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The Paisley Tones

Happening – The Very Best of the Paisley Tones

Review by Gary Hill

Checking out the Paisley Tones' website I find that this group has been around pretty much forever. This disc is a compilation of some of their best stuff from their history all remastered and released for the first time on CD. Well, I have to confess to being completely ignorant about this 1960's group. That's sad, too, because this music was way ahead of its time. It transcends the boundaries of surf music and pulls it near the realm of prog and space rock. Their sound is purely instrumental and fun. Music Street Journal's own Bruce Stringer has something to do with this disc – his name is on the back cover as owning the rights to this particular recording. I feel too ignorant to ask him how I missed this band until now. I suppose I shouldn't feel too bad, though. A search at All Music Guide revealed nothing about this band, too. In any event, thanks, Bruce for bringing these killer recordings out into the light of day. For more information, including where you can get this, be sure to check out the group's website.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 3 at

Track by Track Review
Devil Stole My Surfboard
Frantic surf sounds that simply rock make this one up. I particularly enjoy the space rock sounds that emerge over the top of this.
The Private Eye
While this doesn't differ greatly from the track that came before it's got a killer crunch texture and I really enjoy the riff that makes up the basis for this one. The space rock sounds are missing here, but the guitar soloing is simply tasty as heck. This must have had the crowds up and dancing in the day.
Cat Fink
This may sound strange, but this track really reminds me a lot of some of Steve Howe's solo works. It's a killer rocker and one of the highlights of the disc. Since Howe was playing with Tomorrow when these guys were around, I guess it's safe to say that they were probably influenced by a lot of the same people.
Hood Rats
This reminds me a lot of the Ventures. I don't tell a lot of people this (guess the secret's about to be out) but I used to be a really big Ventures fan when I was a kid. I had all sorts of LP's and cassettes and used to listen to them non-stop. That was until I started discovering more modern rock music. Still, there remains a special place in my musical heart for that band, and this school of music. This is a fine example of that genre. I really love how they used the multiple layers on this, and some of the guitar soloing reminds me of the best Eric Clapton stuff.
Cruisin' With The Javelins
Percussion leads this one off. When it jumps in from there it's with a more early 1970's rocking sound. I can hear elements of The Animals and Booker T and the MG's on this one. It's definitely a nice change of pace and another killer jam.
They slow it down a bit for the bluesy intro to this one. When it powers out into the fast paced surf music I can't help but think of the theme from “The Munsters” for some reason. Visions of Dick Dale also dance in my head.
All The Happy Faces
As one might guess, this is a bouncy piece of happy sounding music that's pretty deeply rooted in a style best called “psychedelia meets bubble gum.” That is, until the guitar solos. Those things purely scream.
I'm reminded of Cream on this killer track. As one might guess, the guitar solos really steal the show here. I love the tasty fuzz sound, too.
Doctor X
This is a bouncy, rather bluesy number that's another highlight of the disc. I'd have to say that it might well be my favorite cut here due to the smoking bluesy guitar and classic riff.
The Prisoner
Surf music modes are back in play here. This is another good track, but doesn't stand as tall as some of the other material.
Ballad of a Space Cowboy
This cut is a little dark and shows off both some hints of cowboy music and some of the space rock sounds we heard earlier on the disc. Both of those are appropriate considering the title of this one. While tasty, this one goes on a bit long for my tastes.
Hey Hey (She's So Good)
And now for something completely different, this rocker has a great modern texture as it pounds in. It's one of the hardest rocking tracks on show here and also one of the highlights. It does include some more standard surf music, but also some rather proggy stuff. It's a great change of pace. The killer jam later in the track seems to have a definite classic 1970's feel to it. Talk about ahead of your time!
This has a great blues rock texture and is another strong cut. It's also another that does a lot to break the mold. It has a garage band sound on it, but also some tasty riffing.
The Happening
The Happening – A frantic rhythmic structure starts things off here. This one has a great sound that reminds me just a bit of The Guess Who. It's classic late 1960's early '70's rock that has some exceptionally tasty guitar work and a few interesting twists and turns. This thing really rocks and even has some Yesish changes at points. The exploratory segment that takes it late in the track is particular in that vein.
Blue Horizon
Here we get some great slide guitar based slowed down blues textures. This isn't heavy blues, but more like blues with a touch of country and space elements. It serves as a nice change, and actually reminds me a bit of early Pink Floyd at times. It's just not one of the standout tracks in my book.
Black Jack Blues
I hear Cream again on the intro to this one. Then it launches out into more of the surf music that the band seem so great at putting together. This is another strong rocker.
Once Upon A Time
In another change of pace, keyboards lead this one off. The group build up from there in a classic 1960's style. As the guitar begins to soar over the top, though, this feels much more modern, like Joe Satriani or someone in that vein. They drop it back to strumming little guitar over which the lead solos. It returns to the Satriani sounds after that, then moves into some new territory. This thing had to have been way ahead of its time when first released. It could really fit onto any number of instrumental prog albusm coming out today.
The Private Eye (Live)
As advertised, here we have a live version of the earlier piece. I'd look at this kind of like a bonus track.
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