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Hell Preachers Inc. - Supreme Psychedelic Underground (1969) & Ugly Custard -Psicosis (1971) review

Hell Preachers Inc. "Supreme Psychedelic Underground"/Ugly Custard "Psicosis" (Gear Fab Records 2013)

Long ago and far away, in a world that existed before digital domination, fly by night imprints tapped producers and studio musicians to spit out albums mirroring the popular sounds of the day. The sole goal was, to of course make money, not an artistic statement. But a fair number of these exploitation efforts were astonishingly good, particularly those born during the psychedelic era. The crafty faces behind such ventures naturally remained nameless, as no credits ever appeared on the record sleeves. But the so-called bands were christened, sporting handles that were downright silly or strange. The Colorado based Gear Fab label has been doing a fantastic job resurrecting these “cashing in on the hippest fad” albums, and its latest treasure couples two extremely rare relics onto one disc.

Originally released in 1968, “Supreme Psychedelic Underground” by Hell Preachers Inc. is so freaky and off the wall that it leads the listener to wonder what dimension these performers were operating in. Slathered in a spellbinding sauce of swirling keyboards, snake-charming Middle Eastern motifs and gothic vocals, “Shalom” kicks in as a platinum-plated raga rock piece, the pummeling bite of “Curante” is tempered by a giddy bubblegum chorus of la la la la la la,  and “We Like The White Man,” with its hypnotic tribal drumming and repetitious chant of “We Like The White Man” could easily pass as an early rap song. Dancing organ passages, accompanied by blasts of monster guitar dynamics wire “Time Race” and “Turn Turn” thumps and pumps to an acid-damaged Bo Diddley beat. Rumor has it that Ritchie Blackmore, Jon Lord and Ian Paice of Deep Purple donated their talents to “Supreme Psychedelic Underground,” which is not surprising, considering the influence of the hotshot British band looms large. Traces of Iron Butterfly, Pink Floyd and Steppenwolf can also be detected, but employed in a far weirder and wackier context if you can imagine that.

From 1971, there’s Ugly Custard’s “Pscosis,” which includes only instrumentals.  Spurred by soft acoustic strumming, a cover of “Scarboro Fair” suddenly shifts focus and morphs into a loud and heavy hunk of crazed jamming, while renditions of “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” and “Hung Upside Down” further pronounce the band’s penchant for excessive improvising. Big and bold jazz rhythms flood the swinging “Custard’s Last Stand,” “Feel This” romps and rolls to a funky groove, and “Cry From The Heart” pings and tings to an enterprising exhibition of coiling melodies and lightly battered wah wah doodlings. Lifting a cue from the daring dabblings of Yes and Deep Purple, but presented in a rather kitschy fashion, the Ugly Custard clearly aped the flashy progressive rock of the times.  Complex structures, matched by flamboyant six-string work and soulful keyboard exercises indeed furnish the band’s material with a spacey bent.

Flush with fascinating ideas, both “Supreme Psychedelic Underground” and “Pscosis” stamp a premium on exaggerated impressions and expressions. Some of the stuff is absolutely nightmarish and cheesy, not to mention self-indulgent and bombastic, but admittedly fun and highly inventive as well. Crank the volume to maximum effects and dig it!

Review made by Beverly Paterson / 2013
© Copyright / 2013


spacefreak said...

Hell Preachers Inc. have nothing to do with Deep Purple. They are the german band Bokaj Retsiem in disguise. In other words they iclude all original Lucifer's Friend members, except John Lawton and probably Peter Hesslein.

Klemen Breznikar said...

We will do a longer article about them and will try to find the real members of the band, cos one of our readers just confirmed he knew them personaly.

This was a studio project made up by members of Hamburg's legends THE RATTLES and THE GERMAN BONDS (they re-united this year and played some concerts here) who evolved into LUCIFERS FRIEND later.

Lee Curtis said...

Here is part of the sleeve notes for the cd.

This album has acquired a certain notoriety since its appearance in 1968, on account of a stubborn rumor that it's the work of three members of the young Deep Purple.

The sound is indeed similar to that on their contemporaneous Shades Of Deep Purple album. But it's highly unlikely that they were involved here.
Europa was a budget label based in Germany, and specialized in cash-in releases.
So it's probably the work of continental session players.

Hope this helps

Danny Wilde said...

Ugly Custard was a project by a bunch of some of the best known session men in the UK: Herbie Flowers, Clem Cattine, Alan Parker and Roger Coulem. OK I never heard of Coulem either, but this bunch was collectively Blue Mink without their singer.

spacefreak said...

Bokaj Retsiem were post-German Bonds and pre-Lucifer's Friend.

El Guajolote said...

Oh yeah, spacefreak is right, the pobrable line-up of Hell Preachers Inc. was:

Peter Hect (organ)
Dieter Horns (bass)
Joachim Rietenbach (drums)
George Monro [a.k.a. "Mavros"] (vocals)
Rainer Degner (guitar)

David said...

Bought the original vinyl album on an exchange visit to West Germany in 1969, subsequently lost.....

the great gavonne said...

Probably linked to Deep Purple because the first song on the album, "Time Race" is a rip-off of Purple's "Wring That Neck" (also known as "Hard Road")