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Friendsound - Joyride (LP)

Friendsound - Joyride (LP)

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Genre: psych 
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Title:  Joyride
Company: RCA Victor
Catalog: LSP-4114
Year: 1969
Country/State: USA
Grade (cover/record): VG / VG+
Comments: cut lower right edge
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 4218
Price: $50.00

The late 1960s seem to have found everyone in the music business trying to turn out something deep and meaningful. The sonically weirder it was, the more interest record labels seem to have had in the product. As such it probably was not much of a surprise that Paul Revere and the Raiders members Drake Levin, Mike Smith, and Phil Volk decided to follow the masses and take a stab at doing something strange and bizarre without an assist from namesake Paul Revere, or lead singer Mark Lindsay. Still, anyone expecting to hear something in the Paul Revere, or Brotherhood pop-rock vein was going to be in for one major shock !!!
Signed by RCA Victor, 1969's self-produced "Friendsound" made absolutely no attempt to go down the commercial road and to my ears deserves to be recognized as one of the first real "jam" albums. It's also one of those rare instances where the liner notes are dead-on ... 

"A musical free-for-all ... The idea for Friendsound came to us when we were in the early stages of creating our first album. We rounded up all out musician friends in the area and headed for a recording studio to have a musical free-for-all."   Seldom has the music industry abided so closely to the truth-in-advertising moniker. And that pretty much says it all. Exemplified by material such as the title track and "Childhood's End", the six extended numbers were largely instrumental in nature. Credited as group compositions, songs such as "Childsong" and "Empire of Light" were full of studio experimentation, including backward tapes, sound effects and acid-influenced ramblings. Some of it was mildly interesting; some of it simply a bunch of guys too stoned for their own good. Luckily Raiders members Levin, Smith and Volk were too grounded in top-40 pop to totally abandon such concepts as rhythm and melody, but it was pretty clear late night partying imbued them with a lot more freedom and creative latitude than your typical Paul Revere and the Raiders session.

- Crediting fifteen co-writers, the title track was a mildly entertaining piece of studio experimentation. Underneath the goofy spoken word segments and sound effects (the track sounds great with a quality pair of headphones), the song had a surprisingly enjoyable melody (though Don Nelson's flute quickly grew old. So here's what the liner notes had to say about the song: " ... recorded the first night. The second night don Nelson, or multifaceted friend and advisor, overdubbed flute while the rest of us added various sounds and dialogue. And on the third night we mixed the eight track tapes onto stereo, utilizing our "eight-hands-at-the-control-board method." rating: *** stars
- The first thirty seconds of 'Childhood's End' sounded like they'd been recorded at a train repair depot and then the song abruptly shifted gears into an extended fuzz guitar solo credited to 'Grape Lemon'. The liner notes describe this one as: " ... an experiment in musique concrete resolving into 'triumphal' guitar chorus, was created just prior to the release of this album at RCA's recording studios in Hollywood, along with the other two selections presented here." rating: *** stars
- 'Love Sketch' was a lysgenic tinged instrumental ballad. Pretty, but not particularly memorable. " ... involves the use of new recording techniques which can best be enjoyed on a true stereo player. Featured soloists are Don Nelson and Chris Brooks." rating: ** stars
- "Childsong could be called an electronic tone poem as well as musique concrete. We recorded it on location at the Dixie Canyon School in the San Fernando Valley and at the 95th Street School in the Watts area of Los Angeles. We've integrated the children's voices with the sound of celesta, wind chimes, and flute recorded. It should bring back fond memories for everyone." And that's the perfect description for this six minute musical collage. Personally it gave me a headache and reminded me how thankful I am to not be an elementary school teacher. rating: ** stars
- Recorded at the same session that generated the title track, 'Lost Angel Proper St.' was a similarly sounding aural collage complete with slowed down tapes, dialogue snippets, and other in-studio weirdness. On a one to ten stoned scale, this one came off as a strong nine ... Imagine 'Revolution 9' off "The White Album" and you'll be warned as to what to expect. rating: ** stars
- The album's longest performance, 'The Empire of Light' featured Collins and Volk of organ and piano surrounded by tons of studio effects. To my ears it sounded like third rate incidental music for a throwaway film soundtrack. Yeah, it didn't do much for me. Course, perhaps you enjoy tinkling keyboards and serious echo ... rating: ** stars

Once again, not for the faint of heart, or top-40 junkies, but worth checking out for the more adventuresome of you out there ...

"Joyride" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Joyride (instrumental) (Barbatta - Chris Brooks - Dewey Burke - Nino Candido - Ron Collins - Kent Dunbar - Chris Etheridge - Tina Gancher - Bhudda Blues - Drake Levin - Flip Mullen - Don Nelson - Mike Smith - Phil Volk - Danny Woody) - 4:15
2.) Childhood's End (instrumental) (Ron Collins - Drake Levin - Mike Smith - Phil Volk) - 3:26
3.) Love Sketch (instrumental) (Drake Levin - Phil Volk) - 3:26
4.) Childsong (instrumental) (Drake Levin - Mike Smith - Nelson - Phil Volk) - 6:12

(side 2)
1.) Lost Angel Proper St (Ron Collins - Drake Levin - Don Nelson - Mike Smith - Phil Volk) - 9:22
2.) The Empire of Light (Ron Collins - Drake Levin - Mike Smith - Phil Volk) - 9:40
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