Vol. 3: A Child's Guide to Good & Evil

by: The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band

The band's third album for Reprise has its advocates among psychedelic cultists, but it really is a letdown when stacked against their previous two Reprise LPs, even if those LPs (particularly the second) were haphazard in their psychedelic-pop-folk-rock admixtures. When they play it straight, the songs are often average or even unmemorable, easy-going late-1960s L.A. rock. When they are obviously trying to be strange, as on the title cut, it sounds contrived, and if you've heard the previous Reprise LPs already, Bob Markley's occasional deranged rants will be old hat. The minute-and-a-half "Anniversary of World War III" is entirely silent: a radical notion for a rock album of the time, perhaps, but something that had already been done by John Cage. There are some pleasing moments here and there, like the melancholy folk-rock ballad "Eighteen Is Over the Hill," which has some exquisite pop harmonies, and there are the usual disturbing and dark undercurrents in Markley's lyrics if you listen closely. The CD reissue on Sundazed adds the mono single mixes of "Shifting Sands" and "1906" as bonus tracks, although those songs are actually from their 1967 Part One album, not A Child's Guide to Good and Evil. ~ Richie Unterberger

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