Kendra Steiner Editions

June 13, 2014

MYSTIC MALES 2 (Pet Records, CD)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 9:58 am

MYSTIC MALES 2

various artists, circa 1965-73

Pet Records 010, CD

available from Dusty Groove and other mailorder outlets, also available as an LP

mystic

Good things are worth waiting for….so they say. This second volume of Mystic Males was mentioned as an upcoming project by Pet Records (best known for the sublime SOFT SOUNDS FOR GENTLE PEOPLE series of compilations) in late 2008, and finally, 5 1/2 years later, here it is….

For me, this is perhaps the most satisfying Pet Records release so far, which is really saying something. It’s a deep archival dig into a world of psychedelic troubadours who are aspiring to be the next Donovan or Tom Rapp or Sky Sunlight Saxon  (all solo artists on this comp, no bands here). The opening track “Four Robins Singing”  by Tyree Forrest throws down the gauntlet….a drone-y, sitar-laced epic with trippy poetic lyrics that’s totally uncommercial and should quickly separate the psych-heads from the posers. Those willing to walk through that door will get a stunning 13-track trip taking the basic west-coast singer-songwriter psych template and walking it past a series of funhouse mirrors that distort it in 13 different ways, that melt it and then re-form it in a uniquely warped fashion. Also, it should be pointed out that most of this is decidely NOT garage-y or crudely performed…many of the tracks probably use session musicians and some feature multi-part vocal harmonies. However, this was an age when artists went into the studio to calculatedly create an artifact that was somehow damaged-sounding. And like the best psychedelic music, this material creates an altered state of consciousness in those who do not get high but seek an elevation of spirit….as well as sounding authentic to the trippers among us. The lyrics are amazing throughout….almost as if someone found Bonniwell Music Machine-era Sean Bonniwell’s poetry notebook on the seat of the bus, bought a bottle of codine cough syrup and a quart of Coca-Cola and checked into a cheap motel with a Donovan album and pushed himself to write two sides for a single to be recorded that same night. If Pearls Before Swine and Inner Views-era Sonny Bono had 13 babies, these would be them.

MYSTIC MALES 2 gets very high marks in terms of obscure-ness of the material presented. The best-known artist is perhaps Jeff Monn, former Third Bardo vocalist who did a solo album on Vanguard that was at one-time a staple in cut-out racks and used record stores (a track from that appeared on the UK compilation WEDNESDAY MORNING DEW–REALISTIC PATTERNS 2: ORCHESTRATED PSYCH FROM THE USA). Arthur Gee, who recorded two interesting albums for Colorado-based Tumbleweed Records, is here too, but with an obscure early 45 I’ve never heard of.  And Darius, who recorded a stunning solo album for Chartmaker in 1968, is here with an unknown early single that adds a lot to his legacy. One track by Dick St. John, “Lady of the Burning Green Jade,”  was written by Hoyt Axton, documenting his furthest-out phase. Axton was a great talent (both in music and in acting) and I hope that someday while I’m still around to enjoy it, someone gets access to his songwriting demos from the late 60s/early 70s and releases some of them…..I’m betting we’d all be blown away. If you enjoyed his album “My Griffin Is Gone,” you’ll love this track. Surely, every track on this album has a fascinating back-story, and the release of MYSTIC MALES 2 will (I hope) bring to the surface some of those stories, as well as further material from some of these artists.

If your idea of ecstasy is hearing meandering, decaying guitar lines snaking around and under the implied melody (and staying behind the beat, always) of some slow and smoldering west-coast small-label production fronted by someone who may have aspired to be Johnny Rivers three years previously but now was aspiring to be Donovan or Tom Rapp….and whose lyrics are full of kitchen-sink surrealism and Sunset Strip mysticism, then your ship has come in with MYSTIC MALES 2. You can proudly put this album on the shelf next to your mono copy of Sonny Bono’s INNER VIEWS.

When I was in central Louisiana on vacation recently, I would spend each morning writing for a few hours, and each day I would have MYSTIC MALES 2 on repeat on my mini-boombox while drinking Pu-erh tea as I wrote…..it was the perfect music to take me to some alternate plane, pull myself out of the gear of everyday life and get my brain spinning freely while still keeping my feet on the ground, probably the 5 a.m. beer-stained sidewalks of 1968 Sunset Strip. The album never got old, and in fact got richer and deeper with each play, the sign of a carefully thought out and carefully programmed compilation. Congrats to Pet Records on what will probably wind up being one of the finest reissues of obscure psychedelia released in 2014. And special congrats to the thoughtful and transcendent psychedelic troubadours who managed to get their unique vision onto vinyl during this Golden Age. They may not have had “hits” with their work, but they have sent those of us who care unique messages in a bottle from a rich island of creativity that, 45+ years after the fact, can still provide a liberating dose of otherness to the folks on the Mainland.

 

………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

1. Tyree Forrest-­Four Robins  Singing

2. Darius-How Much Do I Love You

3. Jeff Dunn-I’m a Deeper Blue

4. Gerry Pond-­Sometime Girl

5. Shalynn-­Flower Song

6. Ed Powers-­London Bound

7. Dick St. John-Lady of the Burning Green Jade

8. Paul Stoop-­Daydream

9. Richard Coronado-­Before She Goes

10. Stephen Hartley-­The Other Side

11. Malcolm Mitchell-­Feather

12. Art Gee-Tea Gardens

13. Jeff Monn-­My Good Woman

———————————————————————————————–

“CITY COWBOY” by the ARTHUR GEE-WHIZZ BAND on Tumbleweed Records

GEE

……………………………

the DARIUS solo album on Chartmaker

DARIUS

 

………………………………….

 

innerviews

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1 Comment »

  1. On the strength of your review, I ordered mystic males 2 (on vinyl). Being a devotee of the soft sounds series it had been a long time between drinks. And as you so eloquently wrote, this is the stuff of legendary status, well worth the wait.
    The thing about the series, each album stands up to regular revisits and each time they reveal new delights. Only recently I played Sounds of She, an album I had somewhat dismissed, only to become entranced with so many of the songs. Now I’m hoping that there is a sounds of she 2 in the pipeline. I’ll be forking out the bucks for that, or any of the Pet peoples releases. Fingers crossed.
    Anyway, it was great to read such a well worded review from someone who clearly understands what is, let’s face it, a pretty obscure genre! And you turned me on to the Hoyt Axton ‘Griffen is Gone’ album inadvertently as well…
    Many thanks
    Rex

    Comment by Rex — February 5, 2015 @ 8:16 pm | Reply


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