Plasticland – Plasticland (1984; 2014 reissue)

Plasticland’s classic debut album has been lovingly remastered by Cherry Red Records, along with newly updated packaging reproducing the original album’s artwork, 7-inch single sleeves, period photos, concert posters, personnel line-up info, and new liner notes from leaders Glenn Rehse and John Frankovic.

Their first album hasn’t been reissued in 10 years or so, so it’s a welcome addition to any psychedelic lover’s collection. No one recreated psychedelia as authentically as Plasticland did in the 1980s. When you take into account that the band was based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and not in London or LA, their grasp of that ’60s aesthetic is incredible. How would they have had access to 1960s-like recording equipment, instruments, etc. in 1981-83 to make their record sound so authentic?

I actually prefer Plasticland’s version of “Alexander” over the Pretty Things’ 1968 original. For me, this recording sounds more like what the Pretties were possibly going for, but they didn’t quite attain, with their own Electric Banana version. Don’t get me wrong, their version is a fine one, but Plasticland’s attack is a lot more aggressive, and they sound like they mean it. The hypnotic Plasticland original “Disengaged from the World” perfectly describes the band’s musical stance at that point in time. It’s as though they took the ’67 Pink Floyd template and went further on with it without becoming copyists. It’s a primo example of Plasticland at their lysergic best. I think Syd Barrett would’ve loved to have written an out=there tune like “The Glove” for Floyd back in 1967, too.

The self-penned “Color Appreciation” was the original tentative title track of this album, before the band settled on using an eponymous one instead. The manic “Elongations” is easily the hardest-rocking song on Plasticland. “Euphoric Trapdoor Shoes” has got to be one of the most original psychedelic song titles ever created, and it’s a fab fuzz-tone drone of a song at that. Andy Warhol himself might’ve loved to have used the mid-tempo “Pop! Op Drops” for one of his exhibits.

The oddly titled “Rattail Comb” has hit single written all over it — in a ’60s alternate universe, of course. Also included on this reissue, as with the last, are two worthwhile bonus tracks” “Magic Rocking Horse” and “Mushroom Hill.” Anyone interested in ’80s psychedelia, or just excellent psychedelic music in general, will really enjoy this classic first Plasticland album.

Steve Elliott

Steve Elliott has written for Shindig, Twist and Shake, Garage & Beat and Ugly Things. A big fan of all things rock and roll - especially the British Invasion, garage rock, psychedelic, new wave, folk rock, surf and power pop - he was a consultant on Sundazed Music's reissue of 'The Best of Butch Engle & The Styx: No Matter What You Say' in 2000, and has also provided liner notes for Italy's Misty Lane Records. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.