The Acid Archives
Late last year, the good folks at Subliminal Sounds
, published an essential document called The Acid Archives. Compiled by Patrik Lundbork, Aaron Milenski, Ron Moore, and others, the book is a must-have for fans of obscure psychedelia. Starting out as a website
, the book offers up over 4,000 reviews, rare photos, top 10 lists, historical info, and more. It's a massive piece of work and the results are nothing short of impressive.
The scope and breadth of The Acid Archives is something to behold. There's so much music included in the listings that it would be near-impossible for a single listener to get through it all. And Lundborg promises this is only the first volume. The book is available from Subliminal Sounds as well as Forced Exposure
for all of those in the US.
Lundborg was kind enough to answer some questions through email in December 2006 about the book's past, present, and future.
I started out in the early 1980s as your typical young 60s music fan, and went through the whole trip from the Beatles down to the most obscure "garage punk" 45s. The 60s garage-retro scene showed me that there were unknown, forgotten records out there that were just as great as the famous name bands like the Rolling Stones or the Doors. Then in the late 1980s I got into a more psychedelic mind-set, both literally and aesthetics-wise, and around that time I began looking into obscure "local" and "private" LP releases from the 1960s and 1970s. There was a whole underground of 1000s of extraordinary albums lost in bargain bins and attics, forgotten by time and missing in all the history books. Thanks to open-minded musicologists like Rich Haupt at the Rockadelic label and visionary record dealers like Paul Major in New York, these records were getting accessible in the late 80s.
There was a rapid sequence of maybe 20 albums re-discovered in the late 1980s that just blew my whole frame of reference apart. An album such as Bobb Trimble's "Harvest Of Dreams", which is from 1982 but sounds like a lost Beatles LP from 1967-68, really turns a lot of notions upside down... there's nothing retro about it, it's just terrific psychedelia, from an unknown guy in a small town in Massachusetts. Another important encounter was "Inside The Shadow" by Anonymous, a brilliant LP from Indianapolis 1976. It reflects talent on every level that ranks with the Byrds or Neil Young, yet it was totally unknown. When you hear things like that, you begin to realize how inaccurate the old mainstream Rolling Stone/rock critic "pyramid" view of music history is. And once you've gotten rid of that notion, a whole world opens up, from 1950s exotica to bizarre outsiders from 2006.
The private/local/vanity/DIY aesthetic is much stronger expressed in the US than in Europe. There were some such album releases in European countries, such as home-made folk LPs in England, or crude kraut-rock style LPs from the Continent, but basically, there was no huge 1960s-70s vinyl underground like the one in North America, except briefly during the punk era. In the US, if some hardrock band didn't get signed, they said "well, then we'll release it ourselves". In Europe & the UK, that attitude was much rarer, and typically the bands simply gave up if they didn't get signed with a real label. It's the self-made pioneer attitude of the Americans that paid off once more...
I can see us stretching the time limits both backwards and forward. 1982 was chosen as the cutoff point mainly because that was when the last LPs of the original psych era came out (like Bobb Trimble above), and also when the first retro-psych bands came, like the great Rain Parade. But there were interesting local releases made throughout the 1980s, esp in the hardrock and downer singer/songwriter fields. Before 1965, the selection is subjective, and we already include several LPs from before that, going back to a magic mushroom cult LP from 1957. I do NOT seeing us looking into things like Mexican or British 60s-70s scenes, simply because they were so massive that they deserve books of their own.
The hardest thing to decide was where "underground" ends and "mainstream" begins. We didn't want really famous bands in there, because they're already covered in dozens of books, as well as in things like "Fuzz, Acid & Flowers", and they would steal space from LPs that noone had ever written about before. At the same time, there was a grey area with bands that were both hip underground and reasonably famous. The Electric Prunes was the band we brooded over and discussed the most, but since they were big enough to do European tours back in the 60s and now have a huge fan-base, they will survive without being in our book. I also dropped ? & the Mysterians, the Blues Magoos and other cool bands for similar reasons. We also created a special section for cheap-but-good albums in the book, to help people get started without having to drop $150 on their first obscure LP. There's a great section with lots of good $15 albums, that Aaron Milenski wrote.
Right. Since the book manuscript was sealed up in September, a few items have popped up, both recent discoveries and 2-3 things that we simply didn't know about. But I think it's safe to say that these albums are ones that only the most hardcore veterans of the field will miss. Our main "A-Z" section was developed over a period of 15 years, and at the end we managed to include pretty much everything that was known out there. There will be more discoveries in the future though, because it basically never ends. I guess a second edition is possible, down the line.
I'm listening to one right now, a Southern California stoner hardrock band from 1970 called Wildfire. It's an extraordinary demo LP that wasn't even known to exist until the mid-1990s, although the band was popular locally. I would call it one of the top 10 local US albums of the whole guitar-psych/early hardrock era. It's out on a CD from the band titled "Smokin'", an as an expensive German deluxe vinyl release. Another new one I love is Mighty Baby's "Jug Of Love" from 1972, in my opinion the best "rural rock" album ever to come out of England. It's just come out on the first ever legit reissue.
I think it's good to start from where you are, and pull at any loose end you see dangling. If you like mainstream, melodic 60s music like the Beatles or the Byrds, read our book and pick up a few reissues of private LPs in that direction. If you're big on 70s hardrock like Sabbath and Zeppelin, there's literally 100s of excellent local/private 1970s US albums in that style. If you're into experimental and avantgarde sounds, you can find an amazing array of such music going back to the mid-1960s. After that, if you like what you hear, you can proceed into new styles and eras, and there's so much that it lasts a life-time. More specifically, I would recommend the Acid Archives reviewers personal "fave" lists in the back of the book -- you will see certain LPs recurring on several people's lists, and these are tried and tested classics of the field, ones you can't go wrong with.
At best I can narrow it down to three: if you like melodic classic rock like the Beatles, the Byrds, Neil Young etc, check out the Akarma label reissue of ANONYMOUS "Inside The Shadow", an extraordinary and much-loved LP that just reeks of class and talent. If you like very heavy, powerful guitar-psychedelia and hardrock like Hendrix or the later-day Doors, try FRACTION's "Moonblood", out on several reissues. And if you want to find the ultimate in personal, do-it-yourself, outsider weirdo expressions, try and find the CD reissue of PETER GRUDZIEN's "The Unicorn". With these 3 you're jumping right into the heart of the field.
-- Brad Rose (30 January, 2007)