin Forster explains:
“It came out of the dress sense, really, with the clothing an the hair. John Ford worked in a shop in Carnaby Street, so he started getting some interesting clothing, so various things developed from that, like Regency styles of clothing. Elmer (Dave Terry) got this hat and cape and somebody said that he looked like Burt Lancaster in that movie ‘Elmer Gantry,’ and we just added ‘Velvet Opera.’ We never knew about the Velvet Underground, but velvet was ‘in’ an ‘Opera’ was the fact that we were doing an act on stage.”

(Dave Terry hadn’t actually planned on becoming ‘Elmer Gantry’ but as the frontman, people would just make the assumption. The band found it funny and would take the mickey, and so the name stuck.)

The band’s first single, ‘Flames,’ gained a lot of radio play and was a favourite of the young John Peel on his ‘Top Gear’ shows. Although it didn’t quite chart, the track was included on the CBS ‘sampler’ album, ‘The Rock Machine Turns You On,’ which also featured Bob Dylan, Moby Grape, Spirit, The Byrds and The Zombies.

Selling at half the price of a standard LP, the compilation reached the Album Chart Top 20, ensuring the band’s music was now being heard by a massive new audience.

Impetus created and momentum building, the band headed into the studio to produce an album of their own. The eponymous named debut is a fantastic mix of psych-pop, raga, soul, harder rock and Vaudeville, I don’t think I’d be far off saying Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera were like a proto Sensational Alex Harvey Band. They were also ‘punk’ before Punk formally announced itself nine years later.

Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera – ‘Air’.

Sadly, this would be the band’s only album release with this line-up, with guitarist Colin Forster leaving in April 1968, his place being taken by Paul Brett. They continued gigging but the chemistry had been upset and having been coerced by their label into recording a single ‘Volcano’ that did’t really meet the band’s profile, Elmer himself left.

Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera were no more, though Hudson, Ford and Brett added Johnny Joyce as singer / guitarist and recorded one album, ‘Ride a Hustler’s Dream‘ in 1969 as Velvet Opera.

Elmer himself formed the Elmer Gantry Band before joining the cast of ‘Hair,’ then in the Seventies joining the band Stretch and recording with the likes of Jon Lord, Cozy Powell and the Alan Parsons Project.

Hudson and Ford would go on to success with The Strawbs, before their #8 hit single, ‘Pick Up The Pieces‘ as Hudson-Ford. They also had another two top 40 singles and released several albums as a duo.

Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera -‘I Was Cool.

ELMER GANTRY’S VELVET OPERA

Elmer Gantry – Vocals
Colin Forster – Guitar
John Ford – Bass
Richard ‘Hud’ Hudson – Drums

TITLEFORMATYEARLABEL NOTES
Flames / Salisbury Plain7″ single1967Direction
Flames / What’s The Point Of Leaving7″ single1968Epic
Mary Jane 7″ single 1968CBS
Volcano7″ single1969Direction
Elmer Gantry’s Velvet OperaLP1968Direction

(** Information for this post was gleaned from the album’s insert notes by Mike Stax of Ugly Things Magazine.**)

Stone Harbour

Stone Harbour

Stone Harbour were a duo from Ohio who typified the DIY ethos of rock’n’roll in 1974 with the original release of their now critically acclaimed album, ‘Emerges.

Aspiring songwriter and multi-instrumentalist writer, Ric Ballas owned a 4-track reel to reel recorder; singer songwriter Dave McCarty could also play a bit on drums. Additionally, he had ‘a pleasant voice’ and so between them, with all bases covered, they began to write collaborate in writing some music and recording.

Though their equipment was not exactly state of the art, they recorded a few songs to tape – more or less all in one take, with the occasional over-dub.

These recordings were taken to the Peppermint Productions studio in Youngstown, Ohio where they were mixed down to two-track. The aim was these tracks would form a demo that the lads could hawk around to impress and recruit others to join their band.

Most players didn’t have reel-to reel facilities, however, so Ric decided to have five hundred copies of the resultant tracks transferred onto vinyl – this was the minimum run amount.

With their very limited budget now blown, Ric sketched a few picture, had it reproduced five hundred times and then pasted them to cardboard jackets.

And that was about it. A full, live and touring band did come about. They played to mixed responses and after a couple of years, disbanded. (A follow-up album was partially recorded, but the studio was destroyed by fire, and the master tape with it.)

But as happens so often with these ‘lost’ LPs, somebody somewhere is impressed, word gets around, and original copies become sought after treasures. A copy of this sold on Discogs for over £1000 last year!

