I Said, She Said, Ah Cid: The Exploito Psych World Of Alshire Records 1967-71
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2018 three CD collection. Probably the most prolific budget label of the '60s, California-based Alshire was also the most interesting, with owner Al Sherman and his equally notorious hustler sidekick Dave Miller employing leading LA session men and local studio auteurs to supply finished masters that were then issued (and endlessly repackaged) in a variety of fictitious group names. Initially a US-only concern, by mid-1969 Alshire had become something of an Anglo-American enterprise after Sherman hired Pye producer Jack Dorsey - who, in addition to taking over the label's long-running 101 Strings series, brought in a number of English pop and rock bands who contributed to Alshire's bulging release schedules. I Said She Said Ah Cid gathers together the cream of Alshire's late '60s/'70s roster, incorporating key LPs (including The Animated Egg and the extraordinary Astro-Sounds From Beyond The Year 2000) in full, an entire CD of music from scandalously overlooked California psych/rock band The California Poppy Pickers and selected highlights from elsewhere in the Alshire catalog, stretching from obscure UK acts like Autumn and Amalgamation to an attempt to update the music of Hank Williams for the acid-rock generation. The result is the first-ever anthology of Alshire's work, while the accompanying 32-page booklet includes many rare photos, band quotes and a 10,000 word essay that examines in detail the murky, labyrinthine world of Alshire for the first time.
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Disc 1 tracks 1-10 are by The Animated Egg which are all (actually good period) instrumentals, and are actually pretty cool with a sound that wreaks of the late '60s--crisp guitars organs, and even occasionally trippy (listen to "Sock It My Way"--whoa) or fuzzed out guitar playing. Tracks 11-30 are by the 101 Strings, who had to record versions of hit songs from the rock/psychedelic counterculture ("Sounds Of Today"), which describes the arrangements pretty accurately. Included are strings and brass laden versions of "Ode To Billie Joe", "I'm A Man", "Blues For The Guru", and others--check out "Strings For Ravi" as another good example--with it's sitar sounds . Also here is a spin-off 101 Strings group, Astro-Sounds From Beyond The Year 2000, with tunes like "Flameout" (check out the heavy guitar sounds), "Re-Entry To Mog" (with great jazzy guitar) "Space Odyssey", "Astral Freakout", "A Bad Trip Back To '69" and other "groovy" named tunes. But all in all, (if you're old enough) the 101 Strings released a number of albums that were fairly popular at the time by a certain part of the populace--but no rock music fan (including me) would've touched this stuff back then--but with the advent of time you can hear why this music is part of that era.
Disc 2 is taken up with tracks by The California Poppy Pickers, about as close to an actual band as this set gets. Songs include "Wipe Out '69", "Crystal Blue Persuasion", "Bun Buster", "Get Back", "Back In The USSR", "Blues For Berkley Street People", "Born On The Bayou", and a number of other interesting tracks. The several albums under that group's name were filled with (then) current hits along with some original tunes which (some) were actually better than I thought they'd be.
Disc 3 collects various tracks from a number of "artists" like John Bunyan's Progressive Pilgrims, The Heads of the Family, The Mustang, Doctor Marigold's Prescription, Modern Sounds (listen to Hank Williams' "My Bucket's Got A Hole In It" with fuzzed out guitar), and other groups that are similarly obscure and/or made up in the studio. Included are two tunes from the soft-core porn soundtrack "The Exotic Sounds Of Love", tracks from the album "Apricot Brandy And Albatross", plus "Hit Songs From London". Also here are singles by Capt. Skid Marks (I kid you not), tunes from a vocal harmony group called Autumn, and other obscure tracks.
Each disc comes in a period looking groovy graphic cardboard jacket with a track list on the back. The booklet is well done, and everything fits inside a thick-ish clamshell box. All in all a nice presentation of this music. Each disc is crammed with music--79 +, 76 +, 79 + minutes each disc--which is needed to get the full effect of this label's music.
Obviously this set is for die-hard collectors who really want to delve back deeply into things as obscure (and sometimes as cheesy) as Alshire Records. But this music is certainly a part of what was going on in the '60s/'70s, and while it won't win any awards for innovation there's some pretty cool stuff all through this box set. If you collect/enjoy some different types of music recorded to make a buck from that era you might want to check out this box--there's more here that I actually found myself liking--it's got that groovy feel of that period--even (gulp) some of the 101 Strings stuff. A very worthwhile addition to my shelf of box sets of different and/or obscure music. Thanks to the Grapefruit label.