THE SEEDS-A WEB OF SOUND.

The Seeds-A Web Of Sound.

Label: Ace Records.

When The Seeds were formed in Los Angeles in early 1965 by Sky Saxon, Daryl Hooper, Jan Savage, Jeremy Levine and Rick Andridge nobody had any idea just how influential the nascent garage band would be. Over the next four years, The Seeds released five albums, enjoyed four hit singles and pioneered mid-sixties garage rock and acid rock. The Seeds are nowadays regarded as one of the original freakbeat bands, who also coined the term “flower power” and paved the way for punk rock a decade later. However, by 1969 The Seeds were no more, with the latest lineup of the band deciding to call time on their career. It was the end of an era for an influential and innovative band who left behind a rich musical legacy.

This include The Seeds sophomore album A Web Of Sound which was released in October 1966, and was recently released on vinyl as a two LP set by Big Beat, an imprint of Ace Records. A Web Of Sound was the followup to The Seeds which had been released just six months earlier in April 1966. The Seeds was the album which had launched the band’s career, now they hoped to build on that success with their sophomore album A Web Of Sound.

It was hard for The Seeds to believe that their musical adventure had only started a year earlier when the five young musicians founded the band in LA. The Seeds were founded in 1965 and featured charismatic vocalist Sly Saxon who was by far the most experienced member of the band. 

He had been a professional musician since the late-fifties and had been releasing singles as Richie Marsh since the early sixties. Sly Saxon who came from Salt Lake City, had moved to Los Angeles to further his musical career. However, he had been treading water until he saw an advert in 1965 looking for musicians to join a new band. This Sly Saxon hoped might be the breakthrough he had been looking for. That proved to be the case, and after an audition Sly Saxon became The Seeds vocalist. 

With the lineup of The Seeds finalised, the new band spent time honing their sound. Soon, though, they made their first tentative steps onto LA’s live scene where they secured regular gigs at the Los Angeles nightclub Bido Lito’s. The Seeds were a popular draw with music fans flocking to the venue to see this new band’s high octane performance. Already The Seeds were making their mark on the LA music scene.

Not long after that, The Seeds recorded what would become  their debut single Can’t Seem To Make You Mine. With the recording complete, charismatic frontman Sly Saxon started trying to interest record labels in the song. Mostly, it was a case of thanks but no thanks, until he entered the offices of GNP Crescendo Records. They listened to the song and promised Sly Saxon they would get back to him. By then, he and the rest of The Seeds knew not to get their hopes up.

This time it was different, with GNP Crescendo Records getting back to Sly Saxon and telling him how much they liked the song. Not only did they like Can’t Seem To Make You Mine, but they wanted to take The Seeds back into the studio and rerecord it with Marcus Tybalt.

The Seeds agreed and headed into the studio with Marcus Tybalt, where they rerecorded Can’t Seem To Make You Mine. It was then released by Crescendo and picked up by Santa Monica based radio station KBLA. Soon, other radio stations had picked up on Can’t Seem To Make You Mine, and this future cult classic became a regional hit in Southern California. After just a few months together, already The Seeds already had a regional hit single to their name which was a dream come true for the band.

While The Seeds celebrated the success of Can’t Seem To Make You Mine, guitarist Jeremy Levine announced that he was leaving the band for personal reasons. This was a huge blow for The Seeds who looked as if they were on the verge of making a breakthrough. 

With The Seeds now a quartet, they returned Los Angeles’ vibrant live scene, where people were starting to take notice of this, new up-and-coming band who had just scored a hit with Can’t Seem To Make You Mine. By then,  The Seeds’ popularity was rising and they became a firm favourite of audiences across LA. They were impressed by The Seeds’ high octane, energetic performances as they showcased the new garage rock sound that they were pioneering.

The Seeds.

Although The Seeds spent much of their time playing live, they were already working on their eponymous debut album. Frontman Sly Saxon had dawned the role of The Seeds’ songwriter-in-chief and had penned ten of the twelve tracks that featured on The Seeds. He also wrote Evil Hoodoo with Daryl Hooper and penned No Escape with Jan Savage and Jimmy Lawrence. These twelve tracks were recorded at Columbia Studios, in Hollywood.

At Columbia Studios, Sly Saxon co-produced The Seeds with Marcus Tybalt who had masterminded their debut single Can’t Seem To Make You Mine. When the recording sessions began, drummer Rick Andridge wasn’t  joined in the rhythm section by vocalist Sly Saxon who it was thought played bass on The Seeds recordings. Instead, Daryl Hooper who played keyboards, organ melodica and piano, laid down the bass parts using a bass keyboard. Meanwhile, Jan Savage took charge of the bass parts on The Seeds. Eventually, The Seeds had completed their much-anticipated eponymous debut album which would be released by GNP Crescendo Records.

