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The Parable Of Arable Land / God Bless The Red Krayola And All Who Sail With It Vol. 1

Red Crayola

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Album Review

These two albums, recorded in 1967 and 1968, are the cornerstone of the Red Krayola legend and two of the most famous records in avant-garde '60s rock. Originally released on Lelan Rogers' fabled International Artists label (home to the 13th Floor Elevators and Bubble Puppy, among others), these albums are uncompromisingly weird artifacts that move right beyond psychedelic into "freakishly strange." Parable of Arable Land is the better-known of the two, having been recorded in a legendary one-day session where the core band (including singer/guitarist Mayo Thompson, bassist Steve Cunningham, and drummer Rick Barthelme, who would later gain considerably more fame as novelist Frederick Barthelme) invited a group of fellow travelers, including the Elevators' Roky Erickson, into the studio to record the "Freeform Freakouts" which appear between the proper songs. Of those songs, the almost punky "Hurricane Fighter Plane," with a squalling organ solo by Erickson, and the plain freaky "Pink Stainless Tail" are the highlights, but the whole thing is a sonic onslaught that makes Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica, its nearest point of comparison, sound downright normal. God Bless the Red Krayola and All Who Sail With It, recorded as a simple trio with new drummer Tommy Smith, is a much more straightforward album, and it's actually better than its more renowned predecessor. The 20 tracks, ranging from the four second (no kidding) "Listen to This" to the comparatively expansive "Green of My Pants," which just barely breaks the three-minute barrier, are simple enough that the utter weirdness of Thompson's lyrics really shines through. Surprisingly enough, some of the songs are downright catchy; the opening "Say Hello to Jamie Jones" moves along on a hushed Thompson vocal and a perky Cunningham bassline, sounding for all the world like a post-punk experiment from late-'70s London. This double CD, with better sound than the later Collectables single discs, is the best way to discover the Red Krayola; the merely curious may want to end their search here as well.

Biography

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '60s

The Red Crayola have spent most of their long and varied history as the Red Krayola. Under their original spelling, they were a Houston-based trio organized by Mayo Thompson in September of 1966, with Steve Cunningham on bass and Rick Barthelme on drums. They were signed to Lelan Rogers' International Artists label in 1967 and cut their first LP early that year, assisted by guests such as Roky Erickson (on organ), and Tommy Smith replacing Barthelme. The group's sound was one of the bolder, less...
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