#MoNM Day 6: C.A. Quintet’s Trip Thru Hell
C.A. Quintet – Trip Thru Hell
A forgotten psych-rock opus from 1968, Trip Thru Hell has made a name for itself in crate-digger circles despite selling fewer than 1,000 copies the first time around, with two unofficial reissues in the ’80s and ’90s and a more comprehensive release on Sundazed in 1996. That’s version the version I have, and with its pristine sound and a full album’s worth of bonus tracks, it’s easy to see how the album earned its following.
For a bunch of Midwesterners detached from any of the major counterculture scenes, the Quintet doesn’t lack for ambition. The title track alone is a 9-minute instrumental (including a three minute drum solo!) that plays with Morricone-style atmospherics and discordant guitar, and while other songs get distinctly more pop, they’re always crammed full of a dozen contradictory ideas. Propulsive wah-wah guitar leads into dual-solo freakouts, which segue into organ grooves and vaguely Zombies-ish reverb-drenched vocals, with satisfying doses of just the sort of morbid subject matter you’d expect from a Trip Thru Hell. It’s not the most polished release, and it occasionally falls into cliche (“Underground Music” falls somewhere between mission statement and commercial jingle), but it makes up for it with the best sorts of garage-rock enthusiasm and naive creativity.