Quality: 4 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4 out of 5
It could be the two manhattans that I just drank speaking, but I find this one exceptionally groovy. Even more than the Millennium's Begin, I feel like these cats are trying to induct me into some strange hippy cult. We'll dance around like the Brady Bunch on the days that Greg got high, sugarcubes in hand. That said, this sunshine pop is not musically in the same league as Curt Boettcher's productions (like the aforementioned Millennium), but I would go for this one before the 5th Dimension, and it's far trippier than the Mamas and the Papas. The Allmusic Guide mentioned that this was a studio construct and mostly exploitative of the counterculture scene, but I'll admit that I'm pretty well fooled.
Usually there are a few tracks on sunshine pop albums that leave me running in terror, but these tracks are exceptionally smooth. Yes, there is a pretty thick layer of cheese, but the orchestral arrangements hold just enough restraint to keep aware from complete kitsch, and the vocals are very well done. The keeper here is "The Happening People," which I hope ended up on some soundtrack for a low-budget counterculture documentary. I've also found myself humming "Whatta We Gotta Lose" is a few elevators. I'd like to think that the answer to that question is far more disturbing than the song. "Plant Your Seed" seeks to pose a misguided rebuttal to family planning, but in a very groovy way. I find most of the songs with parentheticals in the titles to stand out as well. These glue together the album concept of exploring the astral plane together, but I'd imagine that you have to join their cult before you do so. Hopefully it's a little more charitable than the Manson Family. Just as a little side note, the last track sounds like it REALLY wants to be a cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "Homeward Bound," but those hipsters in the Astral Projection just could quite justify paying residuals to those superstars.
If we look at this on a straight up taste level, a copy of this album should probably find itself flung out of the nearest window posthaste. Yet, giving this a listen fills me with peace, love, and the urge to watch one of those Brady Bunch episodes where the guys all have those Noel Redding 'fros. Maybe it will do the same for you.
The Astral Projection - 1968 - Astral Scene