Liner Note Author: Burnin' Mike Vernon.
Illustrator: Mike Vernon.
In the late '60s, outstanding veteran Los Angeles guitarist Jerry Cole was the main force behind several budget psychedelic albums. Mostly instrumental, mostly comprised of Cole originals, and mostly released on the Custom label, these were perhaps more pseudo-psychedelic than psychedelically psychedelic. Attributed to different studio-only bands, they highlighted Cole's versatile ability to emulate various guitar styles heard on late-'60s psychedelic (or at least psychedically influenced) rock and soul records. This 24-track compilation collects cuts from four such Custom albums: the Projection Company's Give Me Some Lovin', T. Swift & the Electric Bag's Are You Experienced?, the Generation Gap's Up Up and Away, and the Stone Canyon Rock Group's MacArthur Park. The fine packaging and annotation can't disguise that these were, when you get down to it, psychedelic exploitation records that weren't nearly as creative as the real thing, as enjoyable as they might be to some collectors of psychedelic ephemera. Cole was adept at devising distorted, buzzy-twangy psychedelic-style riffs, but the songs were more vehicles for getting them done and into the marketplace quickly than they were memorable compositions in their own right. Truth to tell, much of this sounds like adequate background music to drug-taking or party scenes in psychsploitation B-movies, Cole sometimes sounding more like a mildly psychedelicized surf guitarist than a trippy experimentalist. That might serve as a recommendation to listeners with certain tastes, and Cole does ably simulate Roger McGuinn's Byrds 12-string psychedelic riffs on "What's Your Bag?," as well as getting into a competent (if not terribly psychedelic) Wes Montgomery bag on "Tune Out of Place" and copping the Yardbirds' "The Nazz Are Blue" on "Boil the Kettle." On the other hand, the rather dreadful cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Are You Experienced" has incredibly lame vocals, and the version of "MacArthur Park" (with an unknown vocalist) is not as entertainingly bad as the liner notes might lead you to believe. ~ Richie Unterberger