Various Artists, Brown Acid: The Second Trip: Midnight Witches and Show Stoppers (Plus Track Premiere)

brown acid the second trip

[Click play above to stream Silence of the Morning by Glass Sun from Brown Acid: The Second Trip. Comp is out April 20 on RidingEasy Records.]

We live in an age of curation and commentary. Whether that is politics, art and culture, or just about any other facet of existence, it’s a safe bet someone is going to have something to say about it, whether that’s via a traditional media outlet in a traditional media structure — i.e. pundits, the news, and so on — or hosting an art show. I look at the 10-track Brown Acid: The Second Trip compilation from RidingEasy Records as very much along the lines of the latter. It follows the 2015 comp Brown Acid: The First Trip and shares its purpose in delivering “Heavy Music from the Comedown Era,” boasting tracks in a range of styles within the rudimentary heavy ’70s rock and proto-metal sphere, touching on Tull-style prog, presaging the grand choruses of radio-friendly arena rock, fuzzing out in garage style and even getting some coked-up funk in there before its utterly manageable 38-minute span is over.

Assembled by Lance Barresi, who co-owns the L.A./Chicago-based shops operating under the Permanent Records banner, and RidingEasy honcho Daniel Hall, Brown Acid: The Second Trip presents a distinct sense of the effort that went into its making via the flow between what are ultimately disparate tracks, and as do the best of compilations, it makes a case for the curating process as an artform in itself. I’m usually loathe to list tracks outright, but with 10 different artists plucked from released-a-45-back-in-197X obscurity, it would be missing the point not to recognize each performer involved:

Brown Acid: The Second Trip
1. Ash – Midnight Witch
2. Sweet Crystal – Warlords
3. Raving Maniac – Rock and Roll Man
4. Crossfield – Take It!
5. Spiny Norman – Bell Park Loon
6. Glass Sun – Silence Of The Morning
7. Volt Rush Band – Love To You
8. Buck – Long Hot Highway
9. Iron Knowledge – Show Stopper
10. Sonny Hugg – Daybreak

If the names aren’t quite familiar, that’s exactly the point. While the psychedelic/post-psychedelic era between 1968-1974 has been mined time and again for full-length album reissues, vinyl, etc., Brown Acid seems specifically geared toward pulling together singles rather than tracks from full-length. Thus Ash, from New Zealand, begin the comp with the proto-metal roll of “Midnight Witch,” the A-side of their second single released in 1970 — a full year, it’s worth pointing out, before Buffalo formed in Australia — and set the rolling groove and raw production vibe that ties the entire tracklisting together, wherever it goes stylistically.

brown acid the second trip vinyl

Different players, different acts, different sound, but wherever Brown Acid goes, whether that’s organ-ized proto-prog on Sweet Crystal‘s “Warlords” or the later flute-infused heavy rock of Spiny Norman‘s “Bell Park Loon,” never before released, that vibe holds true. Particularly as it arrives through RidingEasy, Brown Acid is in direct conversation with the link between the “comedown era” and today’s heavy rock. The buzzsaw tone of Volt Rush Band‘s “Love to You” and the swaying Blue Cheer sleaze-creep of Crossfield‘s “Take It!” and the buried leads that ensue are as much emblematic of (some of) the stylistic statements being made by West Coast acts today as they are of their own sound from 40-plus years ago. I don’t know if that makes them timeless — since it would seem that the era itself is part of the appeal, and this stuff is most definitely of its era — but it sure as hell makes them relevant.

Rather unsurprisingly, Jimi Hendrix casts a significant shadow over much of what Brown Acid: The Second Trip brings to light, whether that’s in the swinging funk of Iron Knowledge‘s “Show Stopper” or the bluesy stomp of subsequent closer “Daybreak,” by Sonny Hugg, but with a breadth of artists’ interpretations, there are bound to be outliers. Thus comes Glass Sun with the blend of progressive psych and shuffling heft on “Silence of the Morning,” which delves into a wash of noise only to surface again, as smooth in its transitions as it is organic in its sound.

Surrounded by Spiny Norman on one side and Volt Rush Band on the other, it emphasizes the scope that Brown Acid: The Second Trip ultimately covers — the 8-track simplicity of the two-minute “Rock and Roll Man” by Raving Maniac feeling by then miles away — and underlines the import of the project as a whole. The lesson this compilation series teaches is that what feels like a current glut of bands under the umbrella of heavy rock is nothing new, and while it may be digital singles today instead of 45 rpm vinyl, the intent and the vibrant creativity — and in many cases, the sound — remain the same. I don’t know how long RidingEasy will go with this series, just how much of this stuff is actually out there, but it’s hard to imagine it won’t at least be a trilogy, and with this kind of investigation, it seems to happen very often that the deeper you dig as part of a curating process, the more you find. Hopefully that proves to be the case with Brown Acid.

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