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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Red Crayola - The Parable Of Arable Land (1967) [Original Stereo Mix]

The Red Crayola with the Familiar Ugly — The Parable Of Arable Land (Wikipedia)
Original 1967 Stereo Mix
International Artists IA-LP-2 (Discogs)
~ThePoodleBites rip in 96kHz / 24bit FLAC + full high-res scans~

This record gets a mixed rap. Some people can't stand the cacophonous free-form moments, while others praise its totally raw and unique approach to psychedelia. I can certainly understand both sides but personally am a firm supporter of the massively stoned-out dark sounds found within unquestionably one of the freakiest album covers ever. When you share a record label with the 13th Floor Elevators, though, you could do pretty much anything and get overshadowed. At any rate, hopefully the 'heads who fancy this blog will appreciate the music here, which I recommend enjoying with a freshly-rolled joint and all the lights turned off. 

For those that know of it, this record needs no introduction. For those that don’t, it can come as a bit of a surprise. The fact that this record was released a month after Sgt. Pepper I find endlessly humorous: “… what the heck are those guys doing down in Texas?”

It is this record that really established a trend for the now-infamous International Artists label. As if inventing the genre of psychedelic rock wasn’t enough, this second album on the teal-colored label was arguably the beginning of noise rock, but still in quite a psychedelic sense. Of course, as with all the CD reissues of the 13th Floor Elevators, the Golden Dawn, Bubble Puppy, etc (on the Charly Records label), the sound quality is nothing like that of the original records, which can sell for exorbitant prices to the craziest collectors. But for some reason, this phenomenal album is somewhat overlooked today, perhaps being overshadowed by its peers.

There is something extremely academic and John Cage-ian about the Red Crayola (later Krayola out of legal necessity), which is likely why Joseph Byrd (of the United States Of America) cited them as an influence. The music is beautiful but cacophonous; International Artists undoubtedly saw the “gimmick” factor of the Red Crayola, and having Roky Erickson appear here certainly contributes to the legend. It’s quite amazing that the final “Free Form Freak-Out” here, before the album’s illustrious and colorful finale, has a primary musical instrument being the motorcycle engine. That sheer juxtaposition has to be one of the greatest moments in musical history.

"Stereo" sticker from the
original shrinkwrapping
In terms of the mono vs. stereo mix, it is best explained by Walt Andrus as quoted in Paul Drummond’s book Eye Mind: "Well, unfortunately I made the master in mono, and the stereo version I did by doing what we called 'miracle sound' where you make a copy of it and flange and get it a little out of phase, swoosh it around some."

Upon listening, it’s clear that that’s not the entire story, but is true; the “Free Form Freak-Out” sessions are all clearly sourced from the mono mix, although with modifications (added sounds, reverberation, tape flips/reversals, speed fluctuations); the beginnings of all non-Freak-Out tracks also appear to be mono-sourced, but then cut into what appears to be full stereo mixes. To call this “fake stereo” would be completely incorrect; the mono mix was made plain, and then extra Red-Crayola-esque-ness was added to heighten the final product. Whether that goal was accomplished or not, is up to the listener; but I am yet to find a version of this record that I personally enjoy as much as this freaky stereo.

I originally transferred this album awhile back from a worn-out copy that was heavily scratched. Earlier this year I sold that copy for a pretty penny and bought this M- copy for a penny three times as pretty. Rips of the mono mix are available, which is also a necessary version, although I actually prefer the stereo, I think. But, unfortunately the Sonic Boom remaster is hot trash! (Who decided that fool needed to be behind the board?) I spent many, many hours manually de-clicking and fixing occasional tape drop-outs so you can listen to this record in pristine quality, as usual.

The Red Crayola:
- Mayo Thompson (guitar & vocals)
- Steve Cunningham (bass guitar)
- Rick Barthelme (drums)
The Familiar Ugly: Frank Simmons, “Red George” Farrar, FRB Rapho, Jamie Jones, Elaine Banks, Carolyn (?), Barbara Metyko, Johndavid Bartlett, & others. Roky Erickson also appears on organ (“Hurricane Fighter Plane”) and harmonica (“Transparent Radiation”).

Track Listing:
01) “Free Form Freak-Out” 1:30
02) “Hurricane Fighter Plane” (“When the Ride Is Over You Can Go to Sleep”) 3:33
03) “Free Form Freak-Out” 2:24
04) “Transparent Radiation” (“Red Signs Out-Side, Which I Contain”) 2:32
05) “Free Form Freak-Out” 4:21
06) “War Sucks” (“You Remember What Happened to Hansel and Gretel”) 3:38
07) “Free Form Freak-Out” 3:09 08) “Free Form Freak-Out” 1:52
09) “Pink Stainless Tail” (“Seven Guest Are Quite Now, And Now Not Half So Much”) 3:16
10) “Free Form Freak-Out” 3:05
11) “Parable of Arable Land” (“And the End Shall Be Signaled By the Breaking of a Twig”) 3:06
12) “Free Form Freak-Out” 4:09
13) “Former Reflections Enduring Doubt” (“I Pass in a Rain That Is Always Too Soon”) 4:57

Vinyl Condition: M-
Dynamic Range: DR 10

– Audio-Technica AT150MLx Dual Moving-Magnet Cartridge
– Audio-Technica AT-LP1240-USB Direct Drive Professional Turntable (internal stock preamp/ADC removed)
– TCC TC-754 RIAA Phono Preamp (new regulated power supply, added LM7812 regulator)
– Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 MkII (96kHz / 24bit)
– Adobe Audition CC 2018 (recording)
– iZotope RX 6 Audio Editor (manual declicking, remove rumble, additional adjustments)
– Audacity 2.2.2 (fades between tracks, split tracks)
– Foobar2000 v1.3.17 (tagging, dynamic range analysis)

Enjoy, and please feel free to leave comments as usual. 🙂

Article from The Houston Chronicle, 18 Jan 1967


  1. Well that description sounds intriguing. Thank you for restoring and sharing :) I'll check it out!

  2. Thanks for the info. Amazing band, so underrated. Spacemen 3 brought me here with their version of Transparent Radiation.

  3. i really love this freaky stereo version!
    thank you for this great restauration :)

  4. I liked your other stuff and I am a 13th Floor fan, so I figured I would take you up on this. You do a lot of work on these and I at least appreciate it. Looks like you have nice equipment to do it with. I will try to remember to post after I listen. Thanks for this.

  5. A revelation from all the crappy reissues over the years - thank you!

  6. I came to Crayola via Spacemen 3, what a revelation. Thanks for your amazing service. Hope you're ok during these insane times.