Sunday, February 19, 2023

Stack - Above All (1969 us, solid heavy psych hard rock with ultra loud guitars)

Don't let the murky sound quality, almost certainly a result of imperfect source tapes, fool you; Above All is an above-average slab of snotty garage psychedelia. The cloudy sound actually enhances the album in certain ways. The stab at "Da Blues" gives the song not exactly an authenticity but a grittiness that gives the performance the sound and texture of a live recording. The psychedelic cuts, on the other hand, have an enveloping claustrophobic sound that traps the listener beneath the music. While probably meant to be experienced under the influence of certain chemical enhancers, the music is trippy enough on its own to send the listener on a trip of sorts. 

That wouldn't matter, of course, if the songs were not strong or were less than fully formed, but that is not the case. The album opens with a fuzzed-up version of Lieber and Stoller's "Poison Ivy," but the rest of the album is given over to standout originals by Stack, with lead guitarist Rick Gould penning five of the nine cuts. "Only Forever" is a power pop/psychedelic hybrid with some nice fuzz guitar by Gould, and Bob Ellis' vigorous, potent drumming is perhaps the band's secret weapon. Buddy Clark's robust bass, too, is terrific and helps songs such as "Cars," "Everyday," and "Valleys" get completely inside the listener with uncommon force. 

On top of the psychedelic cacophony, Bill Sheppard's vocals simply wail. Stack was obviously skilled, as their resumé bears out, and it is apparent through the subpar sound that the band could be quite powerful. Gear Fab's CD is well worth hearing for fans of garage and psychedelia and may even qualify for the top echelon of unearthed psychedelic obscurities. 
by Stanton Swihart
1. Poison Ivy (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) - 3:20
2. Only Forever (Rick Gould) - 3:37
3. Da Blues (Rick Gould, Bill Sheppard, Bob Ellis, Buddy Clark, Kurt Feierabend) - 7:00
4. Cars (Rick Gould) - 3:36
5. Everyday (Rick Gould) - 6:54
6. Valleys (Bill Sheppard, Rick Gould) - 2:53
7. Time Seller (Rick Gould) - 5:07
8. Hot Days (Steve Hoffman) - 2:53
9. Do It (Kurt Feierabend) - 2:54

*Bill Sheppard - Lead Vocals
*Bob Ellis - Drums
*Buddy Clark - Bass
*Kurt Feierabend - Rhythm Guitar
*Rick Gould - Lead Guitar