11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
John H. McCarthy
- Published on Amazon.com
With the recent release of Lightning Hopkins' Free Form Patterns U.K.'s Charly Records have completed their Limited Edition Deluxe Digi-book series of the International Artists album catalog. All have been remastered and housed in hardcover digi-books, some containing two or three CDs if enough bonus or rare material was available, and generous booklets featuring photos and memorabilia. Some of the bonus tracks throughout the releases can also be found on the Epitaph for a Legend compilation as well. There have been grumbles in some circles about the remastering, but for the time being these are the best bet out there. Besides this release, which was IA-7, the rest of the series includes 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS 'The Psychedelic Sounds Of' (IA-1), THE RED CRAYOLA Parable of Arable Land (IA-2), LOST AND FOUND Everybody's Here (IA-3), GOLDEN DAWN 'Power Plant' (IA-4), 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS 'Easter Everywhere' (IA-5), Lightning Hopkins 'Free Form Patterns' (IA-6), 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS Live (IA-8), 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS 'Bull of the Woods' (IA-9), BUBBLE PUPPY 'A Gathering Of Promises' (IA-10), Dave Allen 'Color Blind' (IA-11) and ENDLE St. CLOUD 'Thank You All Very Much' (IA-12). I plan to cover each release in this series, use the link to the next entry to follow the reviews.......
The RED KRAYOLA is probably the best known act on International Artists after 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS. Led by vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Mayo Thompson, who remained the only constant in their now 48 year career, the original group also included drummer Frederick Barthelme (brother of novelist Donald) and bassist Steve Cunningham. Their first album 'Parable Of Arable Land' was IA's second psychedelic release after the 13thFE's seminal 'Psychedelic Sounds Of.' 'Parable's' influence is not to be sneezed at either, the band has been covered numerous times over the years by bands such as SPACEMEN 3 and ALIEN SEX FIEND. The label rejected their second offering, Coconut Hotel, an album of improvised and atonal compositions, with many running only one second. The album, very much ahead of it's time, remained unreleased until 1995. It was during this period that the band recorded a live performance in Berkeley, California that was even further "out there." They also played a set with legendary guitarist/historian John Fahey that was broadcast on San Francisco's KQED. Both concerts were released in 1998 on the 2CD set The Red Crayola Live 1967. A rumored studio album by the two has yet to surface. With a new drummer the band made a 180° turn on their "official" 2nd album, 'God Bless The Red Krayola And All Who Sail With It' (more on that below). After leaving IA, Thompson released Corky's Debt to His Father, a solo album of lyrically complex but musically mainstream (for him!) songs backed by a studio group. As with 'God Bless' the musical genres were all over the place, country, pop, psychedelia and Tejano, to name a few. Mayo took a break from the music scene for a few years, moving to NYC where he worked with pop artist Robert Rauschenberg, and later to London, where he recorded five albums with conceptual art group ART & LANGUAGE and new wave musicians such as Lora Logic and Epic Soundtracks. From 1980-1982 he was the guitarist in the avant-garage PERE UBU, who recorded "Horses" from 'Corky's Debt.' Thompson remained active in music from then on, releasing numerous albums either solo or with RED KRAYOLA or ART & LANGUAGE. He also taught at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California from 1994-2008 and continues to live there. A long, varied and interesting career, to say the least......
For better or for worse, there have been many artists and bands over the years that will defy expectations when releasing their next musical project, Prince and Neil Young come to mind, creating confusion within their fan base. THE RED KRAYOLA were one of the first, starting with a forced respelling of their moniker after receiving legal threats from Binney-Smith, the manufacturer of Crayola crayons. The first clue to their musical sea-change was the minimalist cover art of their new album 'God Bless The Red Krayola And All Who Sail With It' (take THAT Fiona Apple!) when compared to the psychedelic collage that graced 'Parable of Arable Land.' It was in fact a fitting introduction to the music within. There are twenty songs, the longest at 3:03, the shortest, 0:06, comparisons to WIRE's Pink Flag recorded a decade later, are inevitable. Most tracks run under two minutes, with little more instrumentation than guitar, percussion, bass, occasional piano and female vocals/chorus. The Familiar Ugly and the Free Form Freak-Outs have been jettisoned (although Track 9, "Free Piece" comes close). Mayo Thompson, Steve Cunningham and new drummer Tommy Smith offer a deceptively simple but quite arresting musical experience. Inventive song structures bring to mind many future innovators, like WIRE ("Say Hello To Janie Jones"), The ROACHES ("Music"), TALKING HEADS ("Save The House"), MEAT PUPPETS ("Sheriff Jack"), PAVEMENT ("Tina's Gone To Have A Baby", "Jewels Of The Madonna"), The FEELIES ("Green Of My Pants") and so on. If nothing else, 'GBTRKAAWSWI' proves the old adage, "everything old will be new again"......
The handsome Digi-Book packaging contains a bound-in heavy-stock 16-page informative booklet with an introduction by Sonic Boom of SPACEMEN 3, an 8-page continuation of The Red Krayola Story by 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS biographer Paul Drummond and the usual stash of photos and memorabilia. The music has been remastered by Sonic Boom from the original IA stereo master for the first time, and it sounds great! The booklet states that ALL previous issues had been dubbed from vinyl. These sets are all Limited Editions, grab them quick. Still making vital music today, check out and enjoy the roots of a true original, Mayo Thompson......
0 of 13 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I was first introduced to the RK in the late 60s when a school friend lent me this lp. How bands like this get recording contracts is a mystery. Not only does it not make sense, they seem very inexperienced. I am all for free expression, but this seems to be the ultimate in free-form music, in other words, using creative freedom as an excuse for no talent. I applaud the efforts of Mayo and the boys to do an lp, but encourage and expect real music in the years to come.