In lieu of a boring post about my daily life, I’ve decided to share a specially curated mixtape today. As I keep saying day after day, times are weird. Hopefully, I can help even one of you disconnect from reality for an hour. God knows putting this together has helped me disconnect enough to temporarily lower my heart rate. The past two days have been slightly more stressful than normal because…I don’t know. It seems silly, but every time I have to leave to run an errand or something I feel like a new timer has been set. So from that day forward I have to think 5 days out, ten days out, two-weeks out to project when I can forget that I was outside putting myself at risk. This probably seems absurd to many of you, but as I said on Day 6, logic has been thrown out the window. That’s part of dealing with — or should I say working through — anxiety.
If you’ve followed this blog for any period of time, you might have heard me mention The Acid Archives before. For a long time, it has been a bible for those of us who appreciate — and collect — underground recordings. It’s how I first discovered gems like the Todd record, the Heitkotter record, and so many others. Either the Lysergia website (or the first edition of the book, I can’t quite remember) used to have an awesome feature that is not present in the Second Edition. It was a list of records that had similar vibes to some of those shockingly rare (and uber-expensive!) entries in the book, but wouldn’t cost the novice collector and arm and a leg to obtain. To this day I remember the joy I felt when I found the Susan Pillsbury record for $15 because it was on that list. It was a special addendum to an incredible resource for collectors with actual (gasp!) budgets.
The goal of this mixtape is not to break new ground. I’m not pretending I’m the first person to discover these artists or albums. In fact, a lot of these may already be known to you. They were all released by major record labels in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. I imagine if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably well versed in music history. So if you come away from listening to this enjoying even one song you haven’t heard before, I’ll consider that to have been worth my time. And if any of you are totally unfamiliar with these albums, the good news is you can find most of them pretty cheap! Now that I spent ample time describing what this mixtape isn’t, I will say that the goal of this mixtape is to do for you what The Acid Archives did for me: Introduce you to albums you might not be familiar with, that won’t break the bank in order for you to add them to your record collection.
Enjoy! I apologize for any issues with these files, I don’t have my usual recording equipment set up at home right now, my USB to USB-C cables have gone missing, and so these transfers are rudimentary at best. These aren’t audiophile rips or anything. They’re here to give you jumping-off points for tracking these albums down.
As always, of course, continue to stay healthy and stay safe.
The Flaccid Archives (vol. 1)
01. Karen Beth – “In The Morning” – Let’s start things off with a bang! Released in 1969 by Decca in the US, The Joys Of Life peaked on the Billboard Top 200 at #171 that year. If you’re a fan of Karen Dalton but cannot afford original copies of her albums, this is a much more affordable option that seriously deserves to be compared alongside that other Karen in the pantheon of canonic ’60s/’70s folk records. The best thing about this album is that it opens with its absolute worst track, and is consistently incredible from “In The Morning” straight through to the end of side two. Look for the title track on YouTube (link here!) for a seriously damaged acid-tinged masterpiece. Even more stunning: not a single copy of this album sold on Discogs has ever fetched more than $20.
02. B.J. Cole – “The Regal Procession” – The New Hovering Dog was released by United Artists in the UK in 1972. It’s slightly harder to find than some of the other entries on this list. You’ll probably have to spend about $35-$50 for a copy depending on how much of a snob you are regarding condition. Nevertheless, this album is totally worth the price of admission. A pedal steel master, Cole’s studio credits include appearances alongside extremely heavy hitters like Elton John, Elvis Costello, John Cale, Bjork, and even my beloved Spiritualized (on Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space). His band here is comprised of luminaries like Michael Giles, Danny Thompson, Robert Kirby, and others. It’s a remarkable blend of art-rock, folk, prog, and psych that still sounds decades ahead of its time.
03. Sonny – “I Told My Girl To Go Away” – Yes, I included a song from Sonny Bono’s only solo album. It was released in 1967 by ATCO following the success of Sonny and Cher. Unfortunately, the album tanked. It didn’t even chart in Billboard, though it has the rare distinction of having a full-page ad in the first issue of Rolling Stone magazine. Bono isn’t quite a laughing stock, but reading reviews of Inner Views lends the impression that his legacy hasn’t exactly been helped by this recording. Nevertheless, I find it enjoyable, and it’s ridiculously easy to find and very inexpensive. Not every entry in the Acid Archives is a masterpiece — some albums are included simply because they are atrocious. At times musical ineptitude can be charming, just as a songwriter’s naivete can be interpreted as endearing. Inner Views is often described as hacky, poseur-ish, and insincere. I kind of like it for all those reasons. It is what it is, and I dig that.
