Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!
This is just a single from Smell of Incense and this one has some interesting tidbits of trivia attached to it, and also apparently explains where this bunch of Norwegian throwback hippies got their name. Both songs here are covers, and if nothing else they indicate just how immersed these guys are in authentic sixties psych music. I have a feeling spending a couple days sifting through their album collections would be nirvana for serious psych fans.
The front side tune “A Visit With Ashiya” comes from former Fapardokly guitarist Merrell Fankhauser and his psych-folk band H.M.S. Bounty (if you want to see what a sixties acid freak looks like today, check out Fankhauser’s personal home page). Originally recorded in 1968 and released on the obscure Shamley label, the song was never even issued as a single by the band, so I’m actually impressed that Smell of Incense managed to not only come across it, but take the time to cover it as well. The cover itself is nothing spectacular, but there is some excellent fuzz guitar and Bumble B’s alto vocals fit the music perfectly. She has a voice that was made for acid folk music.
The flip side contains a sort of reverse-eponymous tune entitled “The Smell of Incense”, another light and melodic psych number, this one culled from the discography of The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band (their second album, I believe). This one was a minor single for that band back in 1967. A slightly more well-known version was released by a minor Texas group known as Southwest F.O.B. a year later. Neither single was noteworthy, but the lineup of Southwest F.O.B. is worth noting as it included Dan Seals and John Coley who would later load up their retirement funds as the sugary west- coast schmaltzy-pop group known as England Dan & John Ford Coley (I’d Really Love to See You Tonight). As an aside, Dan Seals’ brother Jim amassed his own fortune making similar pop music as half of the duo Seals & Crofts (“Summer Breeze”, “We May Never Pass This Way Again”). None of that has any bearing on this record, but like I said the trivia is interesting at least.
Of the two songs “The Smell of Incense” is a better recording, featuring not only excellent psych guitar once again, but also sitar and some tight harmonizing vocals. I’ve heard all three mentioned versions of this song, and this one is probably my favorite.
This single is surprisingly still available from the band’s label September Gurls, and is worth picking up after you’ve checked out at least one of their albums to make sure their sound is for you. This is more traditional psych than any of their albums and while I love the first two (haven’t had a chance to get their latest album yet), the band gets three stars for this single in recognition of their resurrection of two obscure psych singles and their impressive knowledge of the genre.