The music is varied in nature, ranging from folky psychedelia to rock-out proto grunge style. It’s pretty lo-fi in nature, but has a real innocent charm about it.

The album has been re-leased, most recently by Geurssen Records’ Out-Sider imprint. Definitely one to check out.

Stone Harbour

RELEASES BY STONE HARBOUR

TITLEFORMATLABEL RELEASE YEARNOTES
EmergesLPStone Harbour Records1974Original pressing of 500. Copies known to sell for up to £1000+

twink.

Twink – 1970 (Photo by Paul Welch.)

Twink (real name John Alder, though I believe he converted to Islam around sixteen years ago and is also known as Mohammed Abdullah) has played integral parts in two of my favourite bands, The Pretty Things and The Pink Fairies. I’ll get to them both at some point, I’m sure, but it’s as a solo artist he’s celebrated here.

John Alder, as he was simply known as at that time, started drumming for local Colchester R&B band Dane Stephens & The Deep Beats in 1963. On signing a deal with Decca, they changed their name to The Fairies and cut three singles, each of which are now well sought after.

Following the ban’d split, John joined The Santa Barbara Machine for a while, before drumming for the third line-up of The In Crowd who would soon morph into Tomorrow.

It was with Tomorrow, one of UK’s foremost psychedelic bands of the era, that John (having by now adopted the nom de stage of ‘Twink,’) began to make a name for himself. (This was the band that featured future Yes guitarist Steve Howe and Keith West – he of he legendary ‘Excerpt From a Teenage Opera‘ which reached #2 in the UK singles chart in August 1967.)

Sadly, for all their Swinging Sixties ‘cred,’ Tomorrow didn’t last out the psychedelic era and disbanded in April 1968. Twink the formed Aquarian Age a psychedelic band featuring Nicky Hopkins who would go on to play piano with so many bands, most notably perhaps The Rolling Stones.) They released just one single in the UK, ‘10,000 Words in a Cardboard Box,’ a reworking of which appeared on Twink‘s solo album ‘Think Pink‘ and is showcased below.

As seemed to be the pattern, Twink’s involvement with a band didn’t last very long and when Aquarian Age folded, he was on the move again.

By chance, and by being conveniently available at just the right time, he was asked to join The Pretty Things for a gig in Germany …. he remained with the band for about eighteen months!

During that spell with The Pretty Things, Twink was approached by Seymour Stein, the founder of Sire Records, with a view to recording a solo album. And so it was in 1970, using some experimental demos and an unpublished Aquarian Age track – ‘Tiptoe On The Highest Hill‘ – the wonderful ‘Think Pink‘ album was born, with the help of Mick Farren (The Deviants) and close pal, Steve Peregrine Took (ex- Tyrannosaurus Rex.)

In fact, those three were the early incarnation of The Pink Fairies, though after a disastrous start to their gigging career, Twink dispensed with his two friends’ services and hired the remaining Deviants players: Paul Rudolph (guitar); Russell Hunter (drums) and Duncan Sanderson (bass.)

And the rest, as they say, is history – I’m sure I’ll come back to The Pink Fairies somewhere down the line, here on Loud Horizon!

Although Twink released only one solo album, it’s an absolute belter! My copy of ‘Think Pink‘ is actually a Limited Edition repressing on the Akarma label and includes a second LP, ‘Sound of Silk: Demos & Rarities’ which is also on pink vinyl,

The two albums are an amazing mix of psychedelia, poetry and tales of fairies and Gandalf! The musical experimentation includes; tortured wailing; hypnotic drumming; scratchy guitar; chanting; conventional rock music and just about everything early Seventies, tripped out hippy culture could throw at it!

It truly is glorious – not a duff track in sight. Or sound.

Definitely a favourite in my collection.

RELEASES BY TWINK.

TITLEFORMATLABELRELEASE YEARNOTES
Think PinkLPPolydor1970Original copies of first pressing have sold for up to £600.

cothel

I’ve been writing about new music in blog and magazine form, for a long while now … from back in the days when Artrocker was a fortnightly paper magazine – remember them? Actually, Loud Horizon even predates that (@ 2004) so as you can imagine, a lot of good music has crossed my desk.

On occasion, though, some bands and artists stand out even above the ‘good’ music. It’s hard to define, but some just have that extra ‘something.’

This Liverpool based, psychedelic rock band may have only released two tracks to date, but I’ll stick my neck out right now and predict you’ll hear a lot more of Cothel.

