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Transparency

Sky Saxon

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Album Review

Transparency by Sky Saxon is the kind of elaborate musical statement in a deluxe CD/DVD package that the garage rock legend truly deserves, the wise old sage pictured in a circular rainbow of colors placed behind him on a white background for the disc cover, a superb wraparound for this major work from the intuitive lead singer of the Seeds. "You Gotta Ride" sounds like the Doors, a place not foreign to Sky Saxon (see Raw & Alive: The Seeds in Concert at Merlin's Music Box for more details on that), and if more proof is necessary, check out the Morrison-esque aspects of "Daytime Girl" or "Little Red Book," the latter of which could be an uptempo pop version of "When the Music's Over," except that some light and fluffy Vanity Fare riffs pop in over the dark vocal (Frank Zappa would totally approve). "Walk Along" is fun, obscured philosophy à la Willie "Loco" Alexander's "Pup Tune" if it were toned down a few tempos, with off-key vocals about meeting a dog, going to heaven, and dogs somehow morphing into all your gods. The melody is very "Coney Island Baby" from Lou Reed — and this could be the post-Lou Reed Willie "Loco" Alexander version of the Velvet Underground in a battle of the bands with the Doors. "Alkazam" is a good sonic reenactment of the rainbow picture cover, Transparency sounding like the early Seeds meet Kraftwerk in the concrete jungle. "Lighter" cleverly mops the "Can't Explain" riff from the Who, itself a mutation of "Pushing Too Hard" (or vice versa), and throws in some cool eerie Who-styled backing vocals just for fun.

If 2004's Red Planet offered new glimpses of Sky Saxon's creativity, Transparency fulfills the promise in a striking and bold way — it's a total treat for fans of Saxon and the genres he represents. And when the Who don't offer enough chord changes to recycle, it is on to Chip Taylor and the Troggs for opening track "You Gotta Ride." Saxon's vocal is more Jim Morrison-soaked than the Phantom of Phantom's Divine Comedy, Pt. 1 fame, and with lots of theremin and Doors-ish phrasings and lyrics, the Seeds frontman proves he's actually the best choice to lead the Doors of the 21st Century. Manzarek and crew could have an entirely new direction by playing some of this inspiring and well-crafted music. "Space Ship" is a terrific ending to the audio version of this excursion: "Is it a bird, is it a plane.../Is it a f*cking seagull." The DVD, Sky Saxon Invades London: Live at the Dirty Water Club, is just as much fun if not more, with quasi-psychedelic motifs and some of the material from the audio CD performed on-stage, as well as the obligatory Seeds classics "Can't Seem to Make You Mine" and "Pushing Too Hard" as part of the 15 selections, along with interview footage. As Transformation was just that for Dave Davies, Transparency from Sky Saxon is the best new album from the Doors — not the Seeds — in decades, but more than that, it's a brilliant Sky Saxon package that his fans (and he) should be proud of. It's the post-glam Transformer in a world where Lou Reed's Transformer would probably be hard-pressed to emerge.

Biography

Born: 20 August 1937 in Salt Lake City, UT

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

After the breakup of the seminal psychedelic garage punk band the Seeds in 1969, frontman Sky Saxon (born Richard Marsh) embarked on an erratic solo career in between stints as a mystical guru in Hawaii. Much of his post-Seeds work fit the mold of a curious 1960s relic, a hippie acid casualty with a strong cult following, in the mold of Roky Erickson. Saxon began his career under the name Little Richie Marsh, performing sugary, doo wop-influenced teenage pop in 1962. Changing his name to Sky Saxon,...
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Transparency, Sky Saxon
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