Forgotten series: Flower Power, Spontaneous Combustion, others – Beyond The Calico Wall (1993)

Here’s an invitation to journey beyond the calico wall, where the skies are paved with marshmallow love, yellow orange hangs on a string and the concept of hate and war melt like popsicles!

Originally released on clear blue vinyl in 1990, the digital reissue of this heralded collection, which salutes obscure psychedelic cuisine from the 60s, tosses eight bonus tracks into the mix. Liner notes and bizarre cartoon graphics, smacking of acid induced expressions, further complete the disc.

From the Flower Power, there’s the dreamily dazed “Mt. Olympus” (video below) that cautiously works itself into a frenzy of hissing feedback, where Spontaneous Combustion’s “Up In My Mind” sneers with rebellion to an insistent beat fuming with fuzz guitars.

A spoken word piece, “Burritt Bradley” is broadcasted by man claiming to be deceased and channels ideas and inspiration through the Pulse, the band responsible for recording the haunting revelation, which concludes to a knotty exhibition of thunderous drums. Penned of surrealistic lyrics bordering on downright goofy, Bohemian Vendetta’s “Paradox City” wiggles and romps with slippery, sliding slopes, while “Sewer Rat Love Chant” by Raik’s Progress shivers and shimmers to a lonely air of hypnotizing measures.

Driven by zooming rhythms and whooshing sound effects, Park Avenue Playground’s “The Trip” fuses a gritty garage rock glare with a microdot mentality, and Afterglow’s “Susie’s Gone” is built around a minimal arrangement consisting of squiggly signals and robotic vocals reciting nonsensical poetry.

Six Feet Under, which featured future Bon Jovi drummer Tico Torres on drums, graces the landscape with a great cover of Iron Butterfly’s elephantine epic “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” that is so charming and amateurish, the tape breaks in the middle of the song! Also filed in the category labeled dumbfounding is a crude and clumsy rehash of the Electric Prunes’ “I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)” from Rasputin and the Mad Monks that is so bad it’s brilliant.

Located in the instrumental section of Beyond The Calico Wall, we meet the Greek Fountains, whose duly titled “Experiment In Terror” lumbers and stumbles along to a mind-numbing mess of adventurous racket. A rippling raga rock bite leads the way on the Ceyleib People’s “Changes,” and as for the Waterproof Tinkertoy’s “Continuation” and Bhagavad Gita’s “Long Hair Soulful” both these paralyzing pieces of hardy heaviness pay homage to the freaky free form jamming practiced by the San Francisco bands of the day.

Cosmic, comical and cool, Beyond The Calico Wall focuses the lens on stuff just too strange for commercial consumption. Although the era in which these tunes were created championed sonic challenges, these folks dwelled in a demented dimension all their own. Rich with creativity and imagination, Beyond The Calico Wall holds court as a picture perfect illustration of authentic psychedelic music.

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 on the national charts with "Stand By Me" - which is ironically one of her favorite songs, especially the version by John Lennon. She has also contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as associate editor of Rock Beat International. Paterson's own publications have included Inside Out, and Twist And Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.