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Monday, July 5, 2021

The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - Vol. 2 (1967) [Mono Mix]

The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - Vol. 2

Original 1967 Mono LP Mix
2017 Jackpot Records JPR 039 (Discogs)
~ThePoodleBites rip at 96kHz/24bit FLAC + full high-res scans!~

If you were to ask three different guys what their favorite West Coast Pop Art LP is, you'd probably get three different answers. By and large, WCPAEB remains one of the most well-known psychedelic rock bands from the L.A. scene (that is, well-known to those who care about such things), and although their album output was quite consistent, none of their records have really stood up as the timeless masterpieces you'd expect given the hype; nonetheless, like all experiments, some are unsuccessful, while others are breakthroughs. The band's second major-label offering, aptly titled Vol. 2 (also Volume II or Volume Two (Breaking Through), depending on where you look), features some of their best tracks, namely "Smell Of Incense," "Suppose We Give A War And No One Comes," and the less-oft-mentioned "Carte Blanche," but otherwise remains relatively inconsistent, for me. Nonetheless, those tracks justify having this album on my shelf in both its stereo and mono forms.


With a band name like this, you immediately get an idea of what to expect from this album. There are elements of experimental music, folk ballads, and of course fuzzed-out acid explosions. The style is admittedly quite varied, which is a plus, but the lyrical content on this album was strongly influenced by bankroller Bob Markley, and frequently ventures into creepy territory -- and not in a good way: it feels like reading a precursor to Nabokov's Lolita while listening to a talented group of guys try their best to make weird, haunting pop songs. Here are some of the my favorite cringe-worthy lines:

"This is an African tribal chant that we wrote" -- spoken by a bunch of white American hippies

"You have a perfectly round tongue... Let me in, let me in! I'll give you candy." -- proclaimed by an emphatic Markley

"You're too young, you're just a child... when you're older, there'll be a place for us" -- oh, God...

"I'd take her riding on my BSA" -- with "BSA" pronounced suspiciously like "penis, eh?"

Several vocals are pretty weak and even a bit out-of-tune, but with the major-label engineering, it was dealt with properly: for example, "Smell Of Incense" wisely used double-tracking with lots of reverb, working to good effect. At the very least, this is a unique LP which has earned its spot in history as a representation of the experimentation that the '60s music scene seems to have come to embody.

Back cover artwork, with Bob Markley's stare occupying most of the real estate


This dedicated mono mix has never (yet) been reissued digitally, which is a bit of a curiosity.  I heard through the grapevine a couple years back that a mono CD boxset was in the works, but it still hasn't appeared, so... here's this. The mono does offer better balance than the stereo version, typical of this period. I bought this reissue a couple years after it came out, and was pleasantly surprised at how excellent it sounded. The audio was sourced from the original 15ips 1-track (mono) mixdown master tape, though probably with some (high-resolution?) digital intermediary. The mastering is pleasant, and the pressing quality is totally superb. It's one of the best reissues I've bought in the last few years. The original might sound better -- but I suspect that it could also sound worse, with the high-end roll-off and inner-groove distortion expected from a '60s mono pop LP. Note that the original mastering notes pictured above call for "HP 55 | LP 12.5," meaning for a high-pass filter at 55 Hz and a low-pass at 12.5 kHz, which isn't that much better frequency response than AM radio.

My dub is from this album's virgin playing, and a full manual restoration only took the matter of a few hours. There is a little bit of noise here and there which is actually on the master, which I left intact: "The Arena" has some audible static, and the baby crying at the end of "Suppose They Give A War" seems to have been dubbed from an LP itself, so there's some light clicks there. I won't enumerate the rest, but you can rest assured that this restoration represents as closely as possible the sound of the mono master tapes as is currently available.


