Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Head Shop - Head Shop (1969 us, stunning rough fuzz garage psych, 2004 bonus tracks remaster)

The Head Shop were a short-lived band that only managed this one LP in 1969 on Epic and broke up shortly thereafter for lack of promotion and performance opportunities. The mastermind of the group was a certain Milan who came from Serbia in the fifties. Along with Max Ellenhe was responsible for the songwriting and the musical orientation.

The Head Shop make truly psychedelic music! Stereo effects, screams from Milan and alienated sounds of the instruments are interspersed and spread a spooky atmosphere or sound futuristic, as if the band were about to reach new musical dimensions. Track 10 starts out as a regular rock song, but fades out after less than two minutes. They are replaced by sci-fi-like sound collages that take you on a fascinating journey. "Infinity" doesn't walk on well-trodden paths - still psychedelic or ahead of the progressive revolution?

The opening title track is a psychedelic song that starts with some effects but ends in a tangle of guitars and voices all screaming "The Head Shop" - a humorous calling card. The boys must have been particularly fascinated by the vastness of the universe, because the theme is taken up again in "Heaven Here We Come" and the organs determine what is happening. Then we get the first cover version with "Sunny" (how often was that song actually covered?), the 1966 hit by Bobby Hebb , which gets the typical Head Shop sound. Here comes the exalted-theatrical, but at the same time convincing singing by Joe Sianoas well as on the following "Listen With The Third Ear", which unfortunately faded out much too early.

"Opera In The Year 4000" is including a version of the Beatles evergreen "Yesterday". The Fab Four are back - the interpretation of "Revolution" is convincing, it rocks and rolls as if punks are about to dismantle the kings of the beat. "I Feel Love Comin' On" is a solemn, ballad-esque jam number, featuring famed fusion guitarist Larry Coryell as a guest. With its spoken texts, "Prophecy" looks like an excerpt from a theater play - you can tell the standards Milan and Max Ellen had.

The original LP is supplemented by 7 bonus tracks, all of which seem like a footnote to the Head Shop story. Two numbers come from the previous formation The Aladdins . The later sound is revealed on "Scars", while "Second Best" could be a The Doors outtake. The last 5 songs have been compiled from Milan's earlier projects, ranging from folk with acoustic guitar accompaniment ("Sunshine", "In Central Park") to psychedelic pop ("Groovy Feelings") to rock flower power -Songs ("Flowers", "Kissing Game").

Another well done and beautifully presented release from World In Sound, as The Head Shop were able to create an original, almost unique form of Psychedelic. Pretty good stuff you music addicts! 
by János Wolfart
1. The Head Shop (Maxim Ellen, Milan Radenkovich, Ron Craig) - 3:00
2. Heaven Here We Come (Milan Radenkovich) - 2:45
3. Sunny (Bobby Hebb) - 3:14
4. Listen With The Third Ear (Milan Radenkovich) - 2:35
5. Opera In The Year 4000 / Where Have All The People Gone / Yesterday (Milan Radenkovich, John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 4:23
6. Revolution (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) - 2:29
7. I Feel Love Comin' On (Milan Radenkovich) - 5:50
8. Prophecy (Maxim Ellen, Milan Radenkovich) - 2:19
9. Infinity (Milan Radenkovich) - 4:51
10.Scars (Danny Prosseda, Drew Sbordone, Lew Schatzer) - 2:34
11.Second Best (Danny Prosseda, Joe Siano) - 2:14
12.Flowers, Flowers (Milan Radenkovich) - 2:00
13.Kissing Game (Milan Radenkovich) - 2:03
14.Sunshine (Milan Radenkovich) - 1:12
15.Groovy Feelings (Milan Radenkovich) - 1:50
16.Milan Radenkovich (Maxim Ellen) - 1:53
Tracks 10-11 as The Household Sponge
Tracks 12-13 as The Licorice Schtik
Tracks 14,16 by Rick Rodell "Milan Radenkovich"
Track 15 as The Breeze

The Head Shop
*Danny Prosseda - Guitar, Fuzz Bass (Track 2)
*Drew Sbordone - Bass
*Joe Siano - Vocals
*Jesse Luca - Drums, Percussion
*Rick Rodell "Milan Radenkovich" - Rhythm Guitar, Screams, Vocals, Producer
*Maxim Ellen - Producer, Violin Solo (Track 8)
*Geoff Wright - Hammond/Farfisa Organ, Fuzz Bass (Tracks 6,7)
*Larry Coryell - Second Guitar Solo (Track 7)