Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Naked Angels [Soundtrack]dotdotdot
artworkThis is an odd soundtrack release on Frank Zappa's Straight Records (WEA) label. Aside from the instros and the nod to Davie Allan, it's notable for the guitarist on the sessions, Jeff Simmons. I first became aware of him in the second echelon San Francisco band Indian Puddin' and Pipe. Signed to Matthew Katz' management, they relocated to Seattle to play at his San Francisco Sound Ballroom in '68 or '69. They are featured on the ultra rare San Francisco Sound compilation (now reissued on CD). Simmons left the band after a year or so to form Easy Chair, a minimalist and lumbering art band that issued a one-sided 12 inch with three songs. One of tracks has remained of haunting interest to me. Called "Slender Woman," it's an epic paean that moves ever so slowly and dramatically in an almost metronomic way. Later, his solo LP was issued on Straight, before he eventually ended up in Zappa's band. All that aside, Naked Angels sports some unique music as only Simmons seems capable of creating. Two vocals, "Vegas Boogie" and "End Theme" are also here, both sounding much like Jeff Simmons' solo material in some ways.
Picks: Naked Angels Theme, Ride Into Vegas, Vegas Pickup, Cop Out, First Desert Ride, Rank, Boinin' (Third Ride), Scots Breath, Rat Grind, Bar Dream, Camper Scene, Toccata For Truck

Track by Track Review

Naked Angels Theme dotdotdotdot
Psych (Instrumental)

"Naked Angels Theme" is a lumbering biker fuzz riff rocker, inspired by Davie Allan, and psyched out with Jeff Simmons' classic guitar styling. It straddles the mid sixties biker sound and late sixties San Francisco psych sound, which usually have little in common. Groovy and ominous, especially when the two leads wander off in demented counterpoint.

Ride Into Vegas dotdotdot
Psych (Instrumental)

A fast-ish kind of jam with cheesy organ and psych noodling guitar. More of a filler than a song, "Ride Into Vegas" is not memorable, though it has its moments.

Vegas Pickup dotdotdot
Psych (Instrumental)

Intriguing percussion and a distant jazzy guitar noodle about in a scenic way. The riff is quite cool, and once the lead comes close enough, the track takes on an edgy and aggressive beat. Never melodic or much more than a riff, yet compelling.

Cop Out dotdotdot
Psych (Instrumental)

With a kind of "Ogden's Nut Gone Flake Tobacco" (Small Faces) meets Charles Lloyd feel, this short track sports spider-walk chord progressions and a haunted organ. Really quite interesting.

First Desert Ride dotdotdot
Psych (Instrumental)

This is an angular semi-jazzy blues jam with a Fillmore feel. A little pompous, but the textured rhythms keep in interesting.

Rank dotdotdot
Psych (Instrumental)

Never more than a jam, "Rank" employs smooth guitar and pumping bass and organ over a manic drum cadence. Much like a soundcheck at the Avalon Ballroom, "Rank" doesn't really gel as a song.

Boinin' (Third Ride) dotdotdot
Psych (Instrumental)

"Boinin' (Third Ride)" reminds me of Zephyr (Tommy Bolin) or Nectar, or maybe Vanilla Fudge without the operatic tendencies. A little spacy, and quite jammy.

Scots Breath dotdotdotdot
Psych (Instrumental)

Sax squonk, military cadence, and angular sounds. Much in the mold of the Amboy Dukes' rousing "Scottish Tea," this track blends psych and thematically Scottish styling to great effect. Really cool.

Rat Grind dotdotdotdot
Psych (Instrumental)

An odd and circulating riff runs in stereo, eventually yielding to the sort of guitar lines Simmons played in his early San Francisco band. Perhaps more genuinely San Francisco art rock than the others here, yet a little mechanical. You can hear why Frank Zappa liked his work.

Bar Dream dotdotdot
Psych (Instrumental)

Bar room piano, swirling psychotic sounds, and a kind of mental chewing gum insanity runs through "Bar Dream." A well titled piece.

Camper Scene dotdotdot
Psych (Instrumental)

Country bumpkin rhythms and percussion, piano tomfoolery, and playful guitar run amok in this fun track. Maybe a little reminiscent of the Youngbloods, though not that fluid.

Toccata For Truck dotdotdot
Psych (Instrumental)

Semi-clasical piano circulates below drama and moody production. Organ adds a sense of loss. "Toccata For Truck" reminds me of early ELP.