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Pussy - Plays CD (album) cover

PLAYS

Pussy

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

2.72 | 17 ratings

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2 stars I kind of wondered when this was going to pop up.

It's one of those "Rare and collectable" albums, which , usually means that the music itself does not stand up to the hype surrounding it, e.g. Catapilla, Leafhound and Kaleidoscope.

Sure, these bands produced good albums, but none good enough to justify the astronomical price tag of an original. In fact, I would suggest that there are a mere handful of these "Lost Classics" that really deserve the title, e.g. Arzachel, White Noise and Angel Pavement.

And so it is that Pussy's one and only release on Morgan BlueTown records, which tends to exchange hands for £500 among collectors, is a good album on average - great in places, but not really mind-blowing enough for the average Progger.

There is, as with many of the "Lost Gems", an air of mystery around this LP, as no-one knows who the band personnel were, apart from the credits given to the songwriters on the labels, the stand-out name being one Danny Beckerman.

My research shows that the project was formerly known as Fortes Mentum, who released some nice psychedelic singles - but I'm unaware of any album by this incarnation. Beckerman's name appears as songwriter for several Morgan BlueTown releases - one assumes that the band were mainly session musicians, as they are not named on the album sleeve - but biographical data seems next to impossible to find. More music penned by Beckerman can be found on the Morgan BlueTown compilations.

Fortunately, Arkama have released an authentic package with which to sample the music contained herein - and for £10, it's worth it - for fans of late 1960s Psychedelia and Proto- Prog, that is.

On to the music:

The album grabs the listener's attention with a synthesised cat sound. From this opening, it's pretty clear that this is not an album to be taken particularly seriously - indeed, much late British psychedelia carries a tongue-in-cheek humour with it that really should have been there in some of the earlier releases.

From here it's into the single that I believe was only released in Italy; "Come Back June", a delightful Small faces meets Traffic with a dash of Shocking Blue - an infectious dancy psych/pop number with sumptuous washes of Hammond and slick arrangments with an almost archetypal late sixties sound.

The flip side follows; "All of my Life", which has a quite wonderful little Prog-flavoured introduction, opening into a Traffic-like section before moving to something that more resembles the 13th Floor Elevators. An unusual construction, with a nice guitar/keyboard solo section that still comes closer to Shocking Blue than King Crimson - but is none the less enjoyable. The band obviously had a little fun with studio effects in the outro.

"We Built The Sun" sits more in Kaleidoscope territory, with maybe a sprinkling of early Pink Floyd. There are some really nice arrangement touches, such as the female backing vocals, piano and (presumably) Mellotron lines, but some of the picked guitar lines are decidedly iffy, and the vocals occasionally drift flatwards.

"Comets" is the stand out-track from side 1, being more in Twink/Deviants territory, with slowed-down taped vocals and flying Theremins to kick us off, tempo changes, and a well- constructed psychedelic jam that is much more firmly in Prog Rock territory. It does get a little old, as the timbres don't change, and the jam riff hardly ever lets up - but I'd suspect that in the right "frame of mind", this'd be a bit of a freak-out, man.

"Tragedy in F Minor" is a simple little piece really, but definitely Proto-Prog with wonderful textures created by fairly dense yet ephemeral layers with drifts of Mellotron, Spanish style guitar and Satie-inspired piano melodies that are minimal, but carry a similar melancholy to the composers' works, and as such are very successful. The same Rondo- type structures are used instinctively throughout, with some lovely restrained improvisation putting the icing on the well made cake.

"The Open Ground" is another fairly derivative track - but well crafted enough and with a rather disturbing original flavour. The same inspirations come back - Kaleidoscope, Traffic, possibly Spooky Tooth, Twink - but some might find the poetry disturbing and dark, others who have heard some of the more obscene Death Metal bands might even revel in the use of words like "festering" and "pus-ridden". Still others might find it unecessary schlock - but it's creative psychedelia of the Bad trip variety and intriguing for that, with hints of Michael Morcock.

"Everybody's Song" features what I consider to be a misplaced bass line - a little hook that is overplayed to my taste - and flat to boot - and the whole song comes across as disctinctly amateurish because of it. "This is the turkey track", although there is still stuff to like and a progressive feel to it. I would suggest that this is not a song for everybody despite the title.

"G.E.A.B" rounds off the album with more flat bass. I guess that electronic guitar tuners were yet to be invented... Washes of a somewhat tired sounding Hendrix style riff (half of the riff from "Foxy Lady") topped off with sumptuous but mechanical Hammond make for a real dirge that wakes up a little and trundles around a few solos, but makes for a disappointing ending to an album that had some potential.

It's not quite the very end - but I'll leave that surprise unspoiled!

It's quite easy to see why this languished in the bargain bins back in 1969 - there were so many better albums around, yet "Plays" has its high points, as I've covered above, and is an interesting document of the transition from psychedelia and heavy blues to Progressive Rock.

All in all, an album for the Collectors of Proto-Prog and psychedelic/hard rock of the late 1960s/early 1970s generally. Not for the average Prog fan though, I would suggest, and certainly not for those with more "eclectic" tastes.

Certif1ed | 2/5 |

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