Sunshine pop's dark side
What at first appears to be just another collection of generic late 60s soft psych, the Mystic Males (Pet Records) disc is actually a well-chosen selection of trippy artifacts from the dark side of the sunshine pop dreamworld focusing on lesser-known artists and rarely compiled tracks. There's a charming wistfulness to the moody, flute-enhanced numbers from long-lost troubadours like Bill & Howdy (Misty Morning Confrontation), Michael Blodgett (Fire Engine Sky), Harumi (Hunters Of Heaven) and some dude known as Sunshine (A Sad Thought This Is) that couldn't have come from any other era. Chip Taylor 's You Should Be From Monterey sounds like a blueprint for the Jesus and Mary Chain sound some 20 years before they discovered Doctor Mix & the Remix. Informative notes and surprisingly decent sound for vinyl dubs.
As a happy consequence of Gilles Peterson's Impressed series of Brit jazz compilations, Universal UK has boldly decided to follow its Japanese counterparts and reissue some of the full albums by featured artists like Mike Westbrook , Neil Ardley , Mike Taylor and vibes-banging saxophone marvel Tubby Hayes . Believe it or not, Universal Canada has recently imported a few titles in the UK's Impressed Re-pressed series for domestic distribution, starting with Hayes's big-band set 100% Proof and his all-time classic Mexican Green, which captures the aggressive tenor man at his hard-honking peak, pushed by a gang of hungry young cats. Grab 'em now.
Ever wonder what was being recorded in the Shan state music studios of northeast Burma's Golden Triangle region during the early 70s? Well, neither have I, but since DIY ethnomusicologist Alan Bishop took the time to assemble the Guitars Of The Golden Triangle (Sublime Frequencies) disc from his nth-generation cassettes, why not check it out, right? Damn, there was some crazy psych-damaged Myanmar blues-battering and Pa'o pop frivolity being cut by guitar-backed scene stars like Saing Saing Maw , Kuhn Kan Chwain and Nan Phin Sar . Although my favourite has to be Lashio Thein Aung , aka the Burmese Texan, for his, er, "cowboy" style. But trust me, Lashio's numbers, like Mistake Of A Small Bird and A Girl Among Girls, aren't like any kind of country music you've ever heard. Horrible fidelity, crankin' tunes.
When it comes to wild 60s Euro-beat and garage pounding, Switzerland's Basel badasses, the Sevens , come close to the exalted level of Amsterdam's Nederbeat kings, the Outsiders, for both originality and rousingly good bashing. So it was a delight to discover that Feathered Apple Records is distributing the band's own CD reissue of their fab self-titled debut album (Get Hip is handling it in North America), which comes with six essential singles tracks - including their snazzy Seven theme song - and three unreleased corkers from 1965. It sounds way better than the previous Italian reissue, and even if you can't understand the German liner notes, the photos of the Swiss moptops and screaming fans tell the story.