The madpersons and geniuses at Cherry Red records have unleashed another niche boxset into the world with Losing Touch with My Mind: Psychedelia in Britain 1986 – 1990. That’s a remarkably specific delineation, covering only four years, but there was an amazing output of music during that time. Not all of it was good music and this collection represents that. But Losing Touch with My Mind does an excellent job at connecting historical dots and introducing the neo-psychedelic artists to a new audience.
It’s almost worth grabbing hold of Losing Touch with My Mind for the accompanying booklet. For someone like this reviewer, with only a passing knowledge of the genre, the printed information is as valuable as the music itself. From the introduction by John Reed to the capsule descriptions of each song on this three-disc set, it is obvious how carefully these songs were chosen for maximum impact.
All the hallmarks of psychedelic music are here. Fuzzy guitars, tracks played backward, droning, phasing, and flanging. It’s all designed to recall the sounds of late 60s rock and roll. In some cases, ecstasy stands in for LSD as inspiration, but there’s enough here to make you drag your blacklight posters out from your mother’s attic.
“Mother Sleep” by 14 Iced Bears is a standout here, a piece of rumbling insidiousness with sneaky guitars and a heavy drum tone. “Mind Train” by The Modern Art works from a pseudo-spy movie riff. The bass is slightly off tune, adding to the wobbliness of the echo and reverb that infect the song. My dark sense of humor was taken with “Albert Parker” by Gol Gappas, an odd story song about a man who loves his model trains. His wife does not.
One of the best songs in the collection comes from one of the most recognizable names. Captain Sensible is the bassist for the seminal goth band, The Damned. He had a minor hit in the US with “Wot,” a funky sort of rap ditty. His song, “Exploding Teapots (Past Their Prime)” is a cleanly produced, swirling piece of pop psychedelia. With moody acoustic guitar work and electronic whooshing, the song has garnered more replays for me than any other in the set.
As with any extensive amalgamation like Losing Touch with My Mind, not every song is an instant winner. “We Dig Your Earth” by the Moonflowers certainly has the lo-fi vibe down, but its sudden volume spikes during the panned vocals make it a difficult track to enjoy. Other songs dive so deeply into the distortion that they become practically unlistenable. “Psych Out” by The Seers veers into self-parody with its usage of weary lyrical tropes. “Let your hair down, sister!” Thanks, we’ll get back to you.
With tracks from bands like The Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, and The Charlatans, Losing Touch with My Mind has some great songs for both fans and neophytes. The packaging is beautiful and informative. There is probably more here than meets the untrained ear. That’s one of the things that makes Cherry Red one of the most vital imprints on the scene today. They’re not out to make the masses happy. The label exists to challenge listeners and bring new fans under its wing. In this case, it’s safe to say Cherry Red is out to blow your mind.