West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, Vol. 2 [Expanded]

by: West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band

The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, no strangers to weirdness on their prior 1967 album Part One, had still often stuck to relatively straightforward, concise, and pop-flavored songs on that LP. Here they stretched out into less structured, more avowedly psychedelic (and indeed experimental) territory, with mixed results. "Smell of Incense" (covered for a small hit by Southwest FOB) was sublime psych-pop. Yet "Suppose They Give a War and No One Comes" was just some fool -- actually the band's chief investor, lyricist, and tambourine player, Bob Markley -- grafting silly, self-consciously freaky recitation of a vintage 1936 Franklin Roosevelt speech onto an ominous fuzz guitar backup. Other cuts like "In the Arena" and "Overture -- WCPAEB Part II" were free-form psychedelic creepiness without the strong content of, say, likely influence Frank Zappa. Yet some of the strangest efforts exert their own strange charm, like "Buddha," with its unfathomable delineation of a garden of delights set against chimes, tinkles, and gongs. Interspersed with all this was some generic country-folk-rock (although the wavering backup bagpipes on "Delicate Fawn" give even that a weird sheen), fair harmony soft rock ("Queen Nymphet"), and unhinged garage-psych-fuzz madness. There's half a decent (if screwy) psychedelic album here, and half incoherence, particularly when so many disparate tracks and styles are slung against each other. The CD reissue on Sundazed adds mono single mixes of "Smell of Incense" and "Unfree Child." ~ Richie Unterberger

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