In April 1966, The Seeds were just about to release their eponymous debut album The Seeds. Critics on hearing The Seeds were won over by this classic-in-waiting. The Seeds featured an irresistible fusion of fuzzy guitars, bubbling Hammond organ and Sly Saxon’s vocal which seems to have been inspired by everyone from Mick Jagger to Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran. When The Seeds was released, it was to plaudits and praise, and nowadays, the album is regarded as a garage rock classic. Indeed, many critics believe that The Seeds is the finest garage rock album ever released. 

On its release, The Seeds sold well and reached 132 in the US Billboard 200. Meanwhile, a decision was made to reissue Pushin’ Too Hard which had been released in 1965. While it failed to chart first time round, this time, Pushin’ Too Hard reached thirty-six in the US Billboard 100 and forty-four in Canada. Later in 1966, Can’t Seem To Make You Mine was also reissued and reached forty-one in the US Billboard 100 and thirty-three in Canada. Things were looking good for The Seeds, as their thoughts turned to their sophomore album A Web Of Sound.

A Web Of Sound.

By the time The Seeds began work on A Web Of Sound, they had been working tirelessly since early 1965. They were now a familiar face and favourite on LA’s live scene. All The Seeds hard work was paying off and they had established a reputation as one of the most innovative bands of the mid-sixties. The Seeds were known to push musical boundaries to their limits as they created music that was best described as eclectic. Despite that, many people still referred to The Seeds as a garage band. However, The Seeds added elements of acid rock, proto-punk and psychedelia to their music. Their sophomore album A Web Of Sound was going to be a very different album to The Seeds.

Just like their debut album The Seeds, Sly Saxon was songwriter-in-chief on A Web Of Sound. On Tripmaker and Rollin’ Machine, the mysterious Marcus Tybalt was credited as one of the songwriters. However, this was just an alias of Sly Saxon who wrote Mr. Farmer, I Tell Myself, Rollin’ Machine and Up In Her Room. Sly Saxon and Darryl Hooper teamed up to write Pictures and Designs, Tripmaker and A Faded Picture. The pair then wrote Just Let Go with Jan Savage. These eight tracks were recorded during July 1966.

The Seeds recorded A Web Of Sound at RCA Victor and Columbia Studios in Hollywood. The sessions started on the ‘5th’ of July 1966 with Sly Saxon using the alias Marcus Tybalt taking charge of production. This time around, drummer Rick Andridge was joined by Harvey Sharpe who was brought onboard for the A Web Of Sound. Completing the rhythm section was Jan Savage who laid down all the guitar parts. Darryl Hooper switched between celeste, organ and piano, while vocalist Sly Saxon added percussion and played piano. After twenty-four days A Web Of Sound was completed on the ‘29th’ of July 1966. It was a very different album to their debut The Seeds.

Critics on hearing A Web Of Sound, realised just how far The Seeds had come in a relatively short space of time. In just six month, their music had progressed, and it looked as if The Seeds were going to match their LA based contemporaries like The Doors and Love every step of the way. That was the case with A Web Of Sound, which was an album of two very different sides.

A Web Of Sound marked the start of a new chapter in The Seeds career, as they broadened their musical horizon on what was a much more eclectic album. The Seeds incorporated elements of acid rock, blues, garage rock, proto punk and psychedelic rock on album that was embraced by the hippies. They were won over by A Web Of Sound which they believed was an unconventional album that featured open-ended songs which appealed to their mindset. These songs eschewed the carefully plotted thoughts and didacticism of the majority of songs on the charts, and left plenty of room for interpretation. The Seeds songwriter-in-chief Sly Saxon was an unlikely hero for the hippies.

Side One.

Sly Saxon and the rest of The Seeds took the hippies on a walk on the wild side during A Web Of Sound. It opened with light-hearted and almost joyous proto-psychedelia of Mr. Farmer, where washes of swirling organ helps drives the arrangement along as Sly Saxon struts his way through the song, as he revels in his role as frontman. It’s a similar case on the stomping psychedelic garage rock of Pictures and Designs. Sly Saxon unleashes a vampish vocal powerhouse as cascading keyboards reminiscent of those on Pushing Too Hard play a leading role in the sound and success of the song. 

Tripmaker features a driving, gritty,, genre-melting arrangement that incorporates elements of garage rock, psychedelic rock and proto punk. That is the perfectly description of Sly Saxon’s swaggering vocal, which must have influenced a generation of punks a decade later. Here, The Seeds don’t take themselves too seriously, briefly  adding sound effects to a mix that features blistering guitars, keyboards as drums that power the arrangement along. The result is a fist pumping anthem that straddles disparate genres. 

Suddenly, it’s all change on I Tell Myself where a heartbroken Sly Saxon tries not to reveal his sensitive side as he spits out a bravado fuelled  and emotive vocal. Meanwhile, washes of weeping guitar are added to the genre-melting arrangement which features elements of acid rock, blues, garage rock, proto-punk and psychedelia. They play their part in this heady and potent musical brew that shows another side to The Seeds’ music. It’s a similar case on A Faded Picture, where  the tempo drops and Sly Saxon sounds not unlike Mick Jagger on this slow, bluesy and lysergic soul-baring song which is one of the most underrated songs The Seeds recorded. 

