West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, Vol. 2 (1967)

The late 60s landscape was littered with fantastic, long-lost psychedelic classics, albums which pushed boundaries and offered experimental masterpieces known only to the lucky few.

This is NOT one of those albums.

From a strictly artistic standpoint, the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band were pretty meh.  They put out about 5 or 6 albums at the end of the 60s, depending on how you count, each of which had a few interesting tracks and a bunch of dreck.  But it's the band's backstory which makes them more notable.

There are lengthy recitations online, but basically oddball rich kid Bob Markley desperately wanted to be part of a super-hip California band, which would have been fine if he had a modicum of musical ability.  He did not.  So he hired a few musicians to be his band.  And surprisingly, those guys actually came up with a number of pretty decent songs, played and recorded in sturdy fashion, including a handful of near-classics.  But Markley inserted himself into each album, writing a lot of the titles and some of the lyrics and adding spoken-word narration; reading those lyrics (and researching Markley's history) shows he had an unfortunate predilection for very young girls, making a lot of the songs which on their surface are decent enough incredibly creepy.  (If you've got some free time on your hands, there is a fascinating, in-depth research piece on the history of the band that's worth reading; it's no longer online but it's archived on the Wayback Machine.)

The first proper album was spotty but ok, with the amazing Nuggets-friendly single "I Won't Hurt You."  But I prefer the follow-up, which actually has some pretty cool (albeit dated) tracks amongst Markley's bizarre offerings.  The centerpiece is "Smell of Incense," one of the greatest pop-psychedelic songs of the era and certainly one which merits inclusion among anything the Dead or the Jefferson Airplane were offering at the time, with a lengthy jam which took full advantage of the recording studio and the stereo headspace.

You've also got one of the band's many odes to little girls in "Queen Nymphet" -- seriously, about a quarter of the band's songs seemed to be eagerly extolling the impending sexual awakening of preteen girls -- as well as one of their best harder rocking tracks, the Cream-like wail of "Carte Blanche."  "Delicate Fawn" is a lovely, folky track showcasing the band's adept way with a melody, coupled, again, with those damn creepy lyrics, perhaps their most obvious come-on to an underage girl; and the lounge-jazz pop of "Tracy Had a Hard Day Sunday," which sounds like an overlooked Zombies track while describing a drugged-out ex-girlfriend with surprising artfulness.

Otherwise, the album is full of dated weirdness, some of which is fascinating and commendable for at least trying to be innovative, but most of which isn't worth multiple visits.

Bottom line, while the band had some fairly bad and disturbing albums, they make for a wonderful greatest hits package (which doesn't officially exist, alas).

Here's an audio rip of "Smell of Incense" -- get those headphones on!