By Gillian G. Gaar
"Follow Me Down: Vanguard's Lost Psychedelic Era (1966-1970)
This two-LP set, released in conjunction with Record Store Day, is Vanguard’s equivalent of a “Nuggets” release, and is just as much fun for lovers of late '60s obscurities.
The opening track lets you know what you’re in for. “Getting Together” by The Third Power is a powerful slab of churning, fuzzed-out blues (their other track, “Persecution,” is also a strong psych-rocker). “Fuzz” is the operative word for many of the bands here; percolating away in the back of tracks like “You Said/But I’ve Got My Way” (Erik, who’s vocal is a tad too laid back), and “See You Again” (Listening, who also contribute the languid, self-explanatory “Stoned Is”).
There are all kinds of goodies to explore. “Travelin’ Around” by Circus Maximus, starts and ends with a smart drum tattoo and features some great trippy guitar work by Bob Bruno (the lineup also included Jerry Jeff Walker). And speaking of trippy, Serpent Power stretch out for over 13 minutes on “The Endless Tunnel,” with organ work reminiscent of the The Doors’ “The End,” but not nearly as doom-laden, with a sitar adding the requisite exotic touch. The 31st of February truly capture the spirit of the times in the line “You’re so straight it’s hard to believe it” in “A Nickel’s Worth of Benny’s Help,” a song which swoops between an upbeat pulse and slower, dreamy interludes. Other highlights include The Vagrants’ gutsy “I Can’t Make A Friend” and The Hi-Five’s “Did You Have To Rub It In?,” which shows where they might have taken psychedelia in a more pop direction, had their new manager, Brian Epstein, not suddenly died.
Plus tracks from The Far Cry, The Frost, The Family of Apostolic, Jeff Monn, Elizabeth, and Notes From The Underground. It’s a great collection of rarities exhumed from the vaults.