Various Artists - I Said, She Said, Ah Cid [Grapefruit/Cherry Red - 2018]I Said, She Said, Ah Cid is a CD box set celebrating Alshire Records- one of the more groovy & quirky exploitation record labels to appear in the late 1960’s. This three-disc set brings together a selection of the label's output from between the years 1967-71, when the label was trying to cash-in on the growth & interest in both psychedelic & Acid rock.
The release appears on Grapefruit Records- which is the trippier–to-folky 60/ 70’s focused sub-label of Cherry Red. The set comes with a fittingly colorful & bright psychedelic look- with the outside of the box featuring a backdrop multi-colored shapes, and stock photos of grooving 60’s teens. The set also features a very nice glossy inlay booklet- this runs for thirty six pages, and takes in write-ups about the key people behind the label & the (mostly) session musician that recorded for Alshire. Each of the CD’s come in their own colorful sleeves, mimicking the front cover with bright psychedelic backdrops & stock footage pictures. All in all it's another nicely presented set from Grapefruit records.
The first two discs focus in on three separate projects, while the 3rd is a compilation, bring together a host of Alshire singed projects. The first disc takes in three separate releases- first, we get The Animated Egg- The Animated Egg originally released on Alshire in 1968. This features ten tracks of instrumental guitar-based music- that readily mimics more known grooving acid rock, psych pop rock, and fuzzed-out garage rock- with a blend of mid-paced drums, sometimes swirling organ, and at the front of the mix guitar. All the tracks here featured Los Angles session musician Jerry Cole on lead guitar & songwriting, and a selection of lesser known session players. The nine tracks run between just over a minute & three minutes- so nothing stays around too long. For the most part, they are upbeat & grooving, and while many tracks are clearly mimicking more know bands like The Birds- it’s a buoyant-if- fairly conventional & tame selection of instrumental tracks.
The remainder of the first disc is taken up by two 101 String Albums- we have Sounds Of Today from 1967, and Astro-Sounds From Beyond The Year 2000 from 1968. 101 String where a shifting line-up easy listening collective who started in the late 50’s, and for these two albums they are tattling the psychedelic era. Each album features ten tracks, and these are a mix of covers & own composition that once again very much mimic more known artists & styles of the era. As you’d expect with a project named strings 101 the focus here is often string work, and this gets either a light guitar/ rock backing, sitar/ eastern instrument additions, or more fuzzed-out & slightly seared guitar 'n' organ embellishments. Both of the albums are good fun- with a big selection of sounds at play, and some of the covers are really rather good- for example their cover of "San Francisco(Flowers In Your Hair)" is a great blend of warming & swooping string lushness, tick-tocking percussion, twanging guitars & jiving organ work.
The second disc brings together a selection of twenty-six tracks from The California Poppy Pickers- a session musician project headed up by Gray Paxton, who is most known for his 1965 hit "The Monster Mash". And really this is the most blatant exploitation themed disc of the set, as we get a selection of rather mediocre covers like "Yellow Submarine" & "Spirit In The Sky". Or rather indistinctive original tracks mixing together psych, pop & rock traits. Many of these tracks have vocals on them, & these are just fairly bland & stereotypical 60's male singing. Of the three-disc I found this the least rewarding- there are a few semi-interesting instrumental moments here & there, but for the most part it’s somewhat of a slog. Though apparently The California Poppy Pickers releases & albums are sort after & do fetch big money- so if you’re a collector of more obscure-yet- approachable 60’s fare you may get more from this disc.
So the third & final disc is the compilation disc, and this offers up twenty-six tracks & a seventy-nine minute playtime- and of the three discs, I’d say this is most consistent, varied & interesting. We start-out with spiral organ, guitar fuzz freak-out & galloping runaway percussion of "Sabre Dance" from the project John Bunyan’s Progressive Pilgrims. Onto wonderful grating & swirling lo-budget Beach Boy-meets- Beatles vibe of Autumn's "My Little Girl". Through to lite jazz-meets-gospel organ swing of "Golden Gate Freak-out" by The Mustang. Onto the wonderful grooving & jaunting psych-guitar pop vibe of "Chick-A-Boom"- by the wonderful named Capt. Skid Marks- with its gravely chatty male vocal verse & a feedback hazed sing-song female harmony chorus. Really pretty much everything on this disc is great or at least quirky interesting. All making this a reason alone to pick-up this set.
Really kudos must go to Grapefruit for uncovering & examining the work of Alshier Records & their exploitative 60’s & 70’s releases with this box set. And I can see this set both appealing to psych rock/ acid rock fans, as well as those who enjoy easy listening fare too.Roger Batty