With band members from California, Mexico, Korea, and Norway and a sound tech guy from England, there’s a lot of diverse influences being brought to bear in their music – and it seems to be working a treat.

Their second, and current release, ‘When You’re Insanely High‘ is an eclectic mix of rock riffs and funky beats, delivered with spiky, punk attitude. Think along the lines of a heavier version of Adequate 7 from the early noughties, and you’ve got it.

This track though highlights the versatility of Cothel, contrasting with the sneering vocal delivery and more grunge feel of their first release, ‘That Feeling You Get.’ I say ‘grunge’ but there’s more – there’s also a manic sixties, psychedelic sound to this. It’s like a swirling nightmare … in a good way of course.

The band have planned two more singles in the new year, before releasing their debut album around April.

There’s not much else I can say about a band so early in their development, but you read it here first – watch out for Cothel in 2022. I’m certain I won’t be the only one singing their praises.

Cothel are:

Aaron Stafford (USA): Guitar / Vocals
Emiliano Del Toro (Mexico): Lead Guitar
Lee Jaeyeuk (aka Jerry) (Korea): Bass
Gurkirat Singh (Norway): Drums
+
Rob King (England): Sound tech

grannie

Phil Newton & Jan Chandler

From the age of fifteen and while travelling to and from work in central London, guitarist Phil Newton was writing song lyrics. He played in his own little band at that time, rehearsing in his Mum’s front room

Fast froward four years to 1969, and Phil was by now an accomplished Blues player. After befriending Dave ‘H’ Holland, who played bass, the two would often be asked to jam with Powerpack, resident band at the Bridge House, Canning Town.

Phil Newton
Dave ‘H’ Holland

Buoyed by the complimentary remarks on his guitar skills, Phil decided to again form a band. Dave, naturally came on board as bass player, and having played with them in a previous band, Dave recruited the talents of Ray Curtis on drums and Fred Lilley on vocals. For his part, Phil persuaded Jan Chandler to join up on flute and Mellotron (one of the first to be used by a band, I believe.)

Nobody seems to recollect exactly how the band name came about other than Phil suggested it, and the rest went with it! For a while, they played mainly covers of blues standards in local, London East End pubs.

Phil and Dave soon became drawn more to the progressive sounds of King Crimson, Yes and Led Zeppelin and Phil again took to writing his own songs, reflecting this new sound. These were gradually worked into the live sets, and went down well with the punters.

It was now 1971, drummer Ray Curtis had moved on, replaced by John Clarke and Grannie had become an established band in the capital. The next step in their progression, then, was to get their songs down on vinyl. An advert spotted in Melody Maker to record an album for £100 offered the ideal opportunity. and so the five-piece, joined by John Stevenson, who would play organ on the album’s nine-minute long closer, ‘Coloured Armageddon,’ booked their session at SRT Studios in Herfordshire.

None of the band had previous studio experience, and with a mere eight hours available, the tracks were all recorded ‘live,’ with no over dubs or double tracking.

The result was six tracks of mainly guitar driven progressive rock, encompassing a melodic and ‘psychedelic’ feel at times but also with a nod to the heavier side of rock music.

For their £100 investment, the band were presented with ninety-nine copies of the album, the plan being to use them more or less as demos, and hawk them around various labels in search of a record deal. Some would also be sold at live shows.

No deal was forthcoming however, but the band played on! Vocalist Fred Lilley left to be replaced by Steve Betts, and Grannie’s reputation continued to grow. They supported the likes of Uriah Heep, Groundhogs, Gnidrolog and Arrrival, playing iconic venues like The Roundhouse and Marquee, eventually securing a residency at the famous Speakeasy Club in West London. There they’d often play in front of stars in their own right such as, David Bowie, Elton John and Pete Townsend.

Drummer John Clarke left around this time, his place being taken by Graham Guthrie, but things were going well for the band. Until …

Having loaded all their gear into a transit van following a rehearsal at the Club, they discovered the next morning it had all been stolen from where it had been parked up overnight outside the house of the Club manager. Everything was gone, including Jan’s expensive mellotron. Much of the equipment was still being paid up an so with no means of replacing it, the band folded.

Over the ensuing years, collectors of this type of music clamoued for one of the ninety-nine original copies in existence. I don’t see any having been sold via Discogs, however, Vernon Joynson’s ‘Tapestry of Delights’ tome describes them as ‘very few exist and are very sought after,’ indicating a fetching price of between £1000 and £2000!

