Take a trip into your local independent record store – even a pretty shitty one – and odds are you’ll find at least a few reissues of psychedelic offerings from the 1960s. Nuggets, Pebbles and Back from the Grave are among the most popular compilation collections, but you’re also likely to come across (formerly) hard-to-find discs from the likes of the Remains, the Sonics, Creation and more. With so much “rare” psych cluttering up the shelves, there are plenty of shoddy-quality discs out there, but there are also plenty – Nuggets first and foremost – that have set the bar extraordinarily high.
So it’s a shame to say that the reissue of Kaleidoscope’s self-titled and only record falls into the former category, not least of all because of the lackluster sound quality throughout. Operating out of Mexico (though the band members came from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Spain) at the height of the psychedelic era, the platter packs some mean cuts filled with fuzzed-out, organ-fueled barn burners like opener “Hang Out” and “Colours.”
It should be noted that this Kaleidoscope is not to be confused with any of the others from the same era who went by that name, including the British Kaleidoscope whose stellar “A Dream For Julie” is featured on the Nuggets II box set. Regardless, the disc fits solidly into Nuggets territory. “Let Me Try” opens with a slow bass groove that builds to an ominous minor-key organ line that anchors the rest of the track. Similarly, the eight-minute long “Once Upon A Time There Was a World” has an ominous Kill Bill vibe, but the track is essentially an eight-minute song that only needed to be half that length (at best), in that it fails to really build upon any of the ideas presented at the outset and really make use of that extended run time.
In addition to the original 10 tracks, this reissue comes with a trio of bonus tracks, including the sinister “Cairo Blues,” which bests more than half the tracks on the original album, and the proto-BTO “Take It to the Limit.” In addition to just being quality tunes, they’re fairly well out of the psych realm, and they prove the band had more life in it than just as a psychedelic outfit.
But with only one album to their name, that’s essentially where you have to classify Kaleidoscope, and so this reissue has to be compared to the myriad of similar reissues. If the songs had more consistency to them or the sound quality was improved then it might be worth recommending, but that one-two punch is just too much, and it makes what could have been an exciting reissue into a fairly forgettable one.
by Aaron Passman