Vinyl of the Week – The Common People, Smack My Crack

(image via rockasteria.blogspot.com)

(image via rockasteria.blogspot.com)

Listen to the full album on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYHhXKb-Uf8

Album: Of The People/By The People/For The People/From The Common People

Artist: The Common People

Label: Capitol

Year: 1969

What’s so great about it: This album is bizarre. Everything from the band members to the record cover to the music is steeped in mystery and myth. The only thing that’s for sure is that The Common People only released one album. Legend has it that they were from Southern California, some say Baldwin Park, others say Fontana. Supposedly they comprised something of a 5-man biker gang cult and wore white robes exclusively. The album was considered a failure at the time it was released, with Capitol cutting funding after only three songs had been recorded and some of the session musicians dropping out of the project. And yet, somehow the album came together and is regarded, now, as a ‘60s psychedelic masterpiece. The craziest part of it all is that despite the best efforts of journalists and fans, no one has been able to contact any of the band members since the album’s release.

What’s it sound like: The vibe is sorta Moody Blues, instrumentals are kinda Midnight Sun, vocals sometimes sound like Fever Tree – basically a conglomerate of all the psychedelic bands that swayed more toward hypnotizing the listener rather than rocking very hard or weirding them out. The quality of the recording also doesn’t sound too great on a few songs, which I thought was due to the record being old and dirty, but after some research it seems that this is just their sound, which only adds further to the mystery of these guys.

Stand-out tracks: “Soon There’ll be Thunder” – This is the first song of the first side of the album, and it hooked me like crazy. This song is the definition of the word “foreboding.”

“Go Every Way” – Kicking up the tempo a bit here.

“Take From You” – Instrumentals on this song are impressive.

“They Didn’t Even Go To The Funeral” – This song stands out because it is AWFUL. I don’t really even know what to say about it. It’s the first song on the second side of the album, and it completely snaps you out of the trance the previous songs put you in. But I think that’s the point? Maybe? It’s definitely got a Sgt. Pepper sound to it (a yellow submarine is even referenced in the lyrics), so my best guess is that it’s actually a parody of the more silly sort of psychedelic music.

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(image via audiophileusa.com)

(image via audiophileusa.com)

Listen to the full album on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICoizcz-mHo

Album: Smack My Crack

Artist: Various

Label: Giorno Poetry Systems Records

Year: 1987

What’s so great about it: This is a crazy compilation of varying degrees of outsider musicians and poets. It’s a polarizing collection of names – you’re either into Swans or you’re not. You either get the Diamanda Galas or you don’t. You’re either a Tom Waits fan or you aren’t. It’s a wonder that this album even exists. It was put out by Giorno Poetry Systems Records, which was a label created in 1972 by the poet John Giorno to put works by people like Allen Ginsberg, John Cage, and Diane Di Prima on vinyl to make them more accessible to a new generation of readers (well, listeners). The combination of poetry and music works well. Past KCR staff wrote on the cover of the album, “What a fabulous offering,” “Not a bad cut on it,” and “THIS IS GREAT.”

What’s it sound like: It sounds like what it is – what you would get if you put some beatniks, performance artists, and moody tough guys in a room together. In the ‘80s.

Stand-out tracks: “Boiled Dove” (Butthole Surfers) – Sounds way more Velvet Underground than traditional Butthole Surfers. Very trippy and freaky.

“Words of Advice” (William S. Burroughs) – Offering such invaluable words of wisdom as “avoid (truck)ups” and witticisms like “you need it like you need pernicious anemia,” this is a must-listen.

“Anything for You” (Swans) – If you like Swans, you’ll like it. If you don’t like Swans, you won’t like it. If you don’t know Swans, brace yourself.

“Cheap Energy” (Chad & Sudan) – The most accessible track on the record, so if Einsturzende Neubauten is too much for you and you don’t think imitations of the mating calls of sea monsters constitute music, try this song.

“The Atra Virago” (Nick Cave) – Gettin’ all Egdar Allen Poe on us.

Jenna Clark

I'm in my third year at SDSU, majoring in Art History and minoring in Film. I've been a member of KCR since February 2013, and getting the KCR record collection cataloged has been my dream ever since. To check out vinyl, ask questions, or help catalogue (I need help!), email me at jenna91741@msn.com. And to listen to great '60s and '70s vinyl, listen to my show, The Other Side, every Sunday night from 7:00-9:00pm!