Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bubble Puppy – A Gathering of Promises

Bubble Puppy was a Texas psych-rock group that set out to be one of the first combos with twin lead guitars. These cats are the bridge from garage/psych to fantastic hard-riff-rock! This CD comes in a nice fold out cardboard sleeve, but has almost no information on it, which is a bit disappointing. But, apparently, this was the band’s only full length release, which is a shame because they had some real promise (no album title pun intended).

This release begins with their 1969 psych hit, “Hot Smoke and Sasafrass”, a freakin’ amazing combination of psych-pop and Blue Cheer inspired riff-rock! Rod Prince (formerly of the incredible Bad Seeds) and Todd Potter duel it out with their twin lead guitars while bassist Roy Cox and drummer David Fore (later of punk rock band D-Day and co-author of their “Too Young to Date”) alternate between smashing the hell outta their instruments and providing a groovy churning beat. This truly deserved to be a hit!

They slow down to a blues-inspired pop tune in “Todd’s Tune” – nice guitar work underpinning a strong melody. This builds in intensity to a real powerhouse of a head banger and again highlights the super strong rhythm section. A wonderful guitar solo progresses as Fore attempts to demolish his drum kit – manic!

More twin harmony guitar work opens “I’ve Got To Reach You” which then settles into a slower, moody piece that sounds a bit like Hendrix’s famous instrumental jam that appeared in the Woodstock movie. But, this moves into other directions and forms truly original and creative chord and melody changes. Pretty exceptional songwriting at work here with the inclusive of a number of influences. More cool guitar soloing as the song extends into a slightly jazzy instrumental – the two guitars really do interact nicely.

“Lonely” has a faint similarity to “Journey to the Center of Your Mind”, but has its own personality and some super fuzz guitar playing. The solo bridge section sounds like it came from something off of Easy Action, while the guitar wails and wallows in its fuzziness. Man, the more I listen to these guys the more I dig ‘em!

The title track follows and is a quieter number relying on Byrds-like 4 part harmonies and picking guitars, proving that they could do folk-rock as well as hard rock! Quite pretty.

Quick paced licks and drum beats start out “Hurry Sundown” but it remains a lovely psych-pop number, at least until the solo, which overlaps a lead guitar on top of fuzz riffs. This has a bit of a folk-rock feel to it, as well – maybe even Jefferson Airplane overtones. More creative instrumental sections ends the number.

Prince and Potter continue to form interesting instrumental melodies for “Elizabeth” and the band is tight as can be on the changes throughout this freak-beat number. Again, they build the intensity of the closing solo section to create a powerful work of noisy beauty!

“It’s Safe to Say” is a short, quiet electric ballad with more terrific harmony work and subtle guitar leads. This is followed by “Road to St. Stephens”, which again is somewhat reminiscent of Jefferson Airplane with it guitar picking and harmonies.

Funnily enough, the album finishes with “Beginning”, once more showcasing super twin fuzz guitar work and a creative use of feedback. Another amazing psych rocker!

This album is a revelation to me! I wish that I had discovered more than the hit long ago – I absolutely love this record!