Wednesday, July 7, 2010
A Strawberry Growing in the Sand: Damon- Song of A Gypsy (1969)
This is, or was, one of the rarest psychedelic collector's items and a highly sought-after piece of vinyl, fetching prices to rival a prince's ransom... now, thanks to the internet, you don't have to be a bounty hunter to at least hear this mythical slice of psychedelia (good luck finding a physical copy to clutch).
So then, with the rareness of it deflated by the callous ease of internet availability, how's the music? What is the quality? How to answer... well, it's cool. Song after song of Damon's deep mystic croon, psych-folk lyrics so simple and right, and a razor-sharp scimitar of deep ripping fuzz raga guitar. It's a recipe for a good song-- one Damon employs for every song. So the album falls a bit short of any kind of "lost masterpiece" status, at least to my mind-- it's so limited and repetitive.
But it achieves its claim to greatness there, rising to the top of the grand rubbish pile of "psychedelic" albums that exist simply to embody an aspect of the "psychedelic" and little more. The content, style, and purpose of this and so many albums can be summed up thusly: It Is Psychedelic. Every song on here is precisely this, a perfect archetype (right down to the vague/familiar lyrics that are so unremarkable they achieve transcendence), but it should be noted that it's not particularly trippy. Much like Jefferson Airplane's tepid vision of psychedelia, which slaps raga and fuzz guitar on nonsensical ("surreal" if we are generous) folk-style songs, Damon too is making fairly normal songs feel a bit weirder than they actually are. I think, at least on some level he's much more successful than the Airplane, though not as varied in his approach, for both better and worse.
I'm afraid I may have talked in a little circle about this record but let me say again what I've said before: not only do I like it a lot, I also like it better than Surrealistic Pillow.
SONG OF A GYPSY