J.K. & Co.: Suddenly One Summer (1968)

Heading deep into the dusty back shelves of my collection (in a figurative sense, since my whole collection is now resting on a hard drive) for some wonderful-yet-rare late 60s psychedelia.  And you'd be forgiven for being unfamiliar with this one, as it wasn't exactly a huge success at the time, though it's taken on semi-legendary status among fans of obscure and underappreciated psych rock.  It's a respectable blend of fluffy sunshine pop, folk, and headphone-friendly drugged-out weirdness, surprisingly a lot better than what most of the other one-(non)hit wonders of the era were coming out with.

It's apparently the work of 15-year-old wunderkind, Jay Kaye (hence the J.K.), and some similarly under-aged friends, making its lyrical and musical sophistication pretty shocking.  (If you'd told me it was a lesser-known side-project from a Moody Blues offshoot, I'd be much less surprised.)  It's purportedly a concept album of sorts, but that's secondary to the songs, which are stand-alone psych pop songs ideal for your Nuggets-style mix of obscure late 60s weirdness.  File alongside other American examples of the genre, i.e. the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, Sagittarius, and the fluffier side of the Jefferson Airplane.

The stand-out here is "Fly," a stone-cold psychedelic classic; it's slow and trippy, with the obligatory wall of echo and backwards tapes and Beatlesque melodicism, hypnotic and just fucking great -- seriously, if asked for a definitive example of late 60s psychedelia, I'd pick this one as easily as anything from early Pink Floyd.  "O.D." rocks a similarly trippy vibe, as does the spacey, sitar-tinged "Magical Fingers of Minerva."  Elsewhere it feels a little more like sunshine pop, light and folky and a little twee -- again, kinda early Moody Blues in spots -- like the chipper, nostalgic "Little Children" (which works in a "Frere Jacques" bridge), the catchy love song "Christine," and the sprightly feel-good pop of the Spirit-like "The Times."

It's a pretty quick listen, checking in at a bare half-hour, even the more drone-oriented tracks relatively concise and to the point; but it's slightness conceals its ambition, which is far better realized than a lot of what's out there.  Key listening for psych fans.

Here's some home video set to "Fly":
...and an audio rip of "O.D.":