01 - Reality - 4.25
02 - In My Mind - 4.12
03 - Country Shakin´ History Makin´ - 2.48
04 - Ka Mon Gonna Rock All Night Long - 3.52
05 - Heaven Was Blue - 18.29
Sadly still pretty unknown, this is the awesome debut album by RickSaucedo, originally released in 1978 on the Reality label in the USA.Most of the tracks here are absolutely exceptional, including the titletrack, which took up the full second side of the original vinyl. Lonerpsychedelic, melodic and dreamy most of the time, but also featuringthe ferocius fuzz-rocker Ka Mon We're Gonna Rock All Night Long. If youlike Michael Angelo, Big, and sadly still pretty unknown, is thisawesome album by Rick Saucedo, his debut album that was originallyreleased in 1978 on the Reality label in the USA. Most of the trackshere are absolutely exceptional, including the number that gives thetitle to the album and takes the full B-side of the original vinyl.Loner psychedelic, melodic, dreamy most of the time, but also featuringthe ferocious fuzz-rocker 'Ka Mon We're Gonna Rock All Night Long.' Ifyou like Michael Angelo, Joe Peace or Bob Trimble, don't let this onepass by!
From Lysergia Archive:
In the brightly colored beehive where rare psychedelia drips like honeyfrom the walls there's been buzz on this mysterious LP for severalyears, partly due to its musical appeal, partly due to the backgroundstory, which is a tale worth telling. Rick Saucedo is mainly known asan Illinois-based Elvis impersonator, and a successful one at that, butsome time when the King's ghost wasn't looking he sneaked out and cuthimself two sides of music that were as far to the other end of thespectrum as you can imagine; dreamy, melodic 60s-style psychedelia. Theacidrock sleuths and dead wax bloodhounds tracked him down (of course),but were forced to deal with his manager -- possibly a connected guy --who wasn't likely to see the merit of throwing light on this bizarresidetrack in Saucedo's career. In fact, when a bunch of psych fansrounded up a healthy bag of coins in the hope of getting a few Heavenwas blue:s in return, the manager simply kept the money and madehimself scarce!
Thus: a $900 price tag, continuing buzz, and the exact reissue nowpresent before us. But the strangeness doesn't end quite there, becausethis LP has a skeleton in the closet, one that the psych mafia honchoswere reluctant to share except behind locked doors. If you pressed yourear to the wall you could pick up references to a dread 50s medley thatscrewed up the LP and, it was said, kept it from being bootlegged. Itcertainly explained why most tapes of the LP being traded onlycontained about 28 minutes of music; I know because I had one, and itwas one of my most played tapes of an incomplete album ever. The 50smedley rumor seemed a terrible waste as the rest of the LP wasspellbinding, almost like a psych head's fantasy invention rather thanan actual vinyl object.
So let's get that brylcreem skeleton out into direct sunlight and seewhat it's made of. Well, to begin with it's two separate tracks ratherthan a medley. Secondly, I wouldn't call them 50s in some heinousSha-Na-Na retro manner, but rather examples of the roots rock materialyou can find on albums by thousands of 1970s artists big and small.They're originals (I think) and do sound like a tribute to a bygoneera, but I actually was expecting worse. My guess is that the Elvisimpersonator angle influenced this urban myth out of proportion. Thesetwo tracks do not exactly improve or belong on the LP, and I'llprobably skip by 'em -- easy to do as they close side 1 -- most times Iplay it, but that's about how bad it is. Case closed. Onward to thereal meat.
Heaven was blue opens with Reality, a dreamy yet concise trip of richguitar tapestries and nice folky hooks. It sounds rather similar tothose two other lost-in-time psych masters, Bobb Trimble and MichaelAngelo, and could be seen as the perfect halfway house between them --flowing and multilayered like Bobb's music (even to the point of havingghostly voices speak in the background), while the wistful vocals anddroning melody come straight out of the 1967 Lennon school of MichaelA. Rick Saucedo was obviously unaware of these competing acts, yet it'sremarkable that three such outstanding psych timewarps exist with somuch in common. If anyone finds the explanatory X factor be sure tosend it my way. It's one hell of an album opener anyway.
