Damon - "Don't You Feel Me" (Forge Your Own Chains: Heavy Psychedelic Ballads and Dirges 1968-1974)
Traditionally, Now-Again (Stones Throw’s subsidiary reissue label run by Eothen “Egon” Alapatt) has focused on what would be called “funk” or “soul,” traditionally. Superficially, then, Forge Your Own Chains, a collection of thick, fuzzy, sweet-and-sour psychedelia, seems like a diversion. But, as Egon explains in the liners, this collection too arose from a basic hunger for beats. While he was bumping the eventual title track, a portentous anti-drug lament from forgotten Connecticut freak-brother D.R. Hooker, in walked producer J, Rocc, announcing, “there’s the loop, right there.”
And the beats are here in abundance. While many of these jams sound shticky and dated in context, they are all grounded in deep, rumbling rhythms that support their often-complex arrangements and justify their generally dour grandiosity. While its vibe is negative and melancholic, it’s a goldmine of loops with uncommon party-rocking potential.
The comp kicks off with “Song of a Sinner,” an 8-plus minute Jesus-y bummer from the Southeastern band Top Drawer, and while a few rays of sunshine peak through (e.g., “It’s Not Easy,” a scruffy electric pop nugget from Ofege, a group of Nigerian high-schoolers), the disc maintains a bleak, ominous mood. When so much of this brave, bizarre music is tainted with drippy boomer nostalgia, it’s nice to be reminded that this was the time of the Manson Family, LSD-inspired religious conversions, and pervasive global unrest.
And Forge Your Own Chains is global in scope, presenting well-nigh-forgotten selections from Colombia, Biafra, South Korea, Thailand, Iowa and Cleveland (check the Sensational Saints’ “How Great Thou Art,” another religious-themed burner interpolating Bill Withers’ unmistakable “Ain’t No Sunshine”).
A common thread tying together a few of the impossibly obscure tracks is Sweden’s Subliminal Sounds imprint, which caps off the proceedings with the blistering, Hendrix-derived “Somebody’s Calling My Name,” from the Baltics’ own brilliantly named Baby Grandmothers.