Monday, March 16, 2009

The Lollipop Shoppe - Just Colour (1968)

Led by singer Fred Cole, who had formerly been in the Northwest punk band the Weeds, the Lollipop Shoppe's sole album (from 1968) ranks as one of the better psych-punk LPs, and also as one of the better one-shot rock records of the late '60s. Featuring Cole's choked, bitter phrasing, the group staked out the middle ground between the Seeds (who shared the same manager) and Love, with a bit of fellow L.A. psych-punkers the Music Machine thrown in. If comparisons must be made, they were definitely closer in tone to Love than the Seeds, with a mixture of raunch and reflection in the spirit of Arthur Lee. Cole was one of the few psychedelic performers to make a contribution during the punk era, surfacing in the Portland punk band the Rats in the late '70s
01 - You Must Be A Witch02 - Underground Railroad03 - Baby Don't Go04 - Who'll Read The Will05 - It's Only A Reflection06 - Don't Look Back07 - Don't Close The Door On Me08 - It Ain't How Long09 - It's Makin' It10 - I'm Gonna Be There11 - You Don't Give Me No More12 - Sin13 - Someone I Know14 - Through My Window15 - Mr. Madison Avenue16 - Who's It Gonna Be
"You Must Be a Witch" by the Lollipop Shoppe was one of the most ferocious garage punk singles of the 1960s, a savage blast of paranoia and electric guitar that became a sought-after collectable among garage fanatics and one of the high points of the Nuggets box set. The tune was powerful enough that one had to wonder how a group so fierce would come up with a name as silly as the Lollipop Shoppe, and the truth is they didn't: they were known as the Weeds until their manager scored them a deal with Uni Records, who found their original moniker too outrй (the marijuana reference didn't help) and saddled them something a bit more "mod." The Lollipop Shoppe cut just one album, 1967's Just Colour, and "You Must Be a Witch" is easily the most hard-edged cut on the record, but if the Lollipop Shoppe don't hit quite as hard on the other 11 tunes, the material is strong enough to impress any fan of vintage garage or psychedelia. Fred Cole's vocals boast an emotional urgency and force that set him far apart from most of his contemporaries, and the band's blend of garage rock thunder, folk-rock melodies, and psychedelic introspection puts this in the same league as Love and the 13th Floor Elevators. Within a year of releasing Just Colour, the Lollipop Shoppe were history, and years later Cole went on to front one of the finest bands in the garage punk underground, Dead Moon; this album offers a powerful early confirmation of his talents, and if Cole's music got leaner and more muscular with time, he'd already learned how to play rock & roll that was as urgent and heartfelt as anything you're likely to encounter.
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