Forgotten series: Impala Syndrome – Impala Syndrome (1969; 2012 reissue)

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Previously known as Los Impalas, this Venezuela-based group eventually moved to Spain where they met with great success. The band’s discs, which encompassed a mix of different styles, were well received and are now relished by collectors throughout the world. In tune with the changing times, Los Impalas then switched their name to the snazzier sounding Impala Syndrome and released a self-titled album in 1969 on the Parallax label, which has recently been revived by Gear Fab Records.

Housed in a ghastly hallucinogenic sleeve, Impala Syndrome stands as a spectacular slab of hard rocking psychedelic informed godliness. The band’s chops, which surge forth with energy and excitement, are constantly firing on all circuits, while the quality of the songs is exceptionally high. Powerful and confident vocals, mated with packets of punchy melodies also flood the material. Cream, the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Sly and the Family Stone tend to be the trinity of influences supporting the tracks, but it’s entirely safe to say Impala Syndrome had their own mojo working.

Cuts like “Too Much Time,” “I Want To Hug The Sky” and “Children Of The Forest” swivel and shake with flocks of fat and funky licks. Crunchy, crushing and aflame with cool grooves, these are the type of songs impossible not to dance to or play air guitar to. Splashed with waves of windy harmonies, “Leave, Eve” skillfully combines pop sensibilities with a stroke of acid rock fodder, and then there’s “Love Grows A Flower,” a moody midtempo piece that grips both the ears and the soul.

A lot of bands choose to save the best for last, and some folks will certainly tag the grand final on Impala Syndrome as the ultimate showstopper. Set to a ghostly raga rock rhythm, “Run (Don’t Look Behind)” echoes both the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” and Them’s “Square Room,” as it hums and sighs to a repetitious beat of mystical mystery.

Crammed tight with dazzling mobility, Impala Syndrome is one of the finest albums of its genre. Synchronicity abounds in pounds here, as the band continually bounces ideas off each other, then locks everything neatly together. How wonderful it is such amazing performances have been documented on record, allowing them to live on for eternity.

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