Track Listing:

1) In The Arena -- 4:13
2) Suppose They Give A War And No One Comes -- 3:41
3) Buddha -- 2:09
4) Smell Of Incense -- 5:49
5) Overture - WCPAEB Part II -- 1:32
6) Queen Nymphet -- 2:21
7) Unfree Child -- 4:00
8) Carte Blanche -- 2:45
9) Delicate Fawn -- 2:31
10) Tracy Had A Hard Day Sunday -- 4:27

Vinyl Condition: Mint (virgin playing)
Dynamic Range: DR12

Equipment Lineage:
– Audio-Technica VMN40ML stylus on AT150MLx dual moving-magnet cartridge
– Audio-Technica AT-LP1240-USB direct drive professional turntable (internal stock preamp/ADC removed)
– Pro-Ject Phono Box S2 Ultra preamp with dedicated Zero Zone linear power supply
– Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 MkII (96kHz / 24bit)
– Adobe Audition CC 2020 (recording)
– iZotope RX 7 audio editor (manual declicking, EQ subtraction, additional adjustments)
– Audacity 2.3.3 (fades between tracks, split tracks)
– Foobar2000 v1.5.1 (tagging, dynamic range analysis)

Full album available on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPoPP_61RIc

Thanks for taking the time to read my posts and check out my blog. I'd greatly appreciate it if you leave a small comment below. Notes from my readers are what inspire me to keep going. Thanks!
MEGA: https://mega.nz/folder/ilUyTTxA#6UNb176HthYNb8fN61t8tA

Enjoy! :)

16 comments:

  1. Spent only a few hours on restoration, sure, but that's more than this awful band and Bob deserved, and it still sounds fantastic. Great rip, those songs you mentioned were pretty good too.

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  2. Thanks for this. The best LP, of course, is the Child's Guide. On this LP I find myself skipping some of the weaker tracks on side 2.

    Whenever you find a band biography, there seems to be some caginess concerning Markley post WCPAEB. There are hints but nothing definite. Agreed on the less savoury parts. The lyrics to several tracks concern young girls and they are creepy as hell. I can forgive the "tribal chants" because naivety and hippies seem to go hand in hand and are typical for the period but singing about nymphets... oh dear!

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    Replies
    1. I like some tracks off Child's Guide (esp. the title track), but it's still inconsistent for me (e.g., "Our Drummer...," which enters familiar cringe territory). I read the mono is a fold, so I didn't buy the Jackpot -- but, I've therefore also never heard it to verify.

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  3. Even if i mostly like L.A. bands (from the classic ones like Love, The Doors, The Music Machine, The Seeds, The Standells to the more underground heavy psych scene that was active between 1967 and 1972 with Fields, The Hook, Stack, Supachief, Alice Cooper, Lee Michaels and so on), i'm also one of the guys that aren't so fond of the WCPAEB, even if they had excellent songs, but between their inconsistency and the disturbingly cringy lyrics of the pedoguy Bob Markley is something that really made me lose a lot of the interest in this band, but anyway, thanks for this one!

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  4. thank you for your hard work! funnily enough i found this the weakest of the first 3 and my very favourite is the 4th one on amos records "where's my daddy", particularly for the track "my dog back home", but like i said, THANK YOU!

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    Replies
    1. Actually the Amos one is the 5th one. Prior to the Reprise 3 there was another on Fifo - Vol 1, which was reissued on Sundazed. Confusingly, the first Reprise one was called Part One.

      The Fifo release is very much a garage band affair.

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    2. I could never get into that (rare) Fifo LP, which is a half-baked garage record. The pedophiliac artwork on "Where's My Daddy?" is also too off-putting for me.

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  5. Just lovely. Thanks for this, TPB!

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  6. My god, thank you for the rip. This one has been on my list for a long time.

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  7. Many thanks for this masterpiece, I love every TWCPAEB release, but this LP is my fave. Many thanks for share!!

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  8. I haven't heard this record in many years. Time to give it a spin. Thanks very much!

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  9. extraordinary stuff (as always!).
    thanks a lot for the great rip and the scans (!!!) :-)

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