Monday, March 23, 2009


It’s 1968 at UCLA in California, the season of the hippy is in full swing, and teacher/ethnomusicologist Joseph Byrd wants him some of that free-wheelin’, free-lovin’, psychedelic hippy action. Leaving his teaching gig to play music full time, Byrd recruits students Dorothy Moskowitz (vocals,) Rand Forbes (bass,) Gordon Marron (electric violin,) and Craig Woodson (drums,) to form a band and record a truly groovy record, the self-titled United States of America, LP.

The album is a paisley tapestry of psychedelia, with swirling arrangements and ethereal vocals, and perhaps most notably, eschewed the use of the electric guitar completely, in favor of keyboards and early electronic synthesizers and processors. Perhaps that’s why, commercially, it didn’t fare very well – in the rock ‘n roll game you’ve gotta have a guitar hero. Members of the group were arrested for drug possession and Byrd, apparently, was a bit of a tyrant and very difficult to work with. And so, like most things rare and beautiful, the United States of America died and early death, disbanding shortly after their record’s release.

But we’ll always have the music, like the beautiful Cloud Song, which opens this week’s playlist.


MP3: Disco Volante – Cloud Song

1. The United States of America - Cloud Song (3:20) 2. Corinne Bailey Rae - Munich (Editors Cover) (3:58) 3. Lambchop - Up With People (Zero 7 Reprise) (5:28) 4. Amon Düül 2 - Archangel Thunderbird (3:33) 5. The Go! Team - Bull in the Heather (Sonic Youth Cover) (2:59) 6. M.I.A. - Boyz (3:27) 7. Ladybug feat. Warrior Queen - Dem A Bomb We (3:21) 8. Kurtis Blow - The Breaks (7:47) 9. Breakout - Planet Rock Pt 1 (Afrika Bambaataa Cover) (4:33) 10. Apostle of Hustle - The Naked and Alone (4:36) 11. GZA/Genius - Swordsman (3:21) 12. Feist - Mushaboom (K-Os Mix) (4:01) 13. Steely Dan - Black Cow (5:08) 14. Anne Waldman - Musical Garden (3:38)

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