Perhaps one of the finest and most original of bands to emerge in the USA during the Psychedelic era, the United States of America was formed in 1967 by the avant-garde musician Joseph Byrd (an associate of Yoko Ono who had studied with composer John Cage). After studying at UCLA in California, Byrd decided to form a band that would combine performance art, radical politics and experimental rock music. Recruiting former partner Dorothy Moskowitz (Vocals), Gordon Marron (Violin, Ring Modulator, Vocals), Rand Forbes (Bass) and Craig Woodson (Electric Drums), the band signed to Columbia records and recorded their self-titled album in December 1967. The sessions produced some of the most extraordinary music of the time.

This Esoteric Recordings edition is newly remastered and includes ten bonus tracks recorded during the sessions for the band’s sole album and in May and July 1968. The reissue also features an illustrated booklet with new essay.

CD £11.49 ECLEC2449

CD on Esoteric Recordings inc. 10 bonus tracks.

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REVIEWS

United States Of America: The Columbia Recordings Remastered and Expanded Edition by The United States of America
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9/10 Clinton 26 June 2014

Buy this album to find out where Broadcast got all their ideas from. One of the most forward thinking records of the 1960's, jazz player Joseph Byrd put this collective together to basically redefine what rock music could be. What opener 'American Metaphysical Circus' sounded like at the time is anyones guess. It now sounds pretty much exactly like Broadcast  -  there's nothing else from the era to really compare it to, perhaps the most out there bits of 'Sergeant Pepper's' and 'Piper at the Gates of Dawn'. Tracks like 'Hard Coming Love' are more conventional and could easily be compared to the likes of Jefferson Airplane. But even these more structurally coventional tracks are filled with wild sonic tricks, 'Coming Down' is jammed with fuzz bass, madcap drumming and all kinds of electronic debris. Surely Brian Eno was cocking his ear in this direction whilst concocting what he was about to add to Roxy Music's art rock.  'Love Song For The Dead Che' shows that they could strip away the sonic maelstrom and still come up with something incredibly affecting. It has the ability to make me weep at ten paces - tears rolling down my face as I type- don't tell anyone.  A psych masterpiece - comes with 10 bonus tracks and its just a shame there's no vinyl reissue.

 

  


10/10 Richard Bone 26th June 2014

Just a couple of points I wanted to make. First, I'm sure Clinton was probably a bit tired when he mistakenly wrote Donald Byrd instead of Joseph Byrd in his review (now corrected  - thanks!  - Clint).

I bought this LP the week of it's original release in 1967 or so. The first issue was packaged in a brown paper bag. I was living in Savannah, Georgia USA at the time and we had this amazing a.m. radio station that would play records like this, extremely obscure and usually with some early Moog and studio trickery. I doubt many will know these names but imagine hearing Spirit's "Mechanical World", The Moon's "I Should Be Dreaming" and this LP all before 9 am on your morning drive into High School. Those broadcasts, and the USA LP in particular, changed everything and helped me decide that I wanted to spend my life making music.

I had always wanted to contact Joseph Byrd and tell him how much his music set the course of my life. In the late 1980s I finally located him in So. California, got his number and called him. He was so genuinely happy to know how much I appreciated his music. He asked for my address and to my amazement, a couple of weeks later, a small parcel arrived from Joseph. He had sent me, written in his own hand with corrections along the side, the original lead sheet to "Love Song For The Dead Che" considered by many to be the highlight of the LP. The sheet now hangs framed along side my original LP, above the main keyboard in my studio.

Those early 8 track recordings may sound a bit dated after almost 50 years but they inspired a generation of musicians. A rock band with the hutzpah to go without a guitar opting instead for an electric violin played through a ring modulator! If you are seriously interested in music, especially as a profession, this work should be in your collection. Most don't know that there is a 2nd LP..kind of. Side 1 of J. Byrd & The Field Hippies continues the USA idea. Side 2 began Joseph's love of Americana which he pursued for the next several years.


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