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Second Hand

Death May Be Your Santa Claus

Review by Gary Hill
The music on this disc is freaky stuff. It really does a great job of occupying the space between psychedelia and proto-prog. It's probably not for everyone, but what is, really? This is a new reissue (with bonus tracks) of an album from 1971. It's definitely an organ heavy release, but there are plenty of other things here to keep it interesting.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Death May Be Your Santa Claus

This launches right in with a jam that's part psychedelic rock and part ELP. As the vocal join, it has more of a rock and roll vibe, landing more along the lines of the psychedelic end of the spectrum. There is a switch to a freaky sort of prog groove from there. After that vocal segment we go out into some seriously freaky jamming for a bit before working back to the first vocal section. The cut continues by revisiting the various section. It's definitely freaky stuff.

Hangin' on An Eyelid

A more melodic keyboard section opens this. The cut works forward to a bit more mainstream prog before shifting to some rather circus styled music. From there we're taken out to something more along the lines of 1960s jazz rock. The cut keeps shifting and changing between the various styles. There is a cool classical piano dominated movement mid-track. Some other intriguing instrumental shifts and changes emerge, too. This has some killer instrumental work, really.

Lucifer and the Egg
The first section of this is much more of a rocker. I love the psychedelic rock meets prog sound here. It feels rather dated and a little weird, but it's also very cool. In some ways it makes me think of White Witch just a bit. The organ solo on this is pretty extensive. It works toward a classical music based movement further down the road with that organ featuring prominently. It works to more trippy sort of stuff beyond that, getting into some really freaky psychedelia meets space music. It works back out to the harder rocking stuff, feeling at times a little like Frank Zappa to me. This is a dynamic and powerful cut that's one of my favorites here. At almost eight minutes in length, it's also the most extensive one.
Somethin' You Got
In some ways, this feels like an extension of the previous tune. It's a powerhouse cut that really rocks with some definite jazz. The percussion is prominent and grooving. This gets pretty freaky with an animalistic person near the end.
Cyclops
Organ brings this one in and holds the first section of it. Percussion joins and the piece has a bit of soundtrack classical vibe with some ominous textures as it grows. There is a full on classical jam later in this cool instrumental. At six and a half minutes of music, this is another of the longer pieces.
Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
Weird non-lyrical voices, sound effects and more create some serious insanity. There are explosions and more in something that is unsettling for sure. It's just about a minute long.
Revelations CH. 16, Vs. 9 - 21
Weird electronic effects feel like they come out of the chaos of the previous cut. Eventually that gives way to something more melodic and we begin to move forward from there. There is an ominous soundtrack kind of vibe to this in some ways. This instrumental is pretty freaky and electronic based.
Take to the Skies
An electronic rhythm starts this, and we move out from there into another freaky bit of sound. This instrumental is odd, but cool.
Death May Be Your Santa Claus (Reprise)

Now, talking about weird, strange voices and weird sound effects and more create an unsettling vibe on the beginning of this. Before the one minute mark, though, it works out to more of a mainstream psychedelic prog arrangement to continue. It continues to evolve through some intriguing shifts and changes before it's over.

Bonus Tracks
   

Funeral

Coming in with a powerhouse symphonic prog vibe, this drops back to mellower music to continue. This is more of a folk prog kind of thing as it works forward. It gets pretty rocking before it ends.

Dip It Out of the Bog Fred
Nature sounds starts this. Then some music and crowd sounds are heard. More sound effects give way to an old time music sing-along type thing that's twisted to the weird side. Then it really turns to psychedelic strangeness from there. This song is just over a minute and a half long.
Baby RU Anudder Monster?

Percussion leads us out here, and when it works out I'm reminded of Frank Zappa. This is so strange, but oddly cool. It has some changes and varying sections. Overall the best description of this is "weird, but interesting."

 
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