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Texas is known for its oil, guns and country music. But, strangely enough, the Lone Star State has also produced some of the most charismatic figures on the leftfield of music. Look no further than 13th Floor Elevator Roky Erickson or Tim Polyphonic Spree. One who may have escaped your notice, however, is Mayo Thompson, lead singer of the group The Red Krayola. Like their contemporaries [a]Velvet Underground[/a], this band appeared out of nowhere to become astonishingly influential. Their 1967 debut, ‘The Parable Of Arable Land’, is a druggy miasma of psychedelic-free-jazz-proto-noise which still excites today.
Thompson and his band played a key role in the development of post-rock but he has always remained on the fringes of the mainstream, making only occasional appearances in the straight world (producing Primal Scream‘s debut album and early electronic act Cabaret Voltaire). ‘Singles: 1968-2002’ is a collection of The Red Krayola’s non-album tracks from their 30-year career. It gives a good picture of their changing moods: from the stoned humour of ‘Woof’ in 1970, to the post-punk years of jerked-out jams, to their recent rediscovery by the Chicago illuminati – [a]Avril Lavigne[/a] and others – who produced the pretty abstract electronica of ‘Come On Down’ and the industrial-strength arcade video noises of ‘Stink Program’.
If [a][/a] and pink hair no longer pisses off your parents and neighbours, play this weirdness loud and they will hate you but secretly admire your cleverness. A fitting tribute to an underground legend.