Friday, July 20, 2018

Lee Michaels - 1968 - Carnival Of Life

Lee Michaels 
Carnival Of Life

01. Hello 4:24
02. Another One 4:08
03. StreetCar 3:35
04. Love 5:07
05. Carnival Of Life 3:00
06. Why 3:23
07. Tomorrow 4:33
08. Sounding The Sleeping 4:05
09. My Friends 2:40

Bass – John Keski
Drums – Eddie Hoh
Guitar – Hamilton W. Watt
Organ – Gary Davis
Piano, Organ, Harpsichord, Vocals – Lee Michaels

Lee Michaels' debut studio album Carnival of Life includes nine tracks which are all pretty nice but nothing totally mindblowing. The sound of this record is organ driven psych rock style with some pop-psych elements here and there. I dig the sound of these guys but the problem is the songwriting which is decent at best.

This album was quite something back in the late '60s. Lee's large vocal range and his Hammond organ work (along with piano and harpsichord) was pretty awesome. And the band with Hamilton W. Watt III on guitar (full of huge slabs of tightly controlled fuzz) along with the impressive drumming of "Fast" Eddie Hoh (who recently passed) who also played on Tim Buckley's "Goodbye And Hello" album, along with Jimmy Bond on bass, and an added guitarist give this set some good period excitement. Even the lighter songs have a certain something that makes this album a perfect example of late '60s rock. And check the cover photo of Michaels--another example of the late '60s.

Carnival Of Life, I'll bet, is one of those albums that grazed across very early FM radio for a few months, before the formats became more streamlined, back when the "underground" was really only 500 or so albums.

It's got soul influenced, pre-progressive organ jams, with a little acid guitar, and Michael's voice riding someplace under the huge organ and the huge drums, which, I understand, were played by a huge guy named Frosty.

Carnival Of Life also has a muddy sound--which I like. It almost takes on a FM 3am dream quality-the type of music you THINK you heard, a long, long time ago, maybe at a 1968 party at 3am. Maybe studying in your dorm with your hip roommate, the one with all the "groovy" records. Maybe doing something else with your hip roommate. Use your 1968 imagination. Did you EVER hear this music? Did it even exist?

Yeah, it did. Still does. If you're ever curious about the underbelly of the underground or want to hear some of the music the world has completely forgotten--except for a record sleeve eating crazy like me--check Carnival Of Life out

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