Psychedelic-Rock'n'roll: The Mandrake Memorial - Puzzle (PSYCHEDELIC ROCK MASTERPIECE US 1969)

24 June 2009

The Mandrake Memorial - Puzzle (PSYCHEDELIC ROCK MASTERPIECE US 1969)


In 1969 harpsichord player "Michael Kac" (from "Michael Kac" interview: "...We got a visit one day from a sales rep for a company called Rocky Mount Instruments, which had recently created a prototype instrument that could electronically simulate the sound of a harpsichord but at a volume level that made it usable in a rock context. Would we be interested in trying it out? What did we have to lose? Sure, we said...") had left the "Mandrake Memorial" due to musical differences.
As a three piece, "Mandrake Memorial" went to England to record an LP with "Shel Talmy" as producer.
They had a tour set up in England, but weren't allowed to play due to some union disagreement that was going in 1969 between England and American groups.

The "Mandrake Memorial" went back in US and released in the fall of 1969 their third and final album "Puzzle" produced by "Ronald Frangipane".
From the opening track "Earthfriend Prelude" and throughout this magnificent artistic album, "Puzzle" blends tripped out orchestral experimentation with quasi-religious music.
"Puzzle" is really a mood piece, with plenty of strange moments including one track devoted to a choir of children praying while "Whisper Play" has, you guessed it, whispers amongst a classical backdrop.

Mandrake Memorial post-Puzzle single: "Something In The Air" / "Musical Man", Poppy Records 690103, 1969

"Randy Monaco" croons throughout the album and there is the occasional guitar freakout, one heard at the end of the 9 minute instrumental "Bucket Of Air".
The reoccurring theme, "Just A Blur" is a nice, short trip piece of acoustic music that hints at a concept.
"Ocean's Daughter" is another great, menacing song, being a Psychedelic ballad with studio trickery and light orchestration.
The song characterizes the album itself: confused, dark and unsettling on one hand but alluring and full of beauty on the other.
"Puzzle" is a masterpiece, one of the truly great concept Acid Psychedelic LPs on a major label" [PL].
The band also had a non-LP 45 around the time of "Puzzle": a version of the "Thunderclap Newman" hit "Something In The Air" / "Musical Man" (Poppy Records 690103, 1969).
After this single "J. Kevin Lally" left "Mandrake Memorial" and the group disbanded.



Anonymous said...

Fantastic !! Thank you very much.

Heavypsychmanblog said...

Great Classy top end Psychedelia

Love this one a lot

Rego, Diogo said...

Thanks for this marvelous job!
Awsome Blog! Loved it, i've been lookin for somethin like this a long time ago!
Keep up with the good job!

Best regards from a psychedelic music fan,
Rego, Diogo