Quality: 3.25 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4.5 out of 5
Occasionally, you run across an album that almost gives psychedelic exploitation a good name. This certainly rates in that category. What we have here is a positively strange combination of elements which tried to be completely turned on and tuned out, and failed to a certain degree. Yet, in it's failure it turned out so odd that it is still wildly tripped out.
Let's go for the negatives first. The whole "Wizard of Oz" overlay is pretty cheezy. Apparently, here Dorothy (who may or may not be voiced by Nancy Sinatra) is a Kansas kid who tries to become one of the groovy people and getting to where it's at, but ends up surrounded by her psychedelic new friends in a reality bending field of poppies. Yes, we get about every psychedelic cliche possible in 1968 thrown at us during the course of this album. Hopefully you'll find this naively charming as I did rather than annoying. More annoying for me are the voices of the Wozard, Scarecrow, and Tin Man. It sounds like they pulled Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner, and Milton Berle off of a Borscht Belt stage, hopped them up with 28 hits of acid each, and tossed them into the recording studio. Actually, now that I've read my description, you might dig it.
On the sunburnt side of the teeth (I got this fine descriptor from the album), we have an interesting pedigree running the show here. Jacques Wilson wrote the poetry for the Zodiac's Cosmic Sounds album, and the ramblings here are equally strange and amusingly cliched. "Blue Poppy" in particular gives us a truly deranged stream-of-consciousness ranting. The scoring here is also an interesting slice of early electronica. Here's a couple quotes I found just from randomly clicking around the album. Really, it's full of them:
"We have forgotten things that we've never known"
"I have to find out where my head belongs, and listen to the songs, the groovy people sing. I want to do my thing."
"Johnny is marching home again... and again... and again. No, not again!"
Mort Garson, the arranger of Cosmic Sounds, teetered on the edge of being one of those Moog pioneers who devoted their talents to those strange bleepy and bloopy easy-listening albums of standards that you can hear daily in Tomorrowland at Disneyland. Fortunately, this being facinated with exploitative psych, he juxtaposes this kind of easy listening side with some wild screaming synth sound and plenty of odd sound effects. Once again "Blue Poppy" is the freaked out six minute focus for all of this. We also have "Leave The Driving To Us," which comes across as a first draft of Pink Floyd's "On The Run."
I can't guarantee that you'll like this album, but you owe it to yourself to give it a listen. It's alternately embarrassingly cliched and mind-blowingly insane. Leave a comment and tell me what you think.