Wednesday, February 29, 2012


OK, So with these two I may make my taste questionable to some who already think my opinions are "different" or "weird," but I don't care about what other people may think of music, or think looks good on them in a fashion parade, or all sorts.
   Paris Pilot is one of the strangest records in my collection. I've actually had 3 copies over the years or 4 copies max and my new acquisition of one is the only clean one I've ever had and had to come from record dealer superstar Jerome Tomko. I'm afraid I know nothing about Paris Pilot and despite a really cool cover photo of the band in Victorian Era vaudeville show dress I can't even tell you who they were as the album doesn't credit any performers on it. A studio concoction? More than one band on this schizo LP? Who knows.... My guess is this was the work of a band not from the South where it was recorded, but probably from the East Coast area where they would have been a popular Club act. You get my first take on it then- a nightclub psych record with a wide variety of angles, but repeated listenings grow more enjoyable each time. Even the filler on this record is so bizarre that in some strange kind of magical way it all works.
   Things begin with something hard for anyone to tackle when it comes to the listener, but I love their long slowed down take on Sonny Bono's "The Beat Goes On" coz it's so damned strange. The song is full of heavy swirling fuzz guitars, plodding organ, amateurish drumming, and a garage level attempt at a "Soul Rock" vocal on top of the whole thing. The singer sounds like they waited a bit too long to nudge him from his nap or else that he's so stoned that he's just leaning half drunkenly into the monitor in a low rent imitation of Jim Morrison. That's only on the first listening. You think he's not got that good a voice and that this is really basement/garage stuff with some neat production tricks thrown in. Wrong. I made that error the first few plays. Playing this a few more times it almost starts sounding progressive in a weird way, half-sophisticated even, but with that nightclub psych band gone into a once-in-a-lifetime studio chance thing in the background.
    Things get much more interesting when the band go into songs like "Winter's Child" which is a beautiful ballad full of really attractive harmonies and an excellent right there perfect lead vocal. No amateurs are these guys when the material is more interesting and even that "The Beat Goes On" was kind of charming. "Winter's Child" again has the soul influences,  but this time more Gospel Mod if such a thing can exist! There's a bit of an Anglophile vibe which really carries over into the album's standout track "Shades Of Doubt." No one who loves psych especially British psych would hear this and not flip over how good it is. It sounds like The Apple! It even has a bit of July or Koobas about it! Wow! The sinister Jon Lord like organ and heavy fuzz drenched guitars form a big wall of sound which the melodic confident harmonies slice right through. Brilliant stuff and as you can see if you got past that first track's oddness then you're in for some fine material here.
  What could I say about "Temptation's Bout To Get Me?" Baffling. I don't know if anyone ever had a hit with this fake soul song, but there sure are a few covers out there and this one is the strangest yet. The harmonies don't make much sense. It sounds like they are recorded wrong or just like they are drunk. It isn't tight anymore the way it was on the previous two songs. Musically it has a nice sympathetically soulful groove to it and the crispness of the playing is what saves it. The lead voice will be impossible for some to get past and makes "The Beat Goes On" sound lively. He really sounds like he's struggling, comatose on this one and then lurches into a sort of mock soul shout at the end of every chorus. Weird, even kind of intriguing.
     By the time of "Long Way To Go" which closes Side One you think that something, some kind of polarization, is going on here. This song is again back to the brilliance of "Shades Of Doubt" and "Winter's Child" and has all the Paris Pilot trademarks: great harmonies, soft yet confident lead voice, expert playing, and some beautiful melodies. They must have been pissed about those two covers. It sounds like two completely different bands when they are doing original material written by producer Don Nix and when they do two interesting,  but not all-the-way-there covers.