04. Cherokee – “Strange Ways” – The Robbs were three brothers from Wisconsin who issued a self-titled album for Mercury in 1967 that collected their various A-sides and B-sides. Then they relocated to California and (of course) their sound shifted more towards country-rock. Their self-titled album came out courtesy of ABC Records. After this record and another single, the members disbanded but formed the infamous Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles. It’s like the Byrds or the Burritos but with more balls, which makes some sense because Chris Hillman appears on bass and mandolin. The record was produced by Steve Barri, whose credits include countless ’60s mainstays like the Fantastic Baggies, PF Sloan, The Grass Roots, and even another artist who appears on this list — Terry Black! “Strange Ways” has a fuzzy sound that, if the entire album were to include, probably would have found itself mentioned in the Acid Archives. Alas, it doesn’t, and now you can easily find yourself a copy for like $30 or less.
05. Jeremy Storch – “Dream City” – The album From A Naked Window was originally recommended to me years ago by Andy Zax, I think. The recommendation itself isn’t so clear, but the joy I felt upon finding a pristine copy at the WFMU Record Fair for five or ten bucks certainly is. How this 1970 release by RCA Victor managed to evade the Acid Archives is beyond me. It’s positively Todd-ian at times! Storch began his career as a member of The Vagrants in the sixties before going solo. Full of elaborate melodies and Storch’s trademark nasally vocal delivery, this album is a gem from start to finish. And, even if you think you haven’t heard Storch before, odds are you might have heard the DJ Shadow tune “Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt” features a sped-up sample of the piano melody from Storch’s “I Feel A New Shadow”. Other albums sampled by Shadow (like, say, Colonel Bagshot’s Six Day War) will likely set you back about a hundred bucks, Jeremy Storch will likely only set you back ten.
06. Lamb – “Sleepwalkers” – Released by Warner Brothers in 1971, Cross Between was basically the brainchild of Barbara Mauritz, who has writing credits on every song as well as producer/arranger credit along with her partner Bob Swanson. Mauritz even recorded another album in ’71 that is credited to her by name with Lamb as her backing band. That album, Bring Out The Sun is also quite good, but this one is better. The blend of jazz, folk-psych, classical and avant-garde elements are quite unique, and Mauritz’s vocals shine throughout the album. Amazingly, this album can currently be purchased for as little as four dollars and change. Since 2017, not a single copy sold through Discogs has cost a buyer more than $20. A full-on, start-to-finish psych/folk jewel on a major label is an oddity in an of itself. At any price, Cross Between a steal.
07. Gary Ogan & Bill Lamb – “Kac” – From one Lamb to another…Portland, recorded by this duo in 1972 for Elektra, is stupefyingly unheralded for how great it is. It feels like a record every hipster in Los Angeles would namecheck while talking about the Laurel Canyon scene, or Brewer & Shipley. A lot of them have probably heard of Ogan & Lamb before, without knowing it. In 1986 This Mortal Coil recorded a cover of “I Wanna Live” (and changed the name slightly to “I Want To Live”) for their album Filigree & Shadow (YouTube link). How Portland has escaped so many collectors and enthusiasts is beyond me. Their loss is our gain. Copies of Portland can be found for as cheap as $6 on Discogs right now.
08. Michael Konstan – “Great Train” – Not much is known about Konstan, which might be why his solo album from 1973 remains largely a mystery. Released by RCA, copies can be found for as little as three dollars on Discogs. The songs were arranged by John Abbott (Chiffons, Left Banke, The Blades Of Grass), and Konstan’s voice combines to make a magical pairing. The only thing I can really find about Konstan’s career before this album was a writing credit on a Quadrangle single released on Philips in 1966. Nothing exists after this eponymous album. The Acid Archives loves a good appearing/disappearing trick, and as Konstan seems to have dropped off the face of the earth his story would seemingly fit right in with the rest of the misfits whose lives are a mystery investigated by that book. Vanished without a trace, all we have to remember Konstan is this record.
