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March 21, 2008

Kaleidoscope (U.S.)

"They're my favorite band of all time - my ideal band." - Jimmy Page

There have been few, if any groups, who could play rock, blues, country, cajun, Irish, swing, psychedelic, bluegrass, Hawaiian, folk, Balkan, flamenco, jug band, and Middle-Eastern music, much less combine them together. There were none who did it as seamlessly as Kaleidoscope. In addition to rock instruments (electric guitar, bass, drums), folk instruments (fiddle, banjo, mandolin), and blues instruments (steel guitar, harmonica), they played instruments most people hadn't even heard of, such as the caz or the harp-guitar. And they played the hell out of them, turning what could have been a novelty act into a tight, energetic professional band.

"We never were a group for screaming teeny boppers, but you bet your sweet ass every damn town we’d play in all the other professional musicians in town would show up to catch every last set we’d play." - David Lindley

You'll hear echoes of Hamza El Din in the oud and saz solos that emerge out of 11-minute psychedelic workouts like 'Seven-Ate-Sweet (7-8 Suite)' and 'Taxim', or the oud-driven 'Egyptian Gardens'. You'll hear echoes of Howlin' Wolf via Hendrix on 'Beacon from Mars'. You'll hear echoes of the Kentucky Colonels' bluegrass in 'Life Will Pass You By' and 'Banjo', perhaps the single best use of an echo box in the history of music (perhaps not, but it's very fun). You'll hear echoes of Cab Calloway, Doug & Rusty Kershaw, The Loovin' Spoonful, Ralph Stanley, Ry Cooder, Taj Mahal, The Byrds, Bob Dylan, Jim Kweskin, Chuck Berry, The Sons of the Pioneers, Duke Ellington and even flamenco masters like Sabicas and Carlos Montoya. But, though this list of multi-varied influences and genres guarantees that they were the most eclectic rock band in America, the way that Kaleidoscope fused them together made all the disparate elements uniquely their own. To top it all off, they wrote taut, witty lyrics and sang with emotion that ranged from sweet to gritty to spaced-out.

The Musicians (at different stages of the band):
David Lindley aka De Paris Letante - guitar, oud, violin, harp-guitar, banjo, vocals
Chris Darrow - fiddle, mandolin, guitar, vibes, sax, tuba
Solomon Feldthouse - guitar, oud, finger cymbals, tuba, caz, canun, doumbeg, vocals
Chester Crill aka Max Buda aka Templeton Parcely aka Fenrus Epp - harmonica, organ, piano, violin, vocals.
John Vidican - bass
Stuart Brotman - bass, penny whistle, gudulka, cemenche, oud, vocals
Paul Lagos - drums, vocals
John Ware - drums

check out these albums:

Kaleidoscope - Side Trips
Year: 1967
Label: Epic
get it here
Their first album, it lays out the blueprint for everything that was to follow. The musicianship would get better on later albums, but they can already beat the pants off rivals like The Doors.

Kaleidoscope - A Beacon From Mars (aka Bacon from Mars)
Year: 1968
Label: Epic
get it here (re-posted Mar 22 '08)
This is my second-favorite album of theirs. Perhaps the best showcase of all their different styles.

Kaleidoscope - Incredible! Kaleidoscope
Year: 1969
Label: Epic
get it here
My favorite Kaleidoscope album, and one of the best psych-rock albums ever. Period. Their musical prowess is in top form here.

Kaleidoscope - Bernice
Year: 1970
Label: Epic
get it here
More straightforward, less exciting. Most of the Eastern influence is gone, as well as half the founding members. They broke up shortly afterwards.

Kaleidoscope - When Scopes Collide
Year: 1976
Label: Island
get it here (fixed Nov-2, 2008)
The mid-70s reunion, featuring most of the original members, and some new ones.All the various genres are there, but they never quite gel like on the first 3 albums.

Kaleidoscope - Pulsating Dream: The Epic Recordings
Year: 2004
Label: Epic
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 (from Lost-in-Tyme mirror)
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 (from Orexis of Death, thanks to Emberglow)

The box set, containing all their classic releases plus unreleased and hard-to-find cuts. 3-cds. If you know you like them, get this rather than the individual Epic albums.

Thanks to Telhadosmundo and Lost-In-Thyme blogs for the d-links. If there's anything wrong with the dls, or the links die, let me know and i can up my copies. [update: well, I can't actually upload any for a while, but Lost-in-Thyme has been resurrected and the box set is also available on Orexis of Death and Chocoreve. Thanks to those who posted comments to help.]

and you'll find all the Kaleidoscope news, articles, images, & reviews you want at the Pulsating Dream website.


Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for your blog, lots of very interring and good comments also.
Note : there is another Kaleidoscope album released in the late 80's (postcard from Kartoonistan with most of original members (apart from Lindley)
Do you know it, do you want it ? I got it, let me know

neffirg said...

Thanks, but the Beacon From Mars link is not working.

The Irate Pirate said...

i have never heard Postcard from Kartoonistan. I would love it, thank you.

Beacon From Mars is re-posted. link updated.

neffirg said...

Thanks for the repost, Mr. Pirate

Anonymous said...

Hello Irate Pirate,
I've checked the disc at home and the real title is Greetings from Kartoonistan.
I am happy to send it to you but tell me how do you want me to do it. By the way, I'm living in France (south), do you have a private e-mail eventually ?

The Irate Pirate said...

i've posted my email address in my profile. hopefully it will not generate too much spam.

or you could just upload it to a file hosting service and post the link in the comments here.

I love the south of France. I will try to go there when I go travelling this summer.

Thanks, anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately Lost In Tyme is no more (very sad!) and so is the link for Kaleidoscope - Pulsating Dream: The Epic Recordings,
could yo re-up?

member said...

thanks for this very exiting blog...
i found the pulsating boxset on
I love this blog and maybe you like ours to
here we post just our own music for free...
maybe you like some of our music
all the best

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for gathering together the links to these wonderful albums. Sadly, the Lost-In-Tyme blog is no more, so the links to 'When Scopes Collide' and the marvellous 'Pulsating Dream' boxed set are gone, too.

HOWEVER, I've found the boxed set on another blog: Orexis Of Death. Here's the URL:

3CDs ripped at 256kbps, artwork included:

Enjoy them while you can!

MUERTE said...

Your blog is awesome. I could spend hours just reading all the detailed information. So you know, the links for Side Trips and Incredible! are down, as it appears the blog you got them from is no more.