PSYCHEDELIC SUNRISE - The Chesterfield Kings (Wicked Cool)
There’s a sticker affixed to the shrink wrap of The Chesterfield Kings’ latest which maintains the album will be right up the wheelhouse of anyone who loves the Rolling Stones, circa 1965.  Talk about an understatement.  “Psychedelic Sunrise” goes even further into slavish, uncharted Nanker/Phelge territory – Brian face down in the pool, Keef and Anita holed up in Redlands trading hits on a hookah, Mick, Marianne, fur rug, candy bar, and 20 police officers at the door - than 1994’s “Let’s Go Get Stoned,” and it sounds as if they might not be back for a while.

Hailed as “neo-garage rock royalty” by no less an authority than their own web site, the band have been at it for nearly 30 years now, singer Greg Provost and bassist Andy Babiuk the only two constants in the liner notes of countless albums, singles, and even a feature film, 2000’s “Where Is the Chesterfield King?”.  Unfortunately, most of that back catalog is on polyvinyl chloride, hard to find, and too pricey for tourists.  There’s a killer box set in there somewhere I’d barter my soul for.

Caught up in the moment I may be (stay with me, I don’t get this chance very often), but on something as simple as a shiny silver disc wrapped up in a tri-fold cardboard sleeve, the Kings deliver 12 songs which pulse, throb, soar, breathe, and release endless waves of endorphin rushes.  Who knows?  Maybe it’s the caffeine.

Chalk it up if you must to the involvement of Little Steven or “sixth Ramone” Ed Stasium, but it’s hard to remember them ever sounding this inspired, focused, or dedicated not only to supplying the basic daily requirements of guitar, bass, and drums, but throwing in Mellotron, maracas, claves, castanets, sitar, Bijou dulcimer, autoharp, tabla, Theremin, zither, electric mandolin, and (whew!) tape effects for roughage.  Haven’t a clue what a baritone guitar or zoom bass are, but they’re in here somewhere, too.

Provost rocks out with his cock out - hands on hips, chip planted squarely on shoulder - on pounding opener “Sunrise (Turn On),” stands well back of the stuttering psychedelic soup of “Elevator Ride,” knocks “Streaks and Flashes” into a cocked hat, and despite the best efforts of Babiuk, drummer Mike Boise, and guitarist Paul Morabito, stares down everything they throw at him in “Spanish Sun,” and “Yesterday’s Sorrows.”  Why his mug isn’t silkscreened on baby doll T-shirts in junior highs schools from Schenectady to Aberdeen is one of life’s great imponderables.   

But it’s the Dollsy slouch and strut of “Up and Down” and the “Sticky Fingers” swank of “Stayed Too Long” where The Chesterfield Kings go supernova, Morabito channeling Chuck Berry, Mick Taylor and Johnny Thunders in equal measures, Provost swaggering with all the pomp of a peacock.  

Despite well-intentioned but meandering liner notes from an obviously-flummoxed Andrew Loog Oldham, holed up in Bogota, Colombia (go figure…), “Psychedelic Sunrise” is a godsend - nothing less than a revelation – swirling with druggy madness and dripping with punk ‘tude, and quite possibly the best thing I’ve heard this year.  No, scotch that.  DEFINITELY the best thing I’ve heard all year.

Get your wallet out.
- Clark Paull

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THE MINDBENDING SOUNDS OF THE CHESTERFIELD KINGS - The Chesterfield Kings (Wicked Cool)
Listening to a Chesterfield Kings album, you get the feeling that Greg Prevost, Andy Babiuk and whoever's tagging along for the ride at the time get out of bed every morning, tease their hair, and put on their retro 60's threads, even if it's only for a trip to 7-Eleven for smokes, chewing gum, beef jerky, and a newspaper.

That's called "walking the walk."

After brief detours into early Stones and surf territory, the Kings have returned to the  swirling psychedelia that marked their early work - the date they brought to the prom - so you'll need your paisley shirt, velvet strides, and pointed boots to ride this rocket.

Originally released a few years back on Sundazed, "The Mindbending Sounds of…" went out of print quickly and was up until recently fetching upwards of $40 on Amazon and eBay.  That's sure to end now that the album has been reissued on Wicked Cool records, the new imprint of one Little Steven, he of Underground Garage and E-Street Band fame and producer of said disc.

Fans of the band (and that would include yours truly) may bristle at the notion that they don't have an original idea in their soon-to-be-middle-aged heads, but if you're gonna steal, steal from the best, and they've once again plowed a deep furrow into "Nuggets", "Pebbles" and "Back From the Grave" territory, heavy on the fuzz, organ, and some genuinely head-scratching lyrics and, as usual, largely get it right.

Nearly 30 years on from their debut single "I Ain't No Miracle Worker" back in 1979, the Chesterfield Kings continue to dance on the coffin lid of rock and roll which, close as I can figure, expired around, oh, 1982, bringing yesterday's sound to today without adding anything new to it.

But this is garage rock.  It doesn't really have to be new. - Clark Paull

 

 


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