Years from now, when some unfortunate soul is putting together a comprehensive history of European heavy psychedelia, Dutch power trio Orange Sunshine will be one of a select few acts complicating the narrative. Similar to the manner in which their chief point of influence, Blue Cheer (who were also named after a kind of acid), forces those who’d look beyond the simplistic “Black Sabbath invented heavy metal” to broaden their horizons, so too does Orange Sunshine show that not all Euro-retro grooving began with Norrsken in Sweden or On Trial in Denmark. Orange Sunshine got their start kicking around Den Haag circa 1999, and released their debut, Homo Erectus, in 2001, following it up with Love = Acid, Space = Hell two years later, both albums released through Motorwolf Records with reissue through Leaf Hound. The three-piece of drummer/vocalist Guy Tavares, guitarist Arthur van Berkel and bassist Mehdi Rouchiche issued their third outing, Bullseye of Being, via the same labels in 2006/2007, but have produced little studio material since — just a couple singles.
In late 2013, Who Can You Trust? pressed a tape of their 2007 set from Roadburn (they also played in 2010), and just last month, Lay Bare Recordings followed suit with a vinyl of Orange Sunshine recorded at last year’s Freak Valley festival in Germany. The aptly-titled Live at Freak Valley 2013 is presented, even digitally, on two sides, and captures Orange Sunshine‘s ’60s loyalist heavy garage psych groove with a marked flow and thorough looseness. Each side tops a little over 20 minutes but meets a fuzz quota for probably twice that, Tavares‘ vocals cutting through in soulful, bluesy madman shouts. Rouchiche carries a lot of the weight on bass, holding together jams that seem to send van Berkel on solo explorations, but as a whole, the three-piece wind up as tight as one might hope for a dynamic act who’ve been at it for roughly a decade and a half, despite the swing in the songs themselves. Side A includes the opening jam that was their warmup before their time actually started, takes on All Saved Freak Band‘s “All Across the Nation,” and The 31 Flavors‘ “Distortions of Darkness,” and side B boasts Lincoln Street Exit‘s “Straight Shootin’ Man,” Sam and Dave‘s “I Thank You” (co-written by Isaac Hayes) “Rock Me Baby” — which Blue Cheer also did — and the Rolling Stones‘ “Gimme Shelter.” The latter closes out in jammed fashion, and each is given Orange Sunshine‘s own stamp and stomp along the way, fitting smoothly with the original “Did You Tell the Woman?,” which to-date hasn’t been included on an Orange Sunshine LP.
The vinyl version of the album is just about gone (Lay Bare sold their yellow-platter version, the band has some regular copies left), but Orange Sunshine have made it available digitally through their Bandcamp, and while it’s not a new studio offering and the fact that it’s at least almost entirely covers doesn’t make me think a new one is on the way anytime soon, it still sounds like a psychedelic garage freakout and I wouldn’t ask more of it than that. Check out Live at Freak Valley 2013 now as part of the 24/7 stream on The Obelisk Radio or sample its two sides on the player below and see what you’ve been missing by not tuning in and dropping out: