Various Artists: Poppies: Assorted Finery From the First Psychedelic Age
For a couple of decades following the 1972 release of Nuggets , the Lenny Kayecompiled assemblage of “Original Artyfacts From the First Psychedelic Era,” dozens of compilations and series (with names like Pebbles and Highs in the MidSixties ) dredged up hundreds of “lost” singles variously categorized as garage-rock, psychedelic and other assorted terms. They’ve dried up in recent decades—seemingly because every last record of value has been reissued—but Poppies , a single-disc, 13-track set drawn from the vaults of the Vanguard, Stax and Original Sound labels, and produced by master compiler Alec Palao, is a welcomed new edition. Fans of the era’s minutiae will already be familiar with some of the artists: Circus Maximus, the unlikely psych-folk band that featured future hero troubadour Jerry Jeff Walker, are represented by “Bright Light Lover,” a slice of punky soul that few of his later fans would’ve ever guessed was him; Buffy SainteMarie, the distinctively voiced Native American singer-songwriter, whose electronics-saturated “Poppies” gives the set its name; and The Frost, the hard-as-nails Michigan band that gave us guitarist Dick Wagner. Their “Stand in the Shadows” surprisingly bears more than a trace of folk-rock under the hood. But name recognition is hardly the point here; there are other great tracks waiting to be discovered, among them the twangy “Redeemer” by the misnamed The Gospel, and the Human Jungle’s “When Will You Happen to Me,” previously unreleased and a virtual advertisement for that cheesy organ sound that enriched many great ‘60s singles.