Joseph Lanza - Easy-Listening Acid Trip [Feral House - 2020]
Easy-Listening Acid Trip is a glossy and psychedelically colourful book examining the blending of the musical genres of easy-listening and psych rock ‘n’ pop in the 1960s. It’s an intriguing, and largely very readable book, which looks at the surprising relationship between these two genres- which before/ after this time have largely stayed separated and remote from each other.
The nearing two-hundred-and-forty-page book appeared in late 2020. It’s presented in the form of a seven-inch sized paperback, which throughout features the groovy and tripped out covers from the various genre cross breeding’s that went on. Besides the cover artwork, the book is a decidedly colourful/ bright affair- with each of the chapters starting off with a relevant quote and psychedelic visuals. Though it’s far from a picture book/ coffee table book, as Mr Lanza goes deep into the subject of the weird and wacky place where light 'n' mellow fare met more mind-expanding 'n' far-out sounds.
The book begins by giving us context to how the easy listening and psych sounds came to meet. Going on to give a good history lesson on how/ when the easy listening genre first came to be, and the key players involved in the genre's beginnings. As we move through the book, each chapter largely focuses in on one particularly psych artist/ or form of psych sound with artists like The Doors, The Birds, The Beatles etc. Each chapter wonderfully and rewardingly details how these easy listening takes were created/ came about, who played on them, and lastly giving, at points, quite in-depth reviews of each release. As mentioned early on we get wonderful reproductions of many of the album covers throughout the book really bringing the whole thing alive more. I guess the only thing missing is the music itself, but that is where the book gets you trying to track down samples online- which is always quite rewarding/ interesting when you’re reading this type of book.
Lanza has clearly done a huge amount of research/ crate-digging to produce this book- but his writing never becomes too showy or scholarly. Throughout he manages to remain highly passionate and focused about his subject- yet his writing is always grounded and entertaining- never slipping into smugness or aimless waffling on. All making the whole book a pleasant and rewarding experience, that will get you on your own search.
Before reading Easy-Listening Acid Trip I was somewhat aware of the crossbreeding between these two genres- but never realized how prevalent and at points far-reaching it was. If you enjoy either psych music or easy listening, or are fascinated where they met in the 1960s- this really is a must-buy book!Roger Batty