Saturday, November 26, 2016

J.K. & Co - 1968 - Suddenly One Summer

J.K. & Co 
Suddenly One Summer

01. Break Of Dawn - 0:37
02. Fly - 4:42
03. Little Children - 3:07
04. Christine - 2:13
05. Speed & Crystal Ball - 1:18
06. Nobody - 4:04
07. OD - 3:20
08. Land Of Sensations & Delights - 1:48
09. The Times - 2:23
10. Magical Fingers Of Minerva - 2:52
11. Dead - 4:29

Jay Kaye (guitar, keyboards, vocals)
Rick Dean (drums)
John Kaye (bass)

Jay Kaye was only 15 years old when he recorded this album in 1968.  The lyrics, vocals, songs and musicianship are remarkably advanced for someone who was so inexperienced in the studio.  Jay Kaye made the trip from Las Vegas to Vancouver, Canada to record the lp with top flight session musicians (among them members of noted Vancouver band Mother Tucker’s Yellow Duck).  The album was inspired by recent Beatles’ masterpieces and of course LSD, so it’s not surprising that much of this record is full of orchestral psychedelia and heavy studio effects – music with a spiritual slant.  Another teen, Robert Buckley aided Jay Kaye with many of the album’s arrangements and psychedelic effects.  It was he who created the decaying backward effects on the masterful “Fly,” a track that sounds well ahead of its time and similar in feel to prime-era Radiohead (though 30 years prior).

Suddenly One Summer was conceived as a concept album and briefly featured in Billboard claiming “to depict musically a man’s life from birth to death.”  At least half the album is full of great psychedelia.  “O.D.” features wild guitar playing, great drug addled madness, and soaring vocals, “Fly,” as mentioned before, is an all-time psych classic, and “Magical Fingers Of Minerva” is a great sitar based rocker that usually ends up on trippy compilations.  Other compositions of note are the gorgeous acoustic track “Nobody,” a great pop rocker titled “Christine,” and the dramatic finale, “Dead.”  The LP plays from strength to strength and never falls off into the deep end.

J.K. & Co.’s album was a decent size underground hit in California, leading White Whale to release a single to capitalize on the group’s popularity.  They chose the 36-second album opening intro which at the time was seen as a major marketing disaster.  In the end, White Whale’s terrible management blunder would halter the career of Jay Kaye and also hurt the company’s ability to market J.K. & Co as a serious group.   After the record’s release Kaye had even put together a band with his Cousin John (bass) and friend Rick Dean (drums) to promote the LP’s songs live but success eluded them.  In 2001 Sundazed released this great conceptual acid album through their BeatRocket label.

You’d be hard pressed to find many 60s psych enthusiasts that dislike J.K. & Co.’s Suddenly One Summer; incidentally the only album the group ever released.

Recorded in 1968, leader Jay Kaye was only 15 at the time, and for someone so inexperienced in the studio, the lyrics, vocals and musicianship are remarkably advanced. Traveling from his home of Las Vegas to Vancouver, Kaye worked with some of the areas top session players (including members of the popular local outfit, Mother Truckers Yellow Duck). Inspired by the Beatles recent psychedelic landmarks, and LSD itself, the album is lush with orchestral flair with a spiritual slant. Robert Buckley, himself a teenager, assisted Kaye with many of the albums arrangements and psychedelic effects. It was Buckley who created the decaying, backward effects that punctuate the masterful “Fly” – a track which sounds well of its time, familiar in feel to prime-era Radiohead.

Conceived as a concept album, upon its release Billboard claimed Suddenly’s intent was “to depict musically a man’s life from birth to death.” At least half of the record is full of quintessentially great psychedelia, see: “O.D.”, with its drug-addled madness, wild guitar playing and soaring vocals and“Magical Fingers of Minerva”, a sitar based rocker that ends with trippy complications. The gorgeous acoustic track “Nobody,” the pop rocker “Christine,” and the dramatic finale, “Dead,” are just a few of the standout compositions. The album plays from strength to strength – never falling off the deep end.

Suddenly achieved decent underground appreciation, with contemporary, Los Angeles based White Whale Records to release a single in an attempt to capitalize on the groups burgeoning popularity. Choosing the album opening, 36-second “Break of Dawn” was seen, and was, a major marketing disaster. This management blunder would halter the marketability of the group and, further, the career of Jay Kaye. In an attempt to promote the record, Kaye formed a live group with his cousin John (on bass) and his friend Rick Dean (on drums) – but success eluded them. It was not until 2001 that Sundazed Records released this great, conceptual acid album through their Beat Rocket label. And we’re all the better for it.

This is a most excellent album. One that gets it all right, one that really does have the ability to transport you into some hazy, slightly surreal headspace. The experience can be likened to floating lazily along a slowly moving river. Each track contributes to the whole experience and never strays to far away from the pattern. A huge bonus. No jarring filler that takes away from the flow, no dabbles in different genres to show how clever he is, just a consistently great baroque psych album. While each of the tracks are excellent, "Fly" does stand a bit above the others.

Though the liners tell the story of a young Jay Kaye (16, I think) heading off to Canada to record this album, after hearing the finished product it is very hard to wrap my head around the fact that he was so young. This is an accomplished album. There is nothing here that would indicate an amateur teenager was in charge. In fact, it's the opposite. It sounds as if it was recorded by an experienced, professional band. Obviously, if the story is true, Kaye had bucketloads of talent that one would think would manifest itself throughout his life but apparently not. Another one and done and here it is perhaps a bigger shame that it happened to Kaye than some other great one and done releases. Perhaps he shot his load here and had nothing left? Whatever the reason, Suddenly One Summer stands as a great psychedelic album and should be heard by any 60's psych fan.

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