Forgotten series: The Frantics – Relax Your Mind (1968)

Many bands over the years have been called the Frantics, but the group we’re discussing here came from Billings, Montana.

Formed in 1965, the Frantics experienced an enormous amount of regional success, which encouraged them to eventually leave the area to seek even bigger opportunities. The band first moved to New Mexico, then headed to New York City, where they secured steady gigs and a healthy fan base.

Despite the positive response, the Frantics craved a warmer climate and less stress, so they returned to New Mexico within several months. In 1968, they recorded an album, Relax Your Mind, at Norm Petty’s historic studio in Clovis, which was unfortunately shelved until the Collectables label retrieved the tapes from the vaults in 1994.

Competent and creative, the Frantics operated on a hard rocking psychedelic fantasy grid in the vein of the Yardbirds, the Pretty Things, Iron Butterfly and the Amboy Dukes. The band’s songwriting, shaped of esoteric prose, staunchly captured the essence of the era, while their hooks and melodies were daring and direct.

Wrapped in a sheet of symphonic beauty, suffused with gothic chants, militant drumming and spooky organ work, the medieval sounding “Stone Goddess” weighs in as one example of how ambitious and adventurous the Frantics were. Another far out tune is “Children Of The Universe,” which zigzags to a mesmerizing mix of mellow movements and heavy rock rhythms, punctuated with a burst of roots-flavored, Moby Grape-styled guitar licks.

Piloted by commanding vocals and chunky power chords, “Just For A While” apes the main riff of Buffalo Springfield’s “Mr. Soul,” but that’s fine and dandy because “Mr. Soul” is such a cool song, where “Her And Her Mountain” also surges forth with thunderous fury and fire.

The bluesy burr of a harmonica blankets “Great Tomato” and the title track of the disc deftly combines ghostly vocals with burly breaks and stirring arrangements.

Geared more for an underground audience than pop fans, Relax Your Mind stands as a perfectly pleasant period piece.

The Frantics ultimately trimmed their name down to simply the Frantic and in 1971 provided the Lizard label with an album, Conception, that died on the vine. And so marked the end of a swell band whose progressive offerings would have definitely gone far had they been properly distributed.

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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.

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