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
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