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Psychedelic Velveeta

Randy and Al are two self-described "cheesy DJs" from Fargo having a great ol' time spinning psychedelic tunes on non-commercial KNDS-FM up on the cold and forlorn NoDak prairie.

On the their show, Psychedelic Velveeta, Randy is more of the "straight" man, if one can use that term in connection with a program whose stated goal is to take listeners "on a musical experience of neo-interplanetary space, in a groovy 3-Dimensional popcycle sort of way." He's the musician and record-geeky guy who seems to enjoy providing the nuts and bolts kind of info.

Al, meanwhile, is a little harder to describe. His voice reminds me of those kind of Minnesota-Wisconsin-Dakotas guys who are good-natured but whose idea of fun is disappearing into the woods with a case of Leinies and a rifle. You wonder if he's had a few too many when he makes these off-the-wall jokes whose punch lines seem to make sense only to him, followed by raucous laughter. Then he comes back and reels off a few dozen rock factoids that only a true scholar of the form would know.

One of the things I really like about Psychedelic Velveeta is that Randy and Al aren't afraid to mix in new psych bands along with the trippers of yesteryear, something that's absolutely vital for the survival of the species.

Here's a playlist of their Feb. 10, 2010 show:

1. Stanley Clarke, "Lopsy Lu."

From the fusionista's seminal eponymous 1974 album. Moog and funky bass. Was there ever a better combination for the blissful musical possibilities of the black-white 70s embrace? Rock and jazz mixing in a sea of racial tolerance and LSD.

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2. The Heavy Hills, "All Is Love 93."

Unsigned northern California band described by Impose Magazine as "a pysch outfit with a heavy edge that sounds like its guitar bodies are constructed from the trunks of giant sequoias."

3. Lou Reed, "Rock and Roll."

Randy and Al give us Sweet Lou's version of "Rock and Roll" from his 1983 RCA release Live in Italy. A truly smoking version of the classic. Lou was angrier than usual that night.

4. Tame Impala, "Half Full Glass of Wine."

Perth, Australia, "psychedelic hypno-groovers" who played this year's Big Day Out fest in Melbourne. "A favourite new band round these parts," says Aussie blogger Cashmere Misfit. "From Perth and signed to Modular (Records), these beauties have a sound that makes you want to munch your fill of sweet wine and mushrooms."


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5. Deep Purple, "My Woman From Tokyo."

Ritchie Blackmore, circa 1974: "I don't like funky soul music."

6. The Moles, "Half Baked."

I mean, it's one thing to be influenced by '60s music, but these unsigned British dudes from Bristol have stepped directly from the Haight-Ashbury into your ear. As they say: "The Moles have the telepathic ability to beam psychedelic music into receptive individuals frontal lobe. This music was made by utilizing this brainbeam. PRAISE THE MOLES. PRAISE THE INFINITE. PRAISE THE NEVER. PRAISE THE MOLE."

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7. Andre Williams, "Heard It Through the Grapevine."

Horns, strings and soul from Chicago's "Greasy Chicken" man, Andre Williams, who does a really funky instrumental version of "Grapevine," I'm assuming from his Checkers/Chess period in the late '60s. It was part of the 2006 compilation Movin' On With Andre Williams - Greasy & Explicit Soul Movers 1956 to 1970 from Vampisoul Records.

8. Screamin' Eric, "I Love It, I've Had It."

Eric is a Hives clone. But there's a big difference. He's Danish, not Swedish, dammit. Big plus: Participation of Lorenzo Woodrose.

9. New York Dolls, "Personality Crisis."

Randy: "That's what I'm experiencing today."

Al :"That does sound like us. Every week."

Randy: "Don't listen to him. He's lost in space."

10. Thighpaulsandra, "We the Descending."

A free-form, Zappa-ish, Krautrock-ish tour through the pretentionverse of the one-time Julian Cope multi-instrumentalist, complete with shouted lyrics about digging mass graves and more suction being needed. I guess they all make sense in a certain, um, state.

11. Strawberry Vile, "Black Black Trashcan."

A band that says it's from "IL/KY." I'm guessing Urbana, judging from a gig at the Caffe Paradiso. And I think it may be just one guy named DeathTram. Pretty raw, but verging on the interesting. Keep practicing, Death!

12. Biff, Bang, Pow! "There Must Be a Better Life."

Folksy, jangly Brit-psych from the Creation label maestro Alan McGee, from whose mind sprung My Bloody Valentine and many other dreamy early '90s U.K. trippers. Biff, Bang, Pow! were sort of the forerunners of the movement, so didn't get the attention they deserved. "Better Life" is their 1984 single, and it's a revelation to hear it again because it comes at a key '80s turning point, sort of the British response to R.E.M. Only with backwards guitars.

13. Volcano Playground, "Waiting."

Echoey, chanting vocals, droney organ chords, pounding drums. A Toronto band described by William McGuirk of Whitby/Oshawa This Week as "spacey shoe-gazing for a diorama of celestial cutouts clad in aluminum, creaking on a string, foam planets and candy-colored rocket ships." I am not kidding.

Al: "It's going to be getting down to minus 17 tonight."

Randy: "Alright! I can't wait. That sounds like a blast, doesn't it?"

Al: "A blast of something, I'm not sure."

Randy: "A blast of cold air up your pants."

14. Jeff Beck "Artist of the Week" set including "Freeway Jam," "The Pump," "Guitar Shop" and "What Mama Said."

Beck plays a Gibson Les Paul on "Freeway Jam" rather than his usual Strat, which ignites an in-studio Gibson-Fender argument. You just don't get this on commercial radio. On the instrumental "The Pump" you can hear the jazz-rock fusion in frightful full flower - this Beck opus is perhaps directly responsible for what Risky Business did to our great land. Keyboardist Jan Hammer gives the Fender Rhodes that crucial Miami Vice feel.

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You can subscribe to the Psychedelic Velveeta podcast here.

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From the Beachwood jukebox to Obama Radio, we have the playlists you need to be a better citizen of the Rock and Roll Nation.



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Posted on February 23, 2010


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - An Odd Call From Bermuda.
SPORTS - All Is Not Forgiven, Bears.

BOOKS - Turning Points Of The Civil War.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Baxter's IV Bag Shortages.


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