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Second Hand - Death May Be Your Santa Claus   CD (album) cover

DEATH MAY BE YOUR SANTA CLAUS

Second Hand

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.95 | 45 ratings

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jonsilence
4 stars On the WTF?/Whacked-out scale this album doesn't just rate a 10+++......its off the charts. One of the most insane, out-there, and seriously disturbed/disturbing records you'll ever hear in the 'mainstream' of progressive rock, although this is really more of a late psychedelic album. Undoubtedly made under the influence of a LOT of drugs, and probably best heard in that state. If not, it will make you feel that way! Definitely an altered-state inducing recording. From the time it was released in the early 70s I found this record very inaccessible. I loved the title track with its great catchy organ riff and crazy Arthur Brown-like vocal. I really WANTED this record to be good and live up to its even-then legendary status. But beyond the title track I found I couldn't just drop the tone arm down onto any other song and get the same immediate impact, although 'Lucifer and the Egg' comes close.

What nobody seemed to know then, and even now, which makes it easier to sit through the entire record from front to back, is that this is actually a SOUNDTRACK for an equally obscure and bizarre film of the same name. This explains the unusual structure ( lack of) pervading the entire album, and the surreal dreamlike/nightmare qualities throughout. Yes, many of the hallmarks of traditional 'prog' are here: organ (the chief melodic instrument), odd time signatures, classical sounding passages/quotes. But the vocals are about as 'unprogressive' as you can get and are actually 'punk' in most cases (save for the Beautiful 'Hangin' on an Eyelid'), with heavy doses of near-psychotic levels of emotion; a kind of prog/punk 'expressionism' if you want a label. Singers like Maynard Keenan from TOOL and Mike Patton from Faith No More/Mr Bungle would probably worship this record if they knew about it. Its only now, thirty five years after it first came out, that I'm really getting into this completely one of a kind album that stands totally. Think of Pink Floyd in hell and maybe you get an idea. Or the track actually entitled 'Hell' from the first Gracious album...except that on this album there is a lot of humor and fun in the overall vibe too.

You get the feeling these guys were stoned out of their minds and in a Zap comix kind of space when they recorded this insane masterpiece, which, typical for the period and the 'stoner' mentality, has plenty of carnival funhouse kind of moments and left-to- right panning of the channels. Wow man, heavy!!! Where's Julian Cope? Not surprisingly, this band changed their name to 'Chillum' (a dope paraphernalia-related moniker...of course!) and did another stoner sounding record before totally going off the rails and becoming the outlandish Seventh Wave. Savor this bizarre album lying on your back with the black/strobe light handy. Be forewarned: this is certainly not an ACID friendly or chick-friendly record. And remember: Death May be YOUR Santa Claus!

jonsilence | 4/5 |

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