  Side Two is only 4 songs clocking it at around 15 minutes! What the Hell!? Shorter than 25th Regiment's Ecology classic Side Two it might be. There is no filler here. Even a song written by Danny Hutton (of Three Dog Night fame and infamous heroin junkie I believe) called "Roses And Rainbows" is great. "Overton Park Flip" is a Hendrix tribute psych/R&B raveup complete with Jimi alike vocals and flamboyant guitar/organ passages. "Miss Rita Famous" could have been a hit, but it ain't AM radio fodder as it is too good to just be seen as another pop track. It has much in common with the high standard of the original material on Side One. The dreamy harmonies turn psychedelic at the end with shades of The Gods and Asgard even! The songs that close out the album "Roses And Rainbows" which is fine pop psych and the Gospel/soul lilting "Don't Let It" are fine examples of transitional 60s into 70s melodic Anglophile music. A very nice album and in fact a very special album. There's something special about Paris Pilot beyond just a great cover and some nice songs. It's a grower, and a good one at that. Don't pass this one by if you see it in clean condition- it costs a bit, but definitely a keeper for my collection. So it must be good, then.
    There were so many scam records released in Germany just in the span of 1970-1972 that a whole book could be written about them sans the disgusting offensive term "Krautrock" (for whoever instigated this nonsensical wording how about "Yank Bonehead"). Yes, we had Corporal Gander's Fire Dog Brigade who were really Wind, Electric Food and a million offshoots who were really Lucifer's Friend, and about a million others. Funny thing is, all of these records are really good when you hear them! The first Electric Food is a classic and is really flipped out- way more so than substandard bands championed as classics like Can, Faust, Guru Guru, Mythos (who flat out suck), and Ash Ra Temple.
   I like the Germans when they rock and rock hard. Beat Club International I was only made aware of by Ashley Johnson who is now in poor health and needs our prayers. Ashley's prices are hugely astronomical, but Ashley bought back in the days when things were way more money for weird import records from the earlier era of the 70s. His description got me hooked and having played this album dozens of times- thanks Ashley!
      Electric Food considered, Wind considered, this may be the best German heavy exploito album ever made. The guitars rip and roar with a thundering attack while the organ bashes, grooves, swings, and rocks out with furious drums and bass. To boot it's all mixed together with killer pop hooks and violent lyrics. The lyrics are completely bizarre and in the case of two songs they take folk song titles and obliterate them. "Wayfaring Stranger" has the title mispronounced as "Pooor Pooor Pooor Way Farring Ztranger OH Yeah!" while "Matty Groves" deliberately trashes the classic folk murder ballad turning it into comedy. "Aunt Rhody" which opens the album is one of the heaviest German psych tracks ever. It really hammers you and the sinister multitracked high and low voices are pretty freaked out. Side One alone stands as a perfect example of what made Northern Europe so interesting for music during the post beat boom era right through the 70s. Nobody cared about anything except making music. Germany, Finland, Switzerland, Holland, Sweden, Denmark- they all just wanted to play good music and create something that wasn't artificial sounding. There's huge differences between countries with Germany and Holland taking the cake for heavy stuff while the Finnish seemed to like their heavy rock with a few more laid back touches (see superb Elonkorjuu). There isn't anything too quiet here and the whole tone of Beat Club International is not beat one bit- it's heavy German psych at its absolute best. Catchy melodies and fantastic different singers are to be found throughout. This is credited to "Das Louis Shampton Trio" and the whole concept of this as a trio is even more absurd than as a Beat Club! Songs have variations. There's one quiet dreamy Procol Harum like ballad "King In Heaven" while songs like "Drill Your Dog," "Railroad," and "Mr. Whyler" are more prominent here- heavy psych with bizarre vocals and lyrics. I know this stuff isn't for everybody, but I love it!
    We'll never know who was behind Beat Club International, but my guess is those friends of Lucifer had something to do with it. What makes this album so impressive is not just the excellent musicianship, great production job, and very strong vocals, but the huge amount of fun I have listening to it. This may be dark and grim stuff lyrically, but the whole thing is done to have a rock and roll fun filled time and you get that with this. I would rate this album higher than a band as great as Gift even. They took themselves and their music a little too seriously and had no variations. There's variation here even though most of it is wild frenetic heavy psych rock. I'd strongly recommend you find this ultra rarity before the big discovery is made which DOES MAKE IT A $600 RECORD! A great time will be had when you hear it. love till next time

No comments:

Post a Comment