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Chesterfield Kings
Psychedelic Sunrise
Wicked Cool Records
www.thechesterfieldkings.com


R.I.P Doug Meech

This time it's personal. In preparation for the new disc, I had to dust off my vinyl LP (That stands for long-player, kids) of 1982's Here Are The Chesterfield Kings. I could really geek out over garage rockers in the 80's with page boy haircuts slinging Vox guitars and sporting Beatle boots. But it makes me feel old thinking about bands from my generation fixated on groups like The Seeds, Syndicate Of Sound and The Downliner Sect - music that us X'ers had no business knowing about. Then I consider the best way to describe this whole phenomenon to a generation XYY'er-who has no business knowing about The Miracle Workers, Tell Tale Hearts, or Plasticland. So I won't presume to offer any more education than I just have; you can do your own research. The Chesterfield Kings sure did.

Ignoring the incessant tambourine, Psychedelic Sunrise is a masterpiece. And by that, I mean that if I didn't have stacks of music to go through, it wouldn't leave my player for six months or so. Few albums in my lifetime have done that to me, email me if you'd like the list. From the first click of the woodblocks and guitar jangle on the deceptively showdown-tinged "Sunrise," something special starts. The high quality of the production instantly melts away my staunch view that garage requires lo-fi. I confess I uttered an appreciative swear just before Greg Prevost came in all Jumping Jack Flash. Even in this mid-tempo number, Mike Boise's drum patter creates its own surround sound, coming at you from all angles. The upbeat mood of the opener sinks under the blue water of rollicking sea shanty "Rise And Fall," which careens dangerously like a crippled ship at the mercy of the waves.

"Streaks And Flashes" successfully pairs Byrds' guitars from Paul Morabito and Ramones' vocals, with some sweet Hammond rounding it out. And just when your spirits are up again, "Elevator Ride" takes you on an uneasy ride. There's a Summer-Of-Love party going on in the penthouse, but the basement's all creepsville. It almost sounds like they're feeding the vocals through a Leslie oscillating amplifier (the vocoder of the day) for that "Hurdy Gurdy" touch. Some boogie marks the sleazy strutting of "Ups And Downs" while the gorgeous chamber strings and harmonies of "Inside Looking Out" make it the ideal addition to any Hollies slab. (Not The Bloody Hollies - the one with Graham Nash). The guitar plucking is nearly lifted from "Carrie Ann."

A very cool "Spanish Sun" is closely related in mood, dynamics and instrumentation to The Stones' "Paint It Black" and "Outtasite!" grabs that dirty riff The Standells stole from Them who nicked it off Nashville Teens and injects it with train-whistle harmonica. "Stayed Too Long" and "Gone" are several Stones styles rolled together, but I'm starting to see a pattern with the titles here, and there may be some hidden message or a contest of some sort. Probably if you solve the riddle it gives you a map to Trent Reznor's place. See, because after "Yesterday's Sorrow" (which has a killer sneaky guitar line) we've reached "Dawn." And it all started with "Sunrise" you see. "Dawn" is a thematic departure of a Cramps nature, professing, "Levitation/ escalation/ medication/ no foundation /break on through to the other side," and concludes with, "I can't wait to die."

Little Steven Van Zandt put this out on his rightly named record label, which is now 3 for 3 with me after The Woggles and Maggots. He probably plays on it also somewhere. It's an incredible album whose appeal is limited to folks that like music.

-Ewan Wadharmi


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