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Mushroom's first new set in three years, twelve new originals culminating in a cover of "Singing a Song in the Morning," co-written by Kevin Ayers of the Soft Machine and Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd in heady 1969, is an acoustic guitarist's dreamevery song strums and hums with its psychedelic, folksy sound. Mushroom's careening, psychedelic collective guitar approach sounds somewhat unaffected by the last four musical decades, and yet Naked, Stoned & Stabbed feels like a milestone for modern progressive guitar bands.
Naked, Stoned & Stabbed plays so cohesively from beginning to end that it might have been conceived and performed as one single piece, divided by its natural movements into tracks, and then each track arbitrarily given some whimsical title ("Celebration at Big Sur (The Sound of the Gulls Outside of Room 124)," for example). And while we're at it, we might wonder, with no disrespect intended, if Naked, Stoned & Stabbed is the psychological diary of a hallucinogenic experience.
In its current incarnation, Mushroom's cast of characters have played with such a wide variety of progressive musiciansGongzilla, John Cale, Crazy Horsethat it's almost hilarious. Naked casts Mushroom's stylistic net out even further with good bait. "Though You're Where You Want to Be, You're Not Where You Belong" shape-shifts into a country-jazz vamp that ebbs and flows into a hypnotic, vaguely menacing Velvet Underground drone. "All the Guitar Players Around Sean Smith Say He's Got It Coming, But He Gets It While He Can" echoes classic '70s acoustic sides by Hot Tuna, and rings out crystalline and pure. Hand percussion and bells twirl with guitars and other strings while "Tariq Ali" explores the spirituous world ethnomusicology of Oregon.
Laced with wah-wah and electric rhythm guitar spikes, swelling in and out of focus, "Take Off Your Face and Recover from That Trip You've Been On" seems the most obvious post in Naked's hallucinogenic diary. But it's hardly the only entry: Cycling riffs of bass and marimba form the wriggly spine of "Indulgence," which transports you deeply "Under the Spell." After "Walking Barefoot in Babylon" through a weird, brilliantly colored jungle of sound, "I'll Give You Everything I've Got for a Little Piece of Mind" scrambles your brains back into their proper omelet.
Track Listing: Infatuation; Celebration at Big Sur (The Sound of the Gulls Outside of Room 124); Jerry Rubin: He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother; All the Guitar Players Around Sean Smith Say He's Got It Coming, But He Gets It While He Can; Take Off Your Face and Recover From That Trip You've Been On; The Freak Folk Walk By Dressed Up for Each Other; Tariq Ali; Though You're Where You Want to Be, You're Not Where You Belong; Indulgence; Under the Spell; Walking Barefoot in Babylon; I'll Give You Everything I've Got for a Little Piece of Mind; Singing a Song in the Morning.
Personnel: Josh Pollock: acoustic guitar, ukulele, vocals and megaphone, production; Matt Cunitz: piano, organ, mini-moog, vako orchestron, pump organ, celesta, keyboards; Erik Pearson: flute, violin and effects, acoustic guitar, wah guitar, electric sitar, electric guitar, vocals; Ned Doherty: bass; Pat Thomas: drums, congas, percussion, bongos, cymbals, shakers; David Brandt: percussion, congas, bongos, vibes, kalimba, gongs, tambourine; Alec Palao: bass, dulcimer; Emery Dorgan: Farfisa organ; Tim Plowman: guitar; Sonya Hunter: vocals; Dan Olmstead: guitar; Wilson Whipple: acoustic guitar.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.