This was not the case with the Moving Sidewalks. They had a regional hit of sorts with “99th Floor,” but it was not even on Flash, although it appears on the bonus CD. Was it a sign of the times that the lead track on Flash was titled “Flashback?” Probably, but contrary to what one might think, this is not some heavy acid-drenched tune, just a very cool rock song. I like the nod Gibbons makes to Hendrix by briefly quoting “Third Stone From the Sun” during his solo.
Flash is definitely an album of its time, as the segue from “Flashback” into “Scoun Da Be” shows. Thanks to George Harrison’s interest in Indian music, a musical hybrid known as “raga-rock” briefly emerged. “Scoun Da Be” is most definitely raga-rock, and although extremely dated, it is still kind of fun to hear.
The psychedelia really emerges on “Pluto - Sept. 31st,” co-written by Gibbons and producer Steve Ames. The 5:12 track is sort of a two-part affair. The first section reminds me a bit of “Stone Free,” while the second, organ dominated segment is fairly trippy. But the serious psychedelia comes in the final two tracks, “Eclipse” (3:37) and “Reclipse" (2:31). These amount to basically one six-minute freak out. They are as wild as anything released that year. One thing is certain, anyone hearing this stuff would certainly know that there was as much “mind-expansion” going on in the Lone Star state as there was the Haight.
All too often, the reason that a band’s leftover material remained in the vault for decades was because it wasn’t very good. In the case of the Moving Sidewalks though, the reason was much more prosaic: record company greed. Until now, the way to hear the first two Moving Sidewalks singles was to get the extremely rare original 45s. Wand Records held on to the rights to them with an iron fist.
The Sidewalks’ first single was the previously mentioned “99th Floor.” It was released in February 1967 on the Tantara label, then re-released by Sceptor/Wand later that year. The B-side was “What Are You Going To Do?” another radio-friendly Billy Gibbons tune. The second Moving Sidewalks single was “Need Me” b/w “Every Night a New Surprise,” also released in ‘67 by Wand.
The bonus CD includes those singles, plus alternate, unreleased versions of them. There are numerous other oddities here as well, including the excellent previously unreleased instrumental “Headin’ Out,” which like Flash’s “Joe Blues” is credited to all four members of the band. It is another bloozy wonder, quite possibly the result of an in-studio jam.