Although the Bay Area may have seemed to corner the market on the psychedelic "Summer of Love", the equally bountiful Los Angeles scene was the breeding ground for one of the more inventive units of the mid- to late-'60s. The incipient incarnation of Kaleidoscope synthesized rock & roll with roots and world music, first yielding Side Trips (1967), arguably the most diverse effort of 1967. Their ten-track outing features multi-instrumentalists David Lindley (guitar/banjo/fiddle/mandolin), Solomon Feldthouse (saz/bouzouki/dobro/vina/oud/dombek/dulcimer/fiddle/guitar/vocals), Chester Crill (aka Fenrus Epp and Max Buda) (violin/viola/bass/keyboards/harmonica), Chris Darrow (bass/guitar/mandolin/vocals) and John Vidican (percussion). The combo evolved fromLindley's string band interests, Darrow's love of the Beatles' early records and Feldthouse's exotic-sounding Eastern excursions. After being signed by Epic, they initially wanted to operate under the surreal moniker of the Neoprene Lizards with Barry Friedman (aka Frazier Mohawk) collaborating from the producer's chair. Further galvanizing Kaleidoscope and Side Trips is the strength of the original material. The mid-tempo ballad "Please" was picked as the single, while the album's overall mood and cerebral vibe are front and center on Darrow's trippy "If the Night" and "Keep Your Mind Open." Feldthouse's suitably surrealistic "Egyptian Gardens" concisely demonstrates his distinct contributions, as does the Lindley composition "Why Try." From the other side of the pop spectrum are the layered vocal harmonies of "Pulsating Dream" and the overt jug band influence heard on Cab Calloway's signature "Minnie the Moocher," as well as the traditional tunes "Come on In" and "Hesitation Blues." Enthusiasts and collectors should note the three-disc Pulsating Dream anthology, as it not only contains Kaleidoscope's four Epic LPs, but also hard-to-find sides, such as "Elevator Man" and "Little Orphan Nannie" circa Side Trips. ~ Lindsay Planer
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