The Essential Donovan
His acid-gobbling buddies The Beatles may have been much bigger news but few artists got more pop hit mileage out of the "turned on" era than Donovan, who took to the charts with trippy songs about a mongoose ("Riki Tiki Tavi"), a lost civilization ("Atlantis"), drug-induced hallucination ("There is a Mountain") and "electrical bananas," ("Mellow Yellow.") Those cuts are all included in this 2-CD set along with other biggies like "Season of the Witch," "Catch the Wind," "Sunshine Superman," "Jennifer Juniper," "Wear Your Love Like Heaven," the previously unavailable on CD (in the U.S.) early hit "Sunny Goodge Street" and the trip-mimicking "Hurdy Gurdy Man." A few additional previously unreleased cuts are scattered amongst the set's 36 offerings.
You can really put yourself into a trance with this one. "Dreams of Mana-Yood-Sushai" features one guitar set to a continual drone while another mimics sitar; eventually a few cymbals get tapped and chanted vocals summon someone or something, maybe God, maybe the inner self, or maybe something else entirely. Just two songs here; the other is "Trees, Grass and Stones," and it too is a long, meditative journey to wherever you want to go.
Future of the Left
The Plot Against Common Sense
Goofy song titles like "Sorry Dad, I Was Late for the Riots," "Sheena is a T-shirt Salesman" and "Polymers are Forever" might give you the idea that Future of the Left is a novelty band. To the contrary they are seriously talented although a bit schizo, rocking like Squeezing Out Sparks-era Graham Parker one minute ("Goals in Slow Motion") and coming off like PIL on a mushroom binge the next (much of the album.) All the best of garage rock and rowdy psych pop is rolled into one right here.
Aqua Nebula Oscillator
These French psych rockers use early Floyd and Hawkwind as the base ingredient of many of their songs but then you never know where things are going; guitar freak-outs galore, echoing and eerie vocals sometimes sung in French and drums that pound incessantly at your psyche ensure you'll never be complacent on this trip. Highlights include the surf/psych of "Turn On" and the buzzing, sitar grooving "Kill Yourself."
Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound
Where better for a psychedelic band to be from than San Francisco? Songs like "L.A. Sacrifice" sound like something right out of Haight-Ashbury 1967; clearly these guys have spent some time listening to old Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service albums. AHISS offers well-written and mostly traditionally structured songs here; airy vocals are the main thing that takes them to the stratosphere and they really hit the heights on the "Eight Miles High" referencing "Sunshine." Cali-psych at its best.