Quite different is the jaunty Rollin’ Machine which canters along as washes of bluesy guitar give way to keyboards and washes of swirling and bubbling Hammond organ. Meanwhile, Sly Saxon delivers the lyrics to this latest open-ended song which were embraced by the hippies. Later, a searing, fuzzy guitar is added as this cinematic fusion of acid rock, blues and psychedelia takes shape and showcases just how versatile, innovative and imaginative The Seeds were by the time they released A Web Of Sound.

Side Two.

The second side of A Web Of Sound opened with the cinematic sounding psychedelia of Let Her Go. It finds Sly Saxon unleashing a needy, pleading vocal as the arrangement veers between mesmeric to driving. By then,  Jan Savage has unleashed his fuzzy guitar which gives way to the swirling Hammond that adds a progressive sound. They play their part in an arrangement that is a perfect foil to Sly Saxon’s vocal which later, becomes an urgent, hopeful powerhouse.

Up In Her Room which closes A Web Of Sound, is a near fifteen-minute epic, with lyrics that hints at sex and drugs which were no longer taboo subjects. This after all, was the beginning of an era when free love and experimenting with drugs was seen almost regarded as de rigueur. However, during Up In Her Room The Seeds enjoy the opportunity to stretch their legs and experiment musically. To do this, they deploy a bottleneck guitar, electric fuzz-bass, Fender Rhodes and tambourine which combine with the drums that provide the heartbeat. Over the next fifteen minutes, The Seed push musical boundaries to their limits and fuse disparate genres on this epic musical workout. It’s another reminder of just how versatile and innovative The Seeds were on a track that signalled the start of a new chapter in The Seeds’ story.

That however, isn’t the end of the story of Big Beat’s reissue of A Web Of Sound. On The second LP are eleven other tracks that include the single version of Mr. Farmer and the single edit of the fifteen minute opus Up In Her Room. There’s also alternate takes of Pictures and Designs, Rollin’ Machine, A Faded Picture and the mono mix of Trip Maker. Welcome additions are alternate takes of The Wind Blows Your, Dreaming Of Your Love and Out Of The Question. They’re the perfect companion to A Web Of Sound on this lovingly curated two LP set which was recently reissued by Big Beat, an imprint of Ace Records. It’s the perfect way introduce a new audience to this cult classic, A Web Of Sound.

When A Web Of Sound was released in October 1966, the album wasn’t a commercial success initially. This changed after the reissue of Pushin’ Too Hard gave The Seeds another hit single. Suddenly, record buyers started investigating The Seeds’ sophomore album A Web Of Sound which had slipped under the radar. While it sold reasonably well, A Web Of Sound was a cult album that failed to replicate The Seeds. It was only later that A Web Of Sound would be embraced by a much wider audience.

By then, critics, cultural commentators and record buyers realised that A Web Of Sound was a stepping stone for The Seeds, as their sound continued to evolve on their third album Future. 

While The Seeds had pushed musical boundaries to their limits on The Seeds and A Web Of Sound, they blew these limits away on Future. The result was a mind-blowing fusion of psychedelia, garage, rock and pop that veered towards jazz and soul.Eclectic doesn’t even come close to describing Future. It’s a minor classic that is a long way from The Seeds roots as a garage band. However, listening to A Web Of Sound it’s obvious that The Seeds were in the process of changing.

Although the basis for many of the songs on A Web Of Sound is garage rock, there’s much more to the album that than. Garage rock was part of The Seeds’ recipe, as they added elements of acid rock, demonic blues, proto-punk, psychedelia. The result was a heady and potent musical brew that showcased a truly talented and versatile band who were musical pioneers. That had been the case since they released The Seeds in April 1966.

Six months later, when The Seeds released A Web Of Sound it was as if they had  let their imagination run riot as they created an album of groundbreaking, inventive and innovative music. Sometimes, The Seeds fused disparate genres that under normal circumstances shouldn’t have worked together. However, The Seeds were no ordinary band, and this talented band of musical mavericks led by songwriter, producer and vocalist Sly Saxon, they recorded the cult classic Web Of Sound in less than a month.

During July 1966, musical magpies The Seeds, collect musical genres and influences which are added to their lysergic melting pot. All that is left is for The Seeds, especially producer Sly Saxon to add some secret ingredients. A Web Of Sound was then left to cook for twenty-four days and nights. When this musical melting pot was removed from the musical oven, the world were introduced to the most ambitious, eclectic and innovative album of The Seeds’ short career, A Web Of Sound. It featured songs about sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll as Sly Saxon sometimes strutted his way through songs, and other times, preached to converted on A Web Of Sound which was a pioneering and unconventional album that showcased the different sides to The Seeds, who were  much more than a garage band. 

The Seeds-A Web Of Sound.

1 Comment

  1. Sly Saxon – RIP.

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