Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Holy Ghost Reception Committee:# 9-The Collected Works

Just when I thought “Mass in F Minor” by Electric Prunes (aka David Axelrod) was the only Catholic concept album of the sixties, Hallucinations CDs reissues the beyond rare “Songs for Liturgical Worship” from 1967 and 1969’s “The Torchbearers” albums on one CD. (Both albums sound one to two years musically behind their original issue years.) With a trebly thin and chiming electric guitar strumming stark, yet endearing folk rock, “Songs for Liturgical Worship” sounds strikingly similar to the minimalist moments of “Volume One” by the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, psychedelic embellishments which echo “CQ” by the Outsiders, the hushed shadings of the Velvet Underground, along with some jangly Byrds-ish guitars and appropriate ringing bells characterize the sound of “The Torchbearers.” In contrast to those “Electric Prunes” staying in the sacred stained glass confines of the cathedral, HGRC: #9 were out in the secular sixties streets concerned about plight of the displaced, downtrodden and also the soulless plastic materialism of the suburbs. While the Kinks in “Well Respected Man” and the Turtles in “Suburbia” mocked and protested the similar hypocrisies of the problematic socio-economic structures and systems, HGRC: #9 called for the noble solutions of direct political activism and working for social justice. Indeed, this approach could had easily lead to a didactic and imposing self-righteousness, however the band simply offered new trails up a mountain paralleling the previous populist paths of the Jesuits and radical priest Daniel Berrigan (and very far above the corruption of the concealed institutional religious church). Overall, the recording captures an authentic somberness, world weariness and mournful sadness descending upon a generation trying to make sense of it all in an era scarred by the assignation of JFK, the maelstrom of the Vietnam War, burning cities/rivers, burnt-out lives and the impeding fate of MLK. With the current scandals and complacent reaction of the institutional church, severe capitalism running rampant, high unemployment and the perennial warfare, these hallowed hymns still offer relevant hope and mercy for a better world. (Void Records)

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