Saucedo then spins a few wheels on his kaleidoscope and via a singleechoing guitar note we flow into In my mind, a counterpart andalternative to the Reality of almost the exact same duration. It's atleast as strong as the opening track, a little heavier with fuzz chordschugging underneath the multilayered guitars and a more cutting vocalstyle, albeit still totally in a 1967-68 flowerpsych mood, while areference to Jesus towards the end may recall D R Hooker. Along withthe great use of organ and booming bass the track is reminiscent of thebest tracks on Rain Parade's classic 1983 debut album, and one couldspend a few hours discussing why Heaven was blue is one of the lastrelics of the original acid music era while the Parade's Emergency isinstead one of the first (and best) retro LPs. We don't have time forsuch nonsense here, though.
Skipping past the two roots rockers discussed above it's time to flipthe LP over and parachute into the marvelously painted landscape thatconstitutes Saucedo's sidelong title track. If it seems that In my mindand Reality gave promises of melodic psych nirvana, then Heaven wasblue is the realization. Clocking in at almost 19 minutes it issomething unique in the psych world; a successful transportation of theacid heritage from John Lennon's Revolver into the domains of carefullycomposed suites usually associated with bad 70s rock. It could havebeen just another J D Blackfoot, except that Saucedo pulls it off likea charm, don't ask me how -- stacking new melodies, guitar figures andarrangements atop the old ones every 3 minutes or so, each moreswirling and enchanting than the last, and retaining a sense ofprogression throughout. The fact that it's less than a perfectperformance, with guitars occasionally strolling off-key and thedrummer seeming to wing it as he goes along, enforces the human warmthand removes any progrock specter forcefully.
There is a particular segment that begins around the 5:30-minute markand lasts about 120 seconds which I am inclined to take as a glimpse ofa place BEYOND psychedelia, beyond Lennon and Trimble and MichaelAngelo and all the other acid geniuses, great or small, and everyonemust hear this because it's the place where we should be. Exactly how amoonlighting Elvis impersonator found it is one for our children'schildren to ponder; in any event the whole Heaven was blue track is anamazing display of creativity and control, and when it's over it's likehaving been subjected to a dazzling Ludovico-method technicolor montageof everything you hallucinated on the walls when discovering thegreatness of psychedelia long ago: Sunshine superman; Porpoise song;Renaissance fair; Matilda mother; they're all in there, along withthunder and rain sound FX, meandering acid guitars, and howling dogs.
You will notice I haven't said much about Rick Saucedo's lyrics and Ihave to admit it took a while for me to even notice them, consideringthe spellbinding nature of the music. But they're rather interesting Imust say, and just like Trimble and to some extent Michael Angelothere's a darkness lurking beneath the hippie vibe. The lyrics forSaucedo's title track are thankfully printed on the back cover and atfirst I took them as some kind of agnostic love & brotherhoodstatement, but if you really get down to it they look a bit, um...sacrilegious, like maybe it isn't a coincidence that his dog is namedSatan. The three psych tracks all deal with Death, its consequences andmeaning; a theme reinforced by the back cover drawing of a graveyardwith tombstones for the various people involved in making the LP. I'veheard say that the whole LP came about after the shock Saucedo got fromthe King's death in 1977, and if so that provides an interestingsubtext for the ambiguous message he delivers.
The Heaven was blue album as a whole is a challenge for a reviewer, andfor once I'm going to abandon my principles and comment directly on thenumerical rating. The three psychedelic tracks are as perfect 10s asI've come across, while the two rockers get slapped with a 4 each.Taking the playtime of the tracks into account, this yields the formula(9*10 + 7*4 + 19*10) / 35 = 8.8. Quod Erat Demonstrandum. I could takeanother point off for Saucedo being such a schmuck to screw with whatcould have been one of the greatest psych LPs of all time, but truth isthat about 5 minutes into side 2 those two rockers seem a distantmemory, like a bad dream about to be forgotten. Oh yeah, the currentreissue is a bootleg but looks and sounds real nice, certainly betterthan my old CD-R, so get it quick before it sells out.
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