Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Search Party-Montgomery Chapel (1969-Psychedelia)

There were many psychedelic albums like this issued in small press runs in the late '60s: folky, bittersweet melodies that tilted toward the downright sad and melancholy; high strident female vocals sharing duties with less memorable, more normal-sounding male singing; a studied over-seriousness to the vocal delivery; a naïve, questing for the meaning of life tone to the compositions; and organ residing in a halfway house between the LSD trip and the mortuary. Even if you take it as a given that most of these albums have a dated pretentiousness that many would poke fun at, however, this is certainly one of the better such efforts in this mini-genre, and possessed of some real musical appeal in spite of its considerable flaws. Most of the arrangements have an understated, effective (if somewhat creepy) eeriness. Songs like "Speak to Me," "Renee Child," "Poem By George Hall," and "The Decidedly Short Epic of Mr. Alvira" are good time-capsule mood pieces in their evocative otherworldliness, at times sounding a little like a psychedelic seance. Although the brief liner notes do intimate that the musicians were "trying to produce relevant, religious music," any religious overtones are pretty subtle. As often happened with bands whose strengths lay in these approaches, they tend to lose much of their charm when they try to rock out, piling on too many gimmicky, clichéd fuzz guitar riffs. And even one of the gentler numbers, "All But This," is too uncomfortably close to Jefferson Airplane's "Comin' Back to Me" to merit praise. It's a worthwhile obscurity if you go for this sort of thing in a big way, though, and has more concision than most projects of the sort, with just one of the cuts (the nine-minute "So Many Things Have Got Me Down") lasting more than five minutes, by Richie Unterberger, allmusic guide.



Blogger cinematographer said...

i'm really starting to hate richie unterberger's stupid, sanctimonious reviews. he talks up a pretty mediocre album like the henske/yester as if it was the second coming of christ. but he cant risk singing the praises of a truly unique one like this amazing "search party" album. is he scared the prog/fusion guys will make fun of him if he doesnt put in a few cracks about the musicianship on an album like this?
amazing record ..... one of a kind.

11:02 PM  
Blogger Vlasdance said...

It is really a great record..
Maybe you are right about the review..

11:46 PM  
Blogger cinematographer said...

i pulled out Farewell Aldebaran the other night, and you know what?
pretty amazing album i gotta admit.
thanx for the rosebud too!

10:13 PM  

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