Various Artists – Follow Me Down: Vanguard’s Lost Psychedelic Era (1966-1970)

January 01, 1970



To the causal observer, Vanguard’s psychedelic legacy might
seem far less apparent than the label’s storied folk imprint, and yet even such
icons as Jerry Jeff Walker (a member of the legendary Circus Maximus) and the
Allman Brothers (whose drummer, Butch Trucks, helped found The 31st of February) played early roles in that trajectory. Still, much of the music
compiled on the cheerily-titled  Follow Me Down doesn’t qualify as
“psychedelic” in the strictest sense, but rather a heavy metal mesh as vaguely
defined by that era.


With the exception of The Vagrants’ Doors-like invocation,
“I Can’t Make a Friend” (featuring an embryonic Leslie West), and Elizabeth’s
swirly echo of the Jefferson Airplane, “You Should Be More Careful,” there’s
nothing particularly mind-altering about any of these offerings. Quaint as they
are, most would simply qualify as relics, both in literal and thematic terms.
The band names clearly suggest some drug-altering undertones, particularly when
it comes to hazy monikers like Notes From the Underground, The Far Cry, The
Third Power and so forth. Various song titles also back up this assertion,
among them, “Where I’m At,” “Stoned Is,” “Persecution” and “I Can Understand
Your Problem.” Weighed down by heady concerns, they carry dark designs and a
prevailing sense of doom and gloom, especially compared to the giddier entries
occupying the airwaves these days. Naturally, pretension also runs rampant,
forcing forgiveness towards the Frost for nicking “Eight Miles High” in their
loosely frenzied “Take My Hand,” and the Family Apostolic for relying on radio
sound bites as special effect in their cryptic “Saigon Girls.” 


All in all, it’s an interesting crop of curios, an archival
mishmash worthy of at least a cursory encounter.


Can’t Make a Friend” (The Vagrants); “Stoned Is” (Listening) LEE ZIMMERMAN




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