The Kaleidoscope (US)
The world of digging (into/for) music is – assuming that you’re always on the hunt, over the long term – full of surprises.
Back in the olden days of the 80s, when the mod/garage revival was in full swing, and pushed along quite nicely by a wide variety of reissue labels, we were exposed to new (to us) and interesting sounds on a regular basis.
One of the biggest influences in that direction was Edsel Records in the UK.
It was via Edsel, that I – and many of my ilk – first heard the sounds of the (US) Kaleidoscope.
I already knew of the group’s founding guitarist David Lindley, through his work with Jackson Browne, and his own band El Rayo X.
When I first read about (in some zine or other) the Kaleidoscope (I don’t recall is I was aware of the UK band of the same vintage yet) I was surprised that Lindley’s roots went back that far.
Picking up the Edsel comp of their Epic recordings, ‘Bacon From Mars’ was a revelation.
The Kaleidoscope mixed mid-60s California folk rock and psychedelia with all manner of world music influences, making for some of the coolest and most interesting music of the period.
The track that drilled its way the furthest into my head however, was one of their more conventional numbers, ‘Elevator Man’.
‘Elevator Man’ is as close as the Kaleidoscope came to channeling the garage sound of the time, with rolling electric guitar, combo organ, and a snarling vocal.
The thing is, I don’t think I ever had any idea where the song originally appeared.
I eventually found myself an original copy of their first LP ‘Side Trips’ (which featured the other side of this 45, ‘Please’), ‘Elevator Man’ and I never crossed paths.
Until recently, that is, when it turned up on a sales list, where I grabbed it forthwith.
It was released as a 45-only/promo-only track in 1967 (the same year as ‘Side Trips’), and despite ‘Please’ making a minor dent in Southern California and elsewhere in the southwest, went approximately nowhere.
Which is a shame, since it’s such a groovy track, but as I’ve said many times before, 1966/1967 was a period packed so densely with genius that a lot of otherwise memorable stuff went by the wayside.
So dig the goodness, and if you’re not hip to the Kaleidoscope, grab some of their stuff.
See you next week.