Americana UK HALLOWEEN Review

 

  •  Another welcome reissue from Seattle psych popsters

Seattle's long running purveyors of psychedelic tinged power pop, Green Pajamas, have a back catalogue that could defeat all but their most dedicated fans. Initially formed in the post punk DIY early eighties by Jeff Kelly and Joe Ross their initial releases were basically home recordings issued on cassette to friends and local fans. Fortunately Green Monkey Records have beavered away over the past few years to resurrect the initial stirrings of this underrated and obscure crew and Happy Halloween! is billed as the final piece of the reissue jigsaw. The original Happy Halloween! consisted of eight songs, recorded in the basement of bassist Karl Wilhelm's' house in October 1984. Dubbed onto ten C30 cassettes (remember those?) that was that as the band moved on adding members and slowly becoming more professional. For this reissue the original eight songs were remastered from a cassette tape and here are sandwiched between an additional 13 songs from the same time period. The end result is an album that seesaws from Beatles influenced baroque pop to folk whimsy that at times recalls the Incredible String Band. Several of the songs feature heavily the band's purchase of a Casio keyboard while others reflect Jeff Kelly's initial tries on cello.

 

There are songs that they later revisited with "Murder Of Crows" appearing on the 1986 album Book Of Hours, their first vinyl release but for the most part these are snippets from the eighties, described by Ross in the liner notes as "a time of low stress, high creativity and lots of fun." Credit should be given to Tom Dyer who oversaw the mastering from cassette as the album flows much better than one might expect from such a grab bag while the sound quality is more than acceptable. There are some lovely songs here which range from the dreamlike innocence of "Little Red" to the mildly sinister "I've Got A Crush On You" and again one wonders just what this bunch were up to at the time as their songs and sounds are very much out of kilter with what most folk were listening to at the time. Suffice to say that if you dig the likes of Syd Barrett, The West Coast Experimental Pop Band, Robyn Hitchcock, Young Marble Giants or The Bevis Frond then you might be well advised to check this out. And while we might have passed Halloween the album ends with a suitably seasonal singalong Christmas song with the band accompanied by their friends and associates that recalls John Lennon's hotel bed in recordings. Nice.

Paul Kerr