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Beauregard Ajax - Deaf Priscilla

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Artist: Beauregard Ajax

Album: Deaf Priscilla

Label: Shadoks

Review date: Jun. 30, 2006

The Shadoks/Normal contingent digs up yet another psychedelic rarity, continuing its fine service to music collectors everywhere. The question, as always, is why the album in question is a rarity because it's simply been impossible to find, or because nobody really needs it? After all, out of a hundred rare psych albums from the 60s, only a handful matter, while the others are pale imitations.

Beauregard Ajax hailed from southern California; the quartet formed in 1966, moved to Hollywood the following year, and gigged for a while after hooking up with producer Bob Keane. The band never really went anywhere, though, and broke up before releasing their album. The booklet, as is unfortunately common with Shadoks releases, is greatly wanting for band history, so further details are unknown to me. It sounds as though someone released a limited edition of the album at some point recently, and now Shadoks has done a proper reissue.

These songs are styled as a blend of 60s West Coast and British psych, particularly bands like Kaleidoscope and Syd-era Pink Floyd. The vocal chorus, jangling rhythm guitars and lightly-fuzzed lead guitar of "Is Tomorrow Thursday" are typical of the band's approach, a blues-based song a la Yardbirds with the same sun-drenched feel Gram Parsons and Quicksilver brought to their psych-pop.

The band's playing is quite good, with a strong rhythm section, generally confident vocals and some particularly nice, understated lead guitar work, though it's not clear whether it's by singer David Ferguson or John Boutell probably the latter. Oddly, the opening song, "Loneliness Is A Sometime Thing," has some of the weakest singing, a warbling around notes without settling. But later tracks show a good grasp of both pop vocalization and dreamy harmonies that put the band above the average 60s rock-pop outfit.

So the answer to the initial question is yes, Shadoks has done a good service by resurrecting this album from the dustbins of history. It's not going to change your life, but if you're following the story of West Coast psychedelia, Beauregard Ajax is a worthwhile chapter.

By Mason Jones

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