09. Mary Catherine Lunsford – “I’m Awaitin'” – This sort-of-eponymous album by Cathy Lunsford was released by Polydor in 1971. Like a few other artists on this list, very little is known about Ms. Lunsford, but those who know her agree that this record is a masterpiece. Reviews of this album are quick to compare her to Joni Mitchell. I can hear that a little in the vocal flourishes, I think, but the arrangements and baroque style are wholly her own. I’ll be honest, I don’t own a single Joni Mitchell album, and whenever I’d hear her at work I used to cringe. So if I thought this album sounded anything like Blue or Court And Spark or whatever I’d dismiss it immediately. The Acid Archives spends a considerable amount of space mining gold from the female singer-songwriter realm, which makes the book’s oversight here all the more confounding. Best of all, you can grab yourself a copy for as little as $3.99 on Discogs today.
10. Click Horning – “See That My Children Got Warm Clothes” – This is probably the most expensive — and hardest to obtain — record included on this mixtape. That said, it probably won’t break the bank for many collectors. I don’t think much of paying $50 for a record these days, even if that seemed unfathomable fifteen or twenty years ago. Copies of Click can be found for about $30 if you don’t care too much about the condition of the record, or $75 if you’re a stickler like I am. In a world where labels and collectors are rushing to “discover” unknown acid-folk masterpieces, this one has not yet been reissued. Released on ABC Records in 1969, this eccentric, mysterious album reminds me of the most warped songs from Donovan’s catalog blended with touches of Nick Drake. That’s pretty lofty praise, but I think it’s warranted here. It also kind of reminds me of another major label release that was included in The Acid Archives, Erik’s Look Where I Am on Vanguard. Major label releases from the late ’60s and early ’70s don’t get much more esoteric than Click Horning’s, which makes his absence from the underground rock bible the more unusual.
11. Terence – “Fool Amid The Traffic” – How a book like The Acid Archives could ignore some of this fuzz guitar is shocking, but there are more than enough Canadian bluesy, psychedelic experimentations in that book to make up for it. Terence Black had a solid career as a songwriter in Canada before releasing this album in 1969. He had a handful of Top-Ten hits in his home country as a teenager. An Eye For An Ear is a somewhat inconsistent album, but there are enough unique sounds and warped tunes to make it totally worth your while. And since it was released by Decca in the states it’s relatively easy to track down. There are currently 47 copies for sale on Discogs starting at $5. It’d be a welcome addition to any collection.
12. Laurie Styvers – “Beat The Reaper” – Another artist signed to Warner Brothers, Spilt Milk (not to be confused with the Jellyfish album!) was first issued in 1971. Before going solo, she sang in a prog group called Justine (YouTube Link!), who’s self-titled album on UNI sells for about $200. This, obviously, makes Spilt Milk a bargain by comparison. Robert Christgau hated this album, stating “Styvers is the kind of person who makes me like junkies–you know, the baby you want to steal candy from, so trite and pretty-poo in her fashionably troubled adolescence that you hope she chokes on her own money.” That above anything else means you should definitely give it a chance.
13. Alastair Riddell – “Zero” – The most recent release on this compilation was issued in New Zealand by WEA in 1982. An original copy might set you back $50 for a decent copy, but there are three different issues from 1982/1983 and they aren’t too hard to track down if you use Discogs or eBay as an avenue for record buying. Personally, I think Riddell’s self-titled album and the album released under his nom de plume Space Waltz are superior to this album…but “Zero” is an undeniably catchy song that I really wanted to include here. It would be the perfect pairing for an ’80s movie montage, perhaps wherein two horny teens are fumbling around in the back of a car. Do yourself a favor and verse yourself in all of Riddell’s oeuvre. If requested, I’ve got rips of all his albums I can post for you.
14. Graeme Allwright – “The Pen” / “On The Words That Tungle In A Jumble” – Originally released in France by Mercury, the ‘A’ side of this album is broken down into two parts. It spans about 17-and-a-half minutes and exemplifies an era of experimentation that was sweeping through France (and Europe) at the time of its release. Allwright’s first three albums were folky, including sung-in-French covers of Leonard Cohen and others. This heavily-improvisational album features two acoustic guitars and tabla, with vocals sung in English. Maybe there’s a piano or two here and there, but by and large, it’s a poetic, psychedelic masterpiece. And best of all, it shouldn’t set you back more than $15-$40 for a clean, playable copy.