There have been few, if any groups, who could play rock, blues, country, cajun, Irish, swing, psychedelic, bluegrass, Hawaiian, folk, Balkan, flamenco, jug band, and Middle-Eastern music, much less combine them together. There were none who did it as seamlessly as Kaleidoscope. In addition to rock instruments (electric guitar, bass, drums), folk instruments (fiddle, banjo, mandolin), and blues instruments (steel guitar, harmonica), they played instruments most people hadn’t even heard of, such as the caz or the harp-guitar. And they played the hell out of them, turning what could have been a novelty act into a tight, energetic professional band.
“We never were a group for screaming teeny boppers, but you bet your sweet ass every damn town we’d play in all the other professional musicians in town would show up to catch every last set we’d play.” – David Lindley
You’ll hear echoes of Hamza El Din in the oud and saz solos that emerge out of 11-minute psychedelic workouts like ‘Seven-Ate-Sweet (7-8 Suite)’ and ‘Taxim’, or the oud-driven ‘Egyptian Gardens’. You’ll hear echoes of Howlin’ Wolf via Hendrix on ‘Beacon from Mars’. You’ll hear echoes of the Kentucky Colonels’ bluegrass in ‘Life Will Pass You By’ and ‘Banjo’, perhaps the single best use of an echo box in the history of music (perhaps not, but it’s very fun). You’ll hear echoes of Cab Calloway, Doug & Rusty Kershaw, The Loovin’ Spoonful, Ralph Stanley, Ry Cooder, Taj Mahal, The Byrds, Bob Dylan, Jim Kweskin, Chuck Berry, The Sons of the Pioneers, Duke Ellington and even flamenco masters like Sabicas and Carlos Montoya. But, though this list of multi-varied influences and genres guarantees that they were the most eclectic rock band in America, the way that Kaleidoscope fused them together made all the disparate elements uniquely their own. To top it all off, they wrote taut, witty lyrics and sang with emotion that ranged from sweet to gritty to spaced-out.
The Musicians (at different stages of the band):
David Lindley aka De Paris Letante – guitar, oud, violin, harp-guitar, banjo, vocals
Chris Darrow – fiddle, mandolin, guitar, vibes, sax, tuba
Solomon Feldthouse – guitar, oud, finger cymbals, tuba, caz, canun, doumbeg, vocals
Chester Crill aka Max Buda aka Templeton Parcely aka Fenrus Epp – harmonica, organ, piano, violin, vocals.
John Vidican – bass
Stuart Brotman – bass, penny whistle, gudulka, cemenche, oud, vocals
Paul Lagos – drums, vocals
John Ware – drums
Kaleidoscope – Side Trips
get it here
Their first album, it lays out the blueprint for everything that was to follow. The musicianship would get better on later albums, but they can already beat the pants off rivals like The Doors.
Kaleidoscope – A Beacon From Mars (aka Bacon from Mars)
get it here (re-posted Mar 22 ’08)
This is my second-favorite album of theirs. Perhaps the best showcase of all their different styles.
Kaleidoscope – Incredible! Kaleidoscope
get it here
My favorite Kaleidoscope album, and one of the best psych-rock albums ever. Period. Their musical prowess is in top form here.
Kaleidoscope – Bernice
get it here
More straightforward, less exciting. Most of the Eastern influence is gone, as well as half the founding members. They broke up shortly afterwards.
Kaleidoscope – When Scopes Collide
get it here (fixed Nov-2, 2008)
The mid-70s reunion, featuring most of the original members, and some new ones.All the various genres are there, but they never quite gel like on the first 3 albums.
Kaleidoscope – Pulsating Dream: The Epic Recordings
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 (from Lost-in-Tyme mirror)
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 (from Orexis of Death, thanks to Emberglow)
The box set, containing all their classic releases plus unreleased and hard-to-find cuts. 3-cds. If you know you like them, get this rather than the individual Epic albums.
Thanks to Telhadosmundo and Lost-In-Thyme blogs for the d-links. If there’s anything wrong with the dls, or the links die, let me know and i can up my copies. [update: well, I can’t actually upload any for a while, but Lost-in-Thyme has been resurrected and the box set is also available on Orexis of Death and Chocoreve. Thanks to those who posted comments to help.]
and you’ll find all the Kaleidoscope news, articles, images, & reviews you want at the Pulsating Dream website.