All hail the mighty Farfisa! Kaleidoscope’s one and only album Kaleidoscope (1967) has been fully restored, with three bonus tracks added. It is deservedly legendary, and until now – impossibly rare. The five-piece band recorded the tracks in the Dominican Republic, and the record was issued by a tiny Mexican label called Orfeon. Only 200 copies were pressed, which for the past 41 years have constituted the sole legitimate release of the LP.
Opening track “Hang Out,” is a garage-rock classic. Substitute guitar for lead organ and you have the very essence of punk. These guys know how to rock, and top off the tune with what sounds like an atomic-bomb blast. “P.S. Come Back” is next, and is sheer attitude. I always loved the way Frank Zappa parodied the song “Hey Joe” as “Flower Punk” on We’re Only In It For The Money. I may be wrong, but it sounds as if the precursor to “Hey Joe” was this little gem.
One wonders if Jimmy Page ever got one of those original 200 copies. The eight-minute “Once Upon A Time There Was A World” sounds much more like the blueprint for Led Zeppelin than any of those late-period Yardbirds albums do. Likewise with Iggy Pop, in fact more so in the Ig’s case – his vocals sound exactly like those on the disc. Beyond that, if you substitute guitars for the Farfisa, you have a punk rock manifesto.
The Kaleidoscope album has been bootlegged many times over the years, but the reissue label Shadoks did right by the band. Amazingly, they were able to track down all of the original members, plus the album cover artist – to get proper permission, and the true story of this wild set. There are two bonus studio tracks appended, plus a raunchy live version (from 1969) of Donovan‘s “Season Of The Witch.”
If you thought Lenny Kaye’s Nuggets collection was something special, wait until you hear Kaleidoscope. This is absolutely mind-blowing psychedelia – that sounds as great today as it did back in 1967. It is an album that lives up to and beyond its reputation. A true classic.