This album I have had since the 1980s. I listened to it a few times and (kind of) liked it but eventually (in a rationalisation period) put it into a possible "to go" pile.
That pile still exists but the record has been retrieved, and retrieved quickly, and listened to again with "new" ears.
Some music you will get straight away, some music you will get because everyone else is into it (this could be, though not always is, the worst way to develop an interest in music) and sometimes you just need to know where the band are coming from before you get them.
Friendsound were, or are, the latter with me.
When I got this record at an op shop in the late 80s (and it is an Australian pressing in remarkably good condition – even with my few plays it still looks new) I thought, this is okay, but I could find nothing on the band. In fact I wasn't sure (as someone said in a link below) if the band was called Joyride or Friendsound despite there being a song called "Joyride". There were no hints, the band names were strange and the producer was "Brotherhood".
It was only later that things fell in place. It was after going on a Paul Revere and the Raiders kick (the band not ever being big in Australia) that I discovered Paul Revere and the Raiders members Drake Levin, Mike Smith, and Phil Volk were involved in this, and that Brotherhood were the band they left Paul Revere to form.
In 1967, Drake Levin, Phil Volk, and Mike Smith left Paul Revere and the Raiders and formed Brotherhood which released two LPs (in '68 and '69). Sometime during this period, they were also allowed to record this musical "joyride" jam with Ron Collins (the fourth member of Brotherhood) and a bunch of friends, who were backing musicians or session musicians.
So, this is either an unofficial third Brotherhood album or just a sideline. Either way it is one of the strangest, mainstream American psychedelic albums of the time.
The guy at the fine Badcat records blog and shop had this to say: The late 1960s seem to have found everyone in the music business trying to turn out something deep and meaningful. The sonically weirder it was, the more interest record labels seem to have had in the product. As such it probably was not much of a surprise that Paul Revere and the Raiders members Drake Levin, Mike Smith, and Phil Volk decided to follow the masses and take a stab at doing something strange and bizarre without an assist from namesake Paul Revere, or lead singer Mark Lindsay. Still, anyone expecting to hear something in the Paul Revere, or Brotherhood pop-rock vein was going to be in for one major shock !!! … Signed by RCA Victor, 1969's self-produced "Friendsound" made absolutely no attempt to go down the commercial road and to my ears deserves to be recognized as one of the first real "jam" albums. http://badcatrecords.com/BadCat/Friendsound.htm
The liner notes on the album refer to "A musical free-for-all … The idea for Friendsound came to us when we were in the early stages of creating our first album. We rounded up all out musician friends in the area and headed for a recording studio to have a musical free-for-all."
And that is pretty much spot on. This is a wild batch of instrumental psychedelia with plenty of avant garde asides thrown in. These guys are musicians who are mainstream, Top 40 session musicians, and also quite creative, though of their time.
Which means … flutes, guitars, organ, percussion, piano, recorder, celesta, wind chimes, finger cymbals are mixed in with tape loops, backwards tracks, snippets of dialogue, feedback and acid effects but without losing rhythm and melody.
They weren't the only group at the time doing this type of stuff … everyone was indulging but most bands would limit the indulgences to a few tracks rather than devote a whole album to them. How do you convince a label to give you the money for something like this?
Did it sell.
But, the volume of reviews below gives you an idea of its influence or cult popularity. It certainly has increased in stature and seems to appeal to those into avant jazz rock, Kraut rock, prog, improv, navel gazer, psych, acid lounge, free jazz and any other number of sub genres.
It is like some kind of cross between The Ventures and The Fugs via Captain Beefheart after he has had been drinking, free jamming, and hallucinating with Robert Moog.
It had no commercial potential in the US so God knows why it was pressed in Australia.
But I'm glad it was.
Tracks (best in italics)
- Joyride – (John Barbatta – Chris Brooks – Dewey Burke – Nino Candido – Ron Collins – Kent Dunbar – Chris Etheridge – Tina Gancher – Bhudda Blues – Drake Levin – Flip Mullen – Don Nelson – Mike Smith – Phil Volk – Danny Woody) – (instrumental) – How many songs do you know that credit 15 writers? This is a "groovy" piece which is heavy on the flute with hand claps, and some fuzz guitar before everything else kicks in. It actually works up a nice groove. Co-writer John Barbata was in The Turtles.
- Childhood's End – (Ron Collins – Drake Levin – Mike Smith – Phil Volk) – (instrumental) – some old school industrial sounds against some tape looping. Think of a Revolution #9 by the Beatles at a construction site. I quite like this as it soars at the end.
- Love Sketch (instrumental) (Drake Levin – Phil Volk) – (instrumental) – a gentle trippy (literally) song.
- Childsong – (Drake Levin – Mike Smith – Nelson – Phil Volk) – (instrumental) – a six minute musical collage of noise from a kids playground. I have kids so I probably don't need to be reminded of this. Though I wish I heard gentle bells in the background behind the kids voices as they appear her. I suppose if I did I would be escorted from the grounds.
- Lost Angel Proper St – (Ron Collins – Drake Levin – Don Nelson – Mike Smith – Phil Volk) – Another aural collage with a lot of studio tricks including bits of dialogue, some singing, slowed down tapes, fragments of music, spliced music and other studio tricks.
- The Empire of Light – (Ron Collins – Drake Levin – Mike Smith – Phil Volk) – Organ and piano surrounded by effects for almost 10 minutes.
Perfect for, err dinner parties … when you want people to leave. I like it. I'm keeping it.
Lost Angel Proper St
The Empire of Light
- The cover art for this album was illustrated by Edna Marie O'Dowd. Ms. O'Dowd was an emerging artist and a friend of Drake Levin during the recording of the album. https://www.facebook.com/EdnaMarieODowd
- Musicians: Drake Levin – guitars / Phil Volk – bass, piano, celesta / Michael Smith – drums, celesta, tambourine / Ron Collins – organ / Chris Brooks – guitars / Nino Candido – guitars / Grape Lemon – guitars / Don Nelson – flute, saxophone / Chris Etheridge – bass (The Flying Burrito Brothers) / Davey Burke – bass / Jerry Cole – bass / Jim Gordon – drums (Derek and the Dominos, Little Richard and Delaney & Bonnie) / Flip Mullen – wind chimes / Kent Dunbar – percussion / Jim Valentine – percussion / Danny Woody – drums