Rock ‘n’ roll compilations have a long history of making hard-to-find and some never-found acts accessible to the underground masses: Think the classic Nuggets or Pebbles, both which introduced urban and suburban kids to the sounds that would one day shape the futures of heavy metal, alternative rock, and punk. One of the latest and greatest in that tradition is Brown Acid, which arrives in its seventh iteration on 31 October via RidingEasy Records.
Lance Barresi, co-owner of the L.A./Chicago retail outfit Permanent Records, has made it his work to track down rare singles from the 1960s and 1970s to form the nucleus of this series. Partnering with Daniel Hall of RidingEasy Records, he emerges once more with a collection that must be heard to be believed. It’s no easy task to track down the members of these long-defunct outfits; the agreement is to keep the collections completely above-board with full band involvement, making Brown Acid as equitable as can be.
The far-and-wide approach introduces us to several new favorites along the lines of hard rock, heavy psych, and proto-metal. Pegasus, the band which appears via “The Sorcerer” (1972), was one of the rarest tunes, though it’s not hard to imagine its influence on a later generation of punk acts, including Black Flag.
Among the other surprises in store is a healthy dose of rock from Youngtown, Ohio. Though the city boasts fewer than 150,000 people it has been a bedrock of the obscure and this new volume of Brown Acid boasts the city’s Blue Amber, while the thoroughly out-of-the-way McAlester, Oklahoma brings us Third World and the (relatively) nearby Oklahoma City offers forth the treasures of Blizzard. Whether the music emerges from Virginia, Sweden or Dallas, the songs featured on Brown Acid: The Seventh Trip prove to be among some of the most singular, peculiar and, well, trippy music you’re going to hear in one spot.
It’s not so much the weirdness, though, as the sheer treasure of hearing what young musical minds were getting up to in strange corners of the universe before the arrival of the Space Shuttle, the home computer and the underground music network that would transform places such as Norman, Oklahoma from a place most counterculture types would want to avoid to a place they had to play.
Three (or should it be seven?) cheers for Brown Acid and its curatorial powers then.