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Friday, November 13, 2009

Red Crayola Live 1967

red crayola live 1967

When the Red Crayola visited the Berkeley Folk Music Festival in July 1967, the San Francisco Bay area was hippie central. But judging from the surly reviews reproduced on the tray card of this two- disc live set, the trio did not go over with the people who wore flowers in their hair.

Instead of the trippy but well-structured pop songs of their debut album, The Parable of Arable Land, the Crayola played lengthy feedback assaults that terrorized the audience. Nowadays such abrasive sounds aren't just the province of the underground; consider Sonic Youth's Silver Session. The approach has been perfected by ensembles such as the Dead C and Rain, who have all wielded the materials employed here to greater effect.

Maybe this isn't like the other Crayola records but it's not like it came out of nowhere. It's outside-music, you know, like Sun Ra, John Cage, Albert Ayler, etc. The Red Crayola wasn't the first nor were they the last to make this kind of music, since it's still thriving and multi-faceted. It has good and bad practitioners, just like any other kind of music.

That said, this double-disc is uneven, but when it's good, it's excellent. The first, long track of the second disc is a fantastic live-set from Berkeley. Completely inspired. The next piece with John Fahey - at his most outside in that decade; is also very good. Fans of his late material will want to check this out.

The first disc from Angry Arts is not as good really. The live set falls flat, and the material recorded in the hotel only has moments. For one thing the singing is annoying. Oddly, there's no singing on the 2nd disc.

The historical value of this recording is considerable, since there weren't many Americans doing free music in a rock setting in 1967. But maybe just the second disc would have been enough.

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