Of course, the increase in awareness and popularity has resulted in several limited re-pressings over the years, with the latest of these worth around £30.

**(Sadly, Phil Newton died alone at age fifty-one in 2001, before fulfilling his dream of fame that he’d held for many years.) **

GRANNIE

Phil Newton – Lead Guitar / Vocals
Dave ‘H’ Holland – Bass / Vocals
Jan Chandler – Flute / Mellotron / Vocals
John Clarke – Drums
Fred Lilley – Lead Vocals
+
John Stevenson – Organ

TITLEFORMATYEARLABELNOTES
Grannie LP1971SRT Prouctions


tonstartssbandht

(Photo: Andy White)
‘What Has Happened,’ the lead single from the forthcoming album, ‘Petunia.’ The video for this was shot around the parks of the lads’ home city, Orlando, Florida.)

Formed in Orlando Florida back in 2008, brothers Andy and Edwin White, as Tonstartssdandht are set to release their eighteenth (!) album, ‘Petunia,’ on October 22nd 2021.

From Wikipedia:
Commenting on their prolific output, they have said, “Even a shitty recording can possibly be salvaged or used in a different way, but we generally just record record record. Just hit that button and don’t worry about it. Do it or never do it.” Andy has a long term interest in archiving and documenting the band’s live shows, which he began recorded with a 4-track. Recently he has been recording most of their tours, including dates across Europe, Russia, South East Asia, and Australia. When recording “studio” albums, they aim for a warm, room sound, using the close mic technique, and usually recording in their own apartments, with ambient sounds (including microwaves being turned on) apparent in instances

Renowned for playing shows in which their psych infused set goes a little ‘off piste’ and the songs become longer, languid jams, they view the album as the bare bones of future live sets.

Where most Tonstartssbandht albums come together slowly over years, recorded on the fly whenever the Whites have a few spare moments on the road, ‘Petunia’ was largely written and recorded in their home city of Orlando in 2020.

Many of the tracks had been played live, but in extremely rough form, and hadn’t yet developed into any kind of mature stage. With plenty of time on their hands thanks to the lockdown, and no shows to play, Andy and Edwin decided to pack some flesh onto those skeletons and bring them to life on their own.

Petunia’ is the first Tonstartssbandht album to be created in a sustained manner and in a consistent environment, written and recorded in a single place over a focused period of time. 

It was recorded at the brothers’ home studio in Orlando between April and August of 2020, but was mixed by Joseph Santarpia and Roberto Pagano at The Idiot Room in San Francisco. This was the first time in eighteen albums that ‘outsiders’ have been brought in at the mixing stage, the result this time being that ‘Petunia‘ is brighter, punchier, and more direct than its predecessor.

If the single, and indeed the following video from five years ago, is anything to go by, then we’re in for a treat.

(Songs on this video are taken from the ‘Christchurch’ album of 2016 and illustrate the band’s propensity to veer off into psychedelic style jams.)

TONSTARTSSBANDHT

Edwin White – Drums / Vocals
Andy White – Guitar / Vocals

***** Tonstartssbandht‘s discography is ‘complicated’ by different formats of some recordings being released by different labels.

***** Rather than produce a table here, perhaps it would be be simpler to check out the band’s releases here on Discogs.


quicksand

It was with bands like Quicksand in mind that convinced me to take LOUD HORIZON back down a retrospective path. Like so many bands, their music may not jump out the speakers and smack you in the face upon first listen. But boy, stick with it a couple of spins and you appreciate all the subtleties and intricacies.

Wait though – I may be giving the impression Quicksand were an out and out ‘prog’ band. Perhaps they were edging tn that direction, and I’ve seen them described as such in what little information I can glean, but they were so much more than that.

The eight tracks on this, their only album release, cover all bases. From melodic, hooky rock with some sprightly Hammond organ dancing in the background on the opening track, ‘Hideaway My Song,’ , the following track ‘Sunlight Brings Shadows‘ certainly ticks the ‘prog’ box, with time signature changes, organ / guitar face-offs and choral like harmonies.

‘Empty Street, Empty Heart,’ is more relaxed, again maximising the band’s catchy harmonies, before side one ends with ‘Overcome The Pattern’ transitioning into ‘Flying’ – together, they effortlessly combine ‘prog’ with a bit of a psychedelic feel.

