quality : lossless (ape, cue, log, scans)
time: 1:07'00" size: 342 mb issue: 2004
Fuzz Acid & Flowers:
Joe Byrd, who master-minded this group of experimental Californian musicians, was born in Louisville, Kentucky. He is a descendant of the famous Byrd family of Virginia and he grew up in Tucson, Arizona. During high school years, he played in country-and-western and pop music bands, but by the time he entered the University of Arizona he had begun playing vibes with a jazz group.
After graduation, Byrd received Stanford University's Sollnit Fellowship for graduate study composition. But Byrd chose to split for New York, where he had already begun listening to electronic music and meeting far-out Berkeley composers.. While there, he worked as a conductor, arranger, teacher and assistant to critic-composer Virgil Thompson. It was during this era that he developed his interest in experimental music and his works were often performed abroad.
Influenced by events in California in the late sixties, he decided to quit New York and head for the University of California at Los Angeles. Here he worked as a teaching assistant, also finding time to study acoustics, psychology and Indian music. He eventually dropped out of UCLA to work full-time on his musical enterprises, putting together The United States Of America, whose other main asset was vocalist (and Byrd's ex-girlfriend) Dorothy Moskowitz, who possessed possibly one of the most attractive singing voices in rock. Other original members included political radical Michael Agnello and bassist Stu Brotman but both left before the band signed to Columbia with Brotman joining Kaleidoscope.
The group's sole album was erratic but often brilliant, with Byrd and Moskowitz writing most of the music and lyrics between them. Opening track, The American Metaphysical Circus parodied Sergeant Pepper and the unusual, but commercial I Won't Leave My Wooden Wife For You, Sugar became well known here in England.
Overall the album was one of the most successful attempts to marry experimental electronic music, with rock lyrics. Instruments used included a Durrett synthesizer and Tom Oberheim's ring modulator, an electic violin and an unfretted bass. The beauty of the lyrics was matched by the excellence of Moskowitz's voice on tracks like Cloud Song and Love Song For The Dead Che.
Other tracks like The Garden Of Earthly Delights and Coming Down appear drug-inspired:
'Poisonous gardens, lethal and sweet
Choleric fruit deadly to eat
Violet nightshades, innocent bloom
Cautiously wait, hungrily loom
You will find them in her eyes,
In her eyes, In her eyes'
(from Garden Of Earthly Delights)
I think it's over now, I think it's ending
I think it's over now, I think it's ending
A thought of coloured clouds all high above my head
A trip that doesn't need a ticket or a bed
And everything is smelling sweeter than the rose'
(from Coming Down)
The album is a minor collectors' item but has also been reissued. It climbed as high as No. 181 in the U.S. Album Charts when it was first released. The cover was originally planned to be an American flag dripping with blood but, understandably, Columbia bailed out of the idea.
Live, the band played an exact reproduction of the album but had trouble getting suitable gigs. One, in which they were paired with The Troggs, was an unmitigated disaster and they also had an ill-tempered coupling with The Velvet Underground (in fact, after leaving the Velvets, Nico tried to join the USA). In addition, tension between bandmembers was rife, with Byrd, who the album's producer David Rubinson describes as "one of the most insane examples of control freak that I've, to this day, ever experienced", attempting fruitlessly to dictate policy to the other strong personalities in the band. Every rehearsal became, in Byrd's words, "group therapy". When three of them were busted for marijuana at a gig in Orange County, California, only Byrd and Moskowitz remained and they soon split into two factions with each leading their own group.
After the group split, Byrd made a further album with a bunch of 12 musicians called The Field Hippies. Although not as successful as The USA album, this was a strange voyage into the world of mystical and quasi-religious music. Once again he found three female vocalists - Susan de Lange, Victoria Bond and Christie Thompson - with seductive voices. The lyrics often paralleled themes on the earlier album.
'Waitin' to die for the seventeenth time
Etched on a mirror in the back of your mind
Trapped on a mountain nobody can climb
You can't ever come down...'
(from You Can't Ever Come Down)
Susan de Lange's beautiful rendering of Moonsong-Peloc paralleled the Cloud Song on the earlier album. Victoria's beautiful Patriot's Lullaby was in similar vein, but unfortunately most of the material on side 2 failed to again the same standard.
Today, Joe Byrd is a recognised composer and arranger who plays electronic music, organ, electric harpsichord and, occasionally, calliope. In 1975 he released a synthesizer albums, Yankee Trancendoodle and followed this with Xmas Yet To Come in 1980. ~ (Vernon Joynson/Lloyd Peasley)
01. The American Metaphysical Circus 4:57
02. Hard Coming Love 4:41
03. Cloud Song 3:21
04. The Garden Of Earthly Delights 2:39
05. I Won't Leave My Wooden Wife For You, Sugar 3:56
06. Where Is Yesterday 3:08
07. Coming Down 2:37
08. Love Song For The Dead Chй 3:28
09. Stranded In Time 1:50
10. The American Way Of Love (Part I-III) 6:42
11. Osamu's Birthday (Bonus) 3:01
12. No Love To Give (Bonus) 2:39
13. I Won't Leave My Wooden Wife For You, Sugar (Unissued) (Bonus) 3:47
14. You Can Never Come Down (Bonus) 2:33
15. Perry Pier (Bonus) 2:39
16. Tailor Man (Bonus) 3:09
17. Do You Follow Me (Bonus) 2:36
18. The American Metaphysical Circus (Unissued) 4:03
19. Mouse (The Garden Of Earthly Delight) (Unissued) 2:40
20. Heresy (Coming Down) (Unissued)
JOSEPH BYRD electric harp, keyb'ds
DOROTHY MOSKOWITZ vcls
STU BROTMAN bs