Quality: 3.75 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 3.75 out of 5
Here's some French acid folk that just begs comparison with the Incredible String Band. Now, I have to admit that I've never really "got" the renowned ISB, so my comparison should probably come with a grain of salt. Technically, I suppose that this is inferior to the ISB at their best, but it's far less oblique and I have to admit that I enjoy it more. As the cover emphatically enjoins, Subway is a duo and their name apparently stems from their regular gig location. Fortunately for this somewhat downtrodden duo, they were signed to Epic Records, and this recording has some nice production values, although I would imagine that sales wise it must be somewhere in that companies bottom 10 sales list.
There's not a ton of diversity on this album, but the general tone is quite enjoyable. The crux of the music is very ISB-sounding vocals, finger picked guitar, psychedelic gypsy violin runs, and usually an interesting production trick or two per song. For example, "Warm You Are" gains some color from shimmering, phased cymbals and a knock or two on a bongo, while "Rosanna of the Roses," "Enturbulston-Free Form," and "All the Good Things" actually end up with a full rhythm section backing up the song and inch much closer to actually being psych rock. Philistine I am, those are my favorites on the disc. "Enturbulston-Free Form" is a freak out that almost seems to meld acid folk with some krautrock, while "Roasanna" comes across as a damn fine and rough-around-the-edges psych-pop number.
Although Subway borrows quite a bit, they've got a few chops that manage to get them to stand out. Those of you out there who consider yourself full-blow acid folk and/or freak folk fans need to hear this, while the rest of us should remain at least mildly entertained. The subtly tripped-out, minstrels-on-acid cover art doesn't hurt either.