The latter of these two actually sounds very familiar. Instinctively, I thought of fellow Welsh band, Man, who I saw live on several occasions back in the mid-Seventies. However, I can’t find any such track being recorded by the Swansea based outfit.

(There is , though, a connection between the two bands however, as Quicksand’s original bass player Will Youtt did eventually join Man.)

Though they’d probably best be described as a guitar driven band, side two of the album opens with two tracks that more prominently feature keyboards. Opener, ‘Time To Live‘ is drenched in vocal harmonies overlaying the bass and organ. Title track ‘Home Is Where I Belong,‘ features a light Hammond organ hook that reminds me of some Allman Brothers work. ‘Seasons / Alpha Omega‘ returns to the prog rock feel, this time with, dare I say it, Uriah Heep sounding driving bass, guitar and keyboards to the fore. Final track ‘Hiding It All,’ is more of a psych infused slow burner, but a lovely end to the album.

Formed in Neath, South Wales, in 1969, the band released only two singles: ‘Passing By’ / ‘Cobblestones‘ in 1970 – both tracks written by the then soon-to-depart, Michael Youatt – and then three years later, ‘Time To Live’ / ‘Empty Street, Empty Heart,’ both of which appear on the band’s only album release.

Quicksand made a point of recording and performing their own, original compositions and this they did throughout the length and breadth of the UK during their all to brief six years together.

In 1975 though, Robert Collins (keyboards) left the band. Brothers Jimmy and Phil Davies left for Alkatraz while drummer Anthony Stone joined up with Deke Leonard’s Iceberg – yes, another Man connection right there.

I have to admit, like many of the bands that will feature on these pages, I unfortunately did not get to see Quicksand play live. And though, over the years the album has been released in many territories, mainly on CD format , it was only recently, when given an unofficial, vinyl re-release, did I finally pick up on them.

Still – better late than never, eh?

Clockwise from top left:
Robert Collins
Phil Davies
Anthony Stone
Jimmy Davies

QUICKSAND:
Robert Collins – Keyboards
Phil Davies – Bass
Anthony Stone – Drums
Jimmy Davies – Guitar

RELEASES BY QUICKSAND

TITLEFORMATLABELRELEASE
YEAR
Passing By / Cobblestones7″ singleCarnaby1970
Time To Live /
Empty Street, Empty Heart
7″ singleDawn1973
Home Is Where I BelongLPDawn1973


spirits & worm

A&M record executive, Bob Garcia contributed to the sleeve notes of this album, the one and only from Long Island, New York band Spirits & Worm:

” … have caused others to define their music as a ‘fresh young sound- very colourful and full of rhythm – a happy sound!

“We believe in the near future that the music industry and public will take notice of this group, and recognize them as one of the more exciting and talented groups yet to hit the airwaves.”

Very few people were to read this proclamation however, when the album was released in 1970, for it was pulled from distribution almost immediately and it’s believed that only a handful of copies actually found their way into public domain, mainly in the New York area.

The legend and likely reason, is that releasing an album with two goats sitting on top of a grave was always going to court controversy. Imagery with satanic connotations would not go down well. And so it seems some label boss took cold feet and the album failed to be granted the release it merited.

It seems to me the decision maker didn’t actually listen to the album though. The ten, Carlos Hernandez penned tracks are about as far removed from the occult as can be. They are indeed, as Bob Garcia quoted, ‘a happy sound,’ influenced more by the lush West Coast sound popularized by likes of Jefferson Airplane, with vocalist Adrianne Maurici’s powerful vocals drawing comparison to those of Grace Slick.

It does seem a little strange that A&M didn’t just ask the band to change the album’s artwork, but whatever the underlying reasons, originals of this album exchange hands for great sums of money. In fact, one copy was sold through Discogs in 2020 for £730!

There have been a couple of subsequent Limited Edition reissues; in 1994, Sweet Herb Records ran 400 copies and the following year, Water Serpent Records released a further 375 hand-numbered copies.

More recently, the Audio Clarity label have made the re-issued album more freely available, and I’m happy to say I managed to bag one for myself!

Not only is it a piece of psych / psychedelic mastery, but it holds its own special place in musical history.

SPIRITS & WORM:
Adrianne Maurici – Vocals
Carlos Hernandez – Lead Guitar
Alfred Scotti – Rhythm Guitar / Vocals
Tommy Parris – Bass Guitar / Vocals
Artie Hicks Jr. – Drums

RELEASES BY SPIRITS & WORM

TITLE FORMATLABELRELEASE
YEAR
Spirits & WormLPA&M1970