Wednesday, 14 January 2015

THE SEEDS - SINGLES As & Bs 1965-1970

In the accompanying booklet to The Seeds Singles: As & Bs 1965-1970 Alec Palao quickly counters the argument all Seeds songs sound the same by offering "Pushin' Too Hard", "Mr Farmer" and "Can't Seem To Make You Mine" as examples of their range. It's a common assertion and maybe an unfair one to suggest they had one song which simply varied in tempo and length when what the Seeds were, really, was consistent. 

Unlike contemporaries the Electric Prunes and Chocolate Watchband who saw their groups overtaken by record companies and session musicians to an extent they become unrecognisable,  the Seeds - until their last few singles - remained Sky Saxon (vocals), Jan Savage (guitar), Rick Andridge (drums) and Daryl Hooper (keyboards). Like LA counterparts The Doors, The Seeds didn't include a recognised bassist in the band but as this CD reveals their studio sessions were nearly all augmented by bass player Harvey Sharpe. Not the most virtuoso players, the Seeds were a solid unit who played to their strengths, creating well over three albums worth of creepy, crawly, menacing and unhinged psychedelic flower power built around Hooper's keyboard and Saxon's twisted otherworldly drawl and freakish yelps. I could rattle off now a dozen-to-twenty great Seeds songs without much effort. Many are featured here. 

The Singles As & Bs works for both the newish listener, giving an introduction but by no means featuring all their best material - "Evil Hoodoo" and "Chocolate River" being just two humdingers not to make it to a single - and the older fan who may not have all the non-album B-sides including "Six Dreams", "Wild Blood", "900 Million People Daily (All Making Love)".

For most of their original lifespan the Seeds recorded for GNP Crescendo with their established line-up until late '68 when Savage and Andridge left and the band went through a confusing muddle of personnel changes and winded up with a couple of releases in 1970 on MGM: the acid rock "Bad Part Of Town" and the gently trippy "Love In A Summer Basket". Both singles (and their respective B-sides) often harshly overlooked. Alec Palao's liner notes include interviews with some of these band members and sheds light on a previously dark corner of the Seeds story. It's a great insight into the band and the increasingly eccentric behaviour of the late Sky Saxon - a character worthy of his own biography - who told the band they'd go to hell if they ate an egg and how he felt sorry for chopped tomatoes. There are also plenty of previously unseen photographs.

The songs on the collection, the audio quality (original single masters), the packaging, the liner notes, all make this a superb addition to the Seeds already impressive catalogue. 

Singles As & Bs 1965-1970 by The Seeds is released by GNP Crescendo/Big Beat. Out now. 

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