Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Leathercoated Minds - A Trip Down The Sunset Strip (1968)



by Richie Unterberger

The Leathercoated Minds were a Los Angeles studio-only group, formed for the express purpose of exploiting both the sound and image of the L.A. psychedelic scene circa 1966-1967. Their sole record, the LP A Trip Down the Sunset Strip, was issued on the small Viva label in 1967 because — as Viva chief Snuff Garrett candidly remembered in the liner notes to the 2006 CD reissue — "we had a real good (photo) shot of Sunset Boulevard and we needed an album to go with it." Accordingly, the LP featured hastily recorded covers of some of the hippest hits of 1966 — "Eight Miles High," "Psychotic Reaction," "Over Under Sideways Down," "Sunshine Superman," "Mr. Tambourine Man," "Along Comes Mary" — as well as a few filler psychedelic instrumentals.

The record has its interest for collectors, however, since those filler instrumentals were written by a young J.J. Cale, who also produced and played guitar on the album.


1. Eight Miles High 2. Sunset and Clark 3. Psychotic Reaction 4. Over Under Sideways Down 5. Sunshine Superman 6. Non-Stop 7. Arriba 8. Kicks 9. Mr. Tambourine Man 10. Puff (The Magic Dragon) 11. Along Comes Mary 12. Pot Luck


by Mark Deming
While the Leathercoated Minds is an inarguably superb name for a rock & roll band, the sad truth is it didn't really belong to a group at all. Producer and entrepreneur Snuff Garrett wanted to put together an album designed to give clueless, would-be hipsters an idea of what a night on Hollywood's fabled Sunset Strip was like; he'd already chosen a snazzy cover photo, and needed some session cats to throw together a half-hour of music to go along with it. Garrett hired a then little-known musician named J.J. Cale to produce the album and play lead guitar, and Cale's fleet but laid-back picking is all over this album. Cale overdubs a handful of Roger McGuinn-style lead lines all over "Eight Miles High" and "Mr. Tambourine Man," he throws some twang-centric psychedelia into "Over Under Sideways Down" and "Sunshine Superman," and contributes some enjoyable original throwaways with titles like "Sunset and Clark" and "Pot Luck." Cale and his studio partners (no one's sure just who they are besides Roger Tillison on vocals, though Cale's buddy Leon Russel is probably playing keyboards) probably tossed this off in a couple afternoons, but it sounds like they were having a good time doing it, and the picking is uniformly fine while the arrangements are a shade more imaginative than one might expect for a quickie knock-off album like this. Anyone expecting A Trip Down the Sunset Strip to be some sort of lost masterwork is only fooling themselves, but it's a fun listen with plenty of crackerjack guitar work, and it has the good sense to wrap up its business in less than 30 minutes; those with an interest in either Cale or pop culture of the period